October 29, 2012

St. Anastasia the Roman and Gregoriou Monastery

By Archimandrite Cherubim Karambelas

Another protector of Gregoriou Monastery is the Holy Virgin-Martyr Anastasia the Roman, who in the third century was martyred by Decius with terrible tortures. Towards the west end of the outer courtyard there is a compunctionate church dedicated to her name. Many fragments of her holy relics have been preserved in the Monastery, including portions of her skin which have become fragrant with time. There is a special receptacle containing blood shed at the time of her martyrdom.

St. Anastasia especially cares for the health of the fathers, and for this reason they give her the name "Physician". It is no easy task to enumerate all the times when the monks were delivered from sickness by her miraculous power. There were period of time when the infirmarians of the Monastery had nothing at all to do, because anyone who fell sick had only to make a prostration before the relics of St. Anastasia, and he would be immediately healed.

Some time ago, we were visiting Gregoriou Monastery, and we walked up to the gardens. Below some large water reservoirs is the dwelling of the gardener. We met there the aged monk Fr. Hesychios, and his young assistant, a novice. Fr. Hesychios, who was cheerful, simple, and talkative, was very willing to talk to us about Fr. Athanasios, the Monastery, and their patron Saints.

"From the time I was a child," he told us among other things, "I suffered from hemorrhages from my nose. They plagued me for years. In 1935 - I was then thirty-eight years old - I had the obedience of cook. One day, I had a severe nose bleed. I had heard the other monks talking continually about St. Anastasia's cures, and I ran to the priest on duty and asked him to take out the right hand of the Saint, and with it made the sign of the cross over my nose. That was all there was to it. Forty whole years have passed since then and I've never once been bothered by nose bleeds. The healing that the Saint gave me was a 'perfect gift'."

Patron Saints! The more one thinks about this reality, the more one marvels. The good God has assigned to the various institutions of the Church "small gods", if that expression is permissible. How happy he must feel who is overshadowed by their strong wings! One must keep vigil and pray to maintain the best possible relationship with them.

From Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos, Vol. 1 (pp. 129-130).