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February 12, 2014

Saint Meletios of Lardos, Founder of Ypseni Monastery (+ mid-late 19th cent.)

February 12

Commemoration of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Meletios of Lardos, builder of the sacred and revered Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos of Ypseni


You raised up a Monastery to the Virgin Mary.
You dwelled alone glorious among Angels.
On the twelfth Meletios is honored splendidly.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Meletios, was born in the late 18th century in the village of Lardos in Rhodes and he was named Emmanuel at Holy Baptism. His pious parents Nicholas and Stamatia raised him according to the apostolic dictum "in the education and admonition of the Lord", and they implanted in his soul love towards God and the traditions of our pious Nation. From infancy he appeared to be a "chosen vessel" since he refused to suckle his mothers milk on the fasting days of Wednesday and Friday. Later, when he grew up, he distributed goods from the family warehouse to the poor without anything being reduced, resulting in the amazement of his parents, who had previously rebuked him.

By his native parish priest he was taught to read and write, and with zeal he gave himself over to the study of the lives of the Saints of the Church, the struggles of which he attempted to emulate through vigils, prayer and fasting. In his soul kindled the divine flame, and he preferred to withdraw into the forest to pray to God undistracted, with hot tears, all-night prayers and prostrations. The place he habitually withdrew to was a cave in the then dilapidated ancient Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos Ypseni.

One night when he was found near the Monastery praying he noticed a brilliant pillar of light descending from the sky and standing over a century old olive tree. In awe watching the paradoxical spectacle, he approached the place indicated by the heavenly light and he found an old Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. He kneeled in awe, lifted it by his hands, and embraced it with spiritual joy and jubilation, chanting hymns of doxology to God and songs of praise of gratitude to the Mother of God for the wondrous good-pleasure of her grace.

One of the following nights the Mother of the Lord appeared to him in a vision telling him to build on the site of the finding a sacred church in her name and to rebuild the damaged Monastery. At the same time she pointed out the place where he had to dig to ensure the finances required for the building. The Saint obeyed and digging there where the Theotokos showed him he discovered some hidden treasure. Having the certainty of the presence of the grace of the Mother of God he secured the necessary permission from the Turkish authorities, and he built the sacred church encircled by cells [in 1855]. Having received the Angelic Schema, he was renamed Meletios and he settled there struggling with excessive zeal in the good fight of the monastic state.

For his excessive virtues and the purity of his state the Bishop of the land ordained him a Deacon then a Presbyter, commissioning him to serve in spiritual fatherhood and installing him Abbot of the reestablished Monastery. His reputation expanded throughout the island and many visited him to confess their sins and hear his spiritual admonitions. Frequently he would himself visit the villages of the island to liturgize, confess the residents, and to establish them in the true faith and works of piety and enhance their morale in the trials that existed during slavery. Having grace from God, by prayer he healed the sick and liberated many demon possessed from the influence of unclean spirits. He had the virtue of almsgiving most and no one who came to him seeking relief left without receiving what they needed. He gave hospitality to visitors with an abrahamic disposition and accepted into his Monastery those persecuted by the Ottomans offering them refuge and protection. He strongly urged Christians to remain steadfast in the faith of their fathers and live according to the word of God.

The blessed one particularly insisted on teaching Christian women to avoid intimate relationships with those of other religions and not enter into marriage with them. His teachings annoyed the Ottomans, who sought an opportunity to assassinate him. An occasion to execute their wicked plans was the case of the sister of a committee member of the church of Lardos, who had lawless relations with the Ottoman gendarme of Lindos. The Saint, when he was informed of this, advised her brother to urge her to stop her sinful deeds. The elders of the village did the same. Their positions became known to the Ottomans and this caused an outrage. By night they went to Lardos, murdered two village elders, then went towards the Monastery to kill the Saint. But they failed in their purpose, because he was informed of their plans and had a timely withdrawal from the Monastery.

Desiring the hesychastic life, the Saint often withdrew to a nearby cave, the existence of which those of other religions did not know about. Returning one day to the Monastery a Turk, named Ali, saw him accompanied by a beautiful woman and he had devious thoughts about this. Following him he saw the Saint enter the church with the woman. After a short time he also entered, but the Saint was alone praying. He began to tremble and his members became paralyzed. He understood that the woman was the Theotokos and he fell at his feet asking forgiveness for his devious thoughts. The Saint healed him and out of gratitude the Turk dedicated to the icon of the Panagia a gold necklace that is preserved until today. Another time the Saint was in Lardos and wanted to return to the Monastery at night. The river had flooded and the crossing was impossible. But he did not turn back, rather he made the sign of the Cross over the waters, and passed in a wondrous manner without getting wet, and he continued on his way, illuminated by a heavenly light that moved in front of him as he walked, as some shepherds testified who were eye-witnesses of this paradoxical happening.

God allowed the Saint at the end of his earthly life to be tested and for the Psalm to be verified in his person: "Lord, You have tried me and known me." A Turk corrupted and made pregnant a Christian from Lardos, named Pelagia, who suffered from mental retardation. When her pregnancy became known, the Turks without hesitation tried to show that the Saint was the father of the unborn infant. They denounced him before the Metropolitan of Rhodes, who called him to account. The blessed Meletios, who was at an advanced age, could not endure the accusations and he expired at the feet of the Metropolitan. The slander however was revealed when they wanted to prepare his body for his burial and the Metropolitan gave the command for his bodiless relic due to his struggles for chastity be buried in the precincts of the Cathedral of the Presentation of the Most Holy Theotokos. When his grave was later opened his relics were fragrant as a testimony to his holiness.

The Saint received from God the grace to work miracles for those who call upon him and seek him with faith asking for refuge and protection. Many times he has appeared to the sick stating his name and healing the sickness. Moving is the testimony of a pious Christian from Archangelo who met him on the road outside of Pylona, and he took him with his car out of Lardos, to the crossroad that leads to the Monastery. When he went to the Monastery and venerated his icon, it was understood who the aged Clergyman he met was, and he left proclaiming everywhere the wondrous appearance of the Saint.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Read also: Synaxis of Panagia Ypseni in Rhodes

The Venerable Meletios of Lardos was officially proclaimed a Saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on 27 November 2013, together with Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva.

St. Meletios of Ypseni

Panagia Ypseni

Panagia Ypseni Monastery

Skull of St. Meletios (left) and St. Raphael of Lesvos (right)

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The luminary of Lardos, the boast of the island of Rhodes, and of majestic Ypseni the God-bearing founder, Meletios, let us the faithful honor as a vessel of heavenly gifts, who regulates miraculous gifts to those who with longing cry out: Glory to Christ who glorified you, Glory to Him who made you wondrous, Glory to Him who through you works healings for all.

Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος α΄. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Τὸν φωστῆρα τῆς Λάρδου, Ῥοδονήσου τὸ καύχημα, καὶ τῆς Ὑψενῆς τοῦ σεμνείου, θεοφόρον δομήτορα, Μελέτιον τιμήσωμεν πιστοί, ὡς σκεῦος οὐρανίων ἀρετῶν· πρυτανεύει γὰρ θαυμάτων τὰς δωρεάς, τοῖς πόθῳ ἀναβοῶσι· Δόξα τῷ σέ δοξάσαντι Χριστῷ, δόξα τῷ σὲ θαυμαστώσαντι, δόξα τῷ ἐνεργοῦντι διὰ σοῦ, πᾶσιν ἰάματα.

Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος πλ. δ΄. Τῇ Ὑπερμάχῳ.
Ω῾ς βιοτῆς ἀσκητικῆς ῥόδον μυρίπνοον, καὶ ἀρετῶν θεοειδῶν σκεῦος πολύτιμον, εὐφημοῦμέν σε Μελέτιε γηθοσύνως. Ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἔχων παῤῥησίαν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον, ἐκ παντοίων συμφορῶν ἡμᾶς διάσωσον, τοὺς βοῶντάς σοι· Χαίροις Πάτερ ἰσάγγελε.

Χαίροις τῶν Ὁσίων ὁ μιμητής, καὶ ζωῆς ἁγίας, ὁ θεόπνους ὑφηγητής· χαίροις Θεοτόκου, ὁ γνήσιος θεράπων, Μελέτιε θεόφρον, Ἀγγέλων σύσκηνε.

The Life of Saint Meletios in Icons

Finding the sacred icon of Panagia Ypseni

Finding the hidden treasure

St. Meletios offers the church to the Panagia

The miraculous crossing of the river

St. meletios banishing demons

St. Meletios at the feet of the Metropolitan where he reposed

Dormition of the Saint

St. Meletios of Ypseni in Rhodes