June 16, 2014

Saint Gregory of Mystra, Patron of Sparta

St. Gregory Mystriotis from Strongyli in Lichada
(Feast Day - Sunday of All Saints and July 23)

The venerable Gregory was an offspring of an official Christian family in the region known as Mystra, and he lived in the eleventh century. From an early age he was taught the sacred writings and showed zeal for the monastic life.

At the age of 16 he decided to leave the world and retire to a monastery, without receiving permission from his parents. Later he followed a group of monks - visitors to Mystra - to go and venerate with them in the Holy Land. For unforeseen reasons, however, they were led to Rome. There young Gregory became a monk in a sacred monastery of the area.

He then departed for the Holy Land. Afterwards he went to Nicaea in Asia Minor, then to Thrace in Macedonia and finally settled in Evia. The presence of Gregory in the small town of Oreou was filled with the Grace of God, raising an alarm among the people. The sacred church in which he lived was flooded daily with a crowd of faithful people, who went there to hear the Saint preach and give thoughtful advice.

Very quickly, however, in order to avoid the honor of people and to find his long-sought for peace, he left Oreou and settled on a very small island known as Strongyli, which belongs to the islands of Lichada at the northwest tip of Evia. It did not take long, however, for this new hideout of Saint Gregory to become known, and a crowd of people flocked to him, rich and poor, Priests, Hierarchs and Monks, in order to be taught by him the path to repentance and to follow his example.

Saint Gregory, who came from Mystra, having excelled in all the areas of virtue, and reached full of days, was translated to heavenly bliss, to meet his Father and Creator.

His memory is honored by our Church every year on the Sunday of All Saints.

Today, at the northeast coast of Strongyli, are the ruins of the hermitage of Saint Gregory. In the complex there stands today the Church of the Panagia, the tomb of Saint Gregory, monastic cells, the entrance, huge walls and other buildings. Around the ruins of the hermitage are many broken tiles, limestone boulders and many stones from the buildings of the hermitage. This monument is deserving of particular interest.

Saint Gregory is the patron saint of the historic seat of the Municipality of Sparta, and in Mystra there is a newly built sacred church dedicated to him.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.