May 15, 2011

Saint Andrew the Hermit and Wonderworker

St. Andrew the Hermit (Feast Day - May 15)

Near Lake Kremaston in Evrytania, Greece is the old village of Halkiopoulo. Five kilometers northeast of this village is the cave of Saint Andrew the Hermit. The route from the village to the cave is a passable dirt road and ends in a clearing. There, the pilgrim leaves the car and on foot takes the path, following a fantastic natural scenic path of beauty above Lake Kremaston. The hike takes 20 minutes.

When you enter the cave you come to the shrine of the Saint and its 14th century iconography. Behind the altar is the tomb of the Saint, though his relics are now kept in the new village of Halkiopoulo.

Saint Andrew the Hermit and Wonderworker was an ascetic in Aetolia-Acarnania during the reign of Michael II Komnenos of Epiros (1237 -1271). He was born in Monodendri in Epiros. He later married and had children. At one point he left everything and became a hermit five kilometers northeast of Halkiopoulo. Here he found a cave and lived in asceticism and trials for the rest of his life for the love of Christ. He died in old age, without being noticed by anyone.

However, God did not want this Saint to be unknown. As he was departing this life, bright lit lamps were shining in the heavens above him which could be seen from a great distance. These lamps came upon his holy relics. Villagers from the area came and found the Saint. Among those who came after being informed was Saint Theodora the Queen of Arta (March 11), who had the Saint buried in the cave and built a chapel.

Every year on May 15th Saint Andrew is celebrated in his cave by the multitudes. The life and divine office of the Saint was written by Andreas Idromenos (+ 1847).