September 27, 2011

Holy New Hieromartyr Anthimos, Metropolitan of Wallachia (+ 1716)

St. Anthimos of Iberia (Feast Day - September 14 & June 13)

Saint Anthimos was born around 1650 in Georgia, and his parents were called John and Mary. The child received the name Andrew in Baptism, and his parents raised him as an Orthodox Christian.

Andrew was captured by Turks who invaded Georgia when he was young, and he was one of many who were made slaves in Constantinople. There he learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and also became skilled in woodcarving, embroidery, and painting. After a few years as a slave, Andrew escaped and fled to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for refuge.

Around 1690, Andrew was invited to Wallachia by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu (Aug. 16), who had heard of his talents as an ecclesiastical painter. After a year or so, he became a monk and received the name Anthimos. Later, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. He was placed in charge of the royal print shop in Bucharest, and in 1691 set up a printing house in the Snagov Monastery. The monastery printed sixty-three books in Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Georgian. Anthimos was the author of thirty-eight of them. He was chosen to be the abbot of Snagov in 1696.

The Saint was consecrated as Bishop of Rimnicu-Vilcea in 1705, and three years later he was made Metropolitan of Wallachia. As Metropolitan, he established schools for poor children, and built churches and monasteries. Since he was a woodcarver, he used his talent to beautify many churches, including Strehaia, Surpatele, Cozia and Govora Monasteries.

Anthimos was a zealous pastor who satisfied his flock's hunger for spiritual knowledge. Preaching in the Romanian language, he taught them the saving truths of Orthodoxy, and offered words of encouragement and consolation. His edifying books and sermons are part of the spiritual legacy of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The most important of his books was the Didahiile, which is a book of twenty-eight sermons for pastoral service, the Tomos of Joy, with almost 800 pages, including five polemic works against the Westerners who were trying to break up Orthodoxy in the Romanian Principalities and especially in Transylvania. In 1706, he printed the Molitvelnic (Euchologion), the first Romanian edition in Muntenia. In 1713, he printed the Hieratikon in Romanian, confirming the victory of the Romanian language within the liturgical texts of the Romanian Church.

Metropolitan Anthimos was arrested by the Turks in 1716, imprisoned, unjustly defrocked, and sentenced to be exiled for life to Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, but he never arrived at his destination. On September 14, 1716, he was killed by the soldiers who were escorting him. They cut his body into little pieces and threw them into the Tungia River, south of the Danube, near Adrianople. Thus, the faithful servant of Christ received the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Anthimos was a true shepherd of his flock, and a father to his clergy. Only in 1966, the Ecumenical Patriarchate annulled the defrocking unjustly issued against Saint Anthimos and, on 21 June 1992, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to include Metropolitan Anthimos of Iberia in the calendar, as Holy Hierarch and Martyr, celebrated on 14 September. In the Georgian Orthodox Church he is celebrated on 13 June.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Holy Hierarch and Father Anthimos, you were rightly appointed a shepherd and teacher of your flock, and with divine wisdom you have poured out the rivers of your holy words. You did offer your life for your flock and have acquired the crown of martyrdom from Christ our God, Whom you pray, O Holy Hieromartyr Anthimos, to grant peace and great mercy to those who celebrate your holy memory.

For various videos having to do with St. Anthimos, see here.