July 25, 2012

The Sultan and the Oil Lamp of Saint Anna

Saint Anna is considered the patron saint of childbirth and maternity. Many are the tales of the monks of the Skete of Saint Anna on Mount Athos of couples who had lost all hope for childbearing, and became parents with the help of St. Anna, having fled to her with reverence and faith and asked her aid. Typical is the following story:

The Sultan of Lemnos and his wife could not bear a child, and for this reason he was very upset. He heard from the inhabitants of the island, who would visit Mount Athos and the Skete of Saint Anna, about the miracles of the mother of the Panagia and the help she offered to childless couples in order to give them a child. Being convinced of the stories that circulated, he sent gifts with pilgrims that were travelling to the Skete, in honor of St. Anna, and asked to bring back holy oil and holy water from the Saint. Christians, because the Sultan was of another religion, threw away the gifts and brought him back nothing. The Sultan was insistent and once again sent gifts in honor of St. Anna, asking once more for holy oil and holy water, and even threatened the Christians with severe sanctions if they did not fulfill his order.

The monks of the Skete, because the Sultan was not a Christian, and due to the sanction, sent him drinking water, not holy water, and regular oil, not holy oil. Saint Anna, because of the faith and perseverance of the Sultan, helped him and gave him a healthy boy, and out of gratitude to St. Anna he gifted her with an oil lamp that hangs before her icon today to fulfill his vow. Because the manufacturer stole part of the precious material, the Sultan added to the bottom the egg that appears, that his vow may be complete.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos