May 2, 2012

A Call To Return the Holy Relics of Saint Anastasia

N. Pitsiakidi
May 2, 2012

"We declare the monastery in deep mourning. We do daily petitions to Saint Anastasia for the return of her holy relics. We are all upset here at the monastery." With such sorrow Metropolitan Apostolos of Miletus appeals to those who have their hands on the holy relics of Saint Anastasia to return them to where they belong.

For eleven centuries the holy relics of Saint Anastasia were kept at the Holy Monastery of Saint Anastasia in Thessaloniki, but for the past nine days unknown thieves stole them for unclear reasons. This incident shook the calmness of the monastery, and as police investigations have not worked, the suspense increases.

"I suspect it was a targeted act. There were other things the sacrilegious thieves could have taken, but they touched nothing except for the relics. I wonder why, for example, they did not take chalices and lamps. I believe they only stole the offering to throw off the police investigation," said Metropolitan Apostolos of Miletus to Democracy.

According to the Metropolitan, the relics of Saint Anastasia cannot be displayed anywhere apart from a private collection, since they are documented by the Patriarchate, the Ministry of Culture and the 10 Ephorate of Antiquities. "I think the sacrilegious thieves were executive officers of one person, to show them in their own land. They are useless for any other reason," adds the Metropolitan.

The theft of the holy relics of Saint Anastasia took place last Monday morning. The number of sacrilegious thieves is unknown, but it is certain the perpetrators entered the monastery and made it into the narthex of the church. There they found three silver reliquaries, which date, according to the abbot of the time, from 1830, that is after the burning of the monastery. The perpetrators removed the three silver boxes. In one reliquary was the skull of Saint Anastasia, and in the second was her right leg. In the third silver reliquary were portions of the bones of Saint Anastasia, Saint Modestos and Saint Paraskevi. The unknown perpetrators predetermined this, since in order to reach the narthex of the church three doors had to be broken down, two external and one internal. They allegedly fled on foot.

"I hope the authorities will do their part and there will be a happy ending. With the help of Saint Anastasia we hope the relics will be returned to where they belong and to the millions of believers who reverence her," concluded the Metropolitan.

The Holy Monastery of Saint Anastasia belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is its oldest monastery outside Mount Athos. The monastery was built in 888 AD and receives thousands of visitors every weekend from northern Greece, going to venerate the relics of Saint Anastasia.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos