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September 7, 2014

The Myrrh-Bearing Island of Chios

All Saints of Chios (Feast Day - First Sunday of September)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

The beautiful island of Chios was named "the myrrh-bearing island" for its fragrant mastic, its great variety of flower-bearing trees, and its multicolored flowers. Its history is ancient, with a rich tradition of cultural accomplishments and a great offering upon the altar of freedom. Personally, I believe that this island is truly myrrh-bearing because it has offered a special fragrance to our country and the world through the beautiful sacred personalities of heroes and saints who reflected a noble spirit and a way of life that our world always needs. Today we know by name at least fifty such saints, and the story of each of their lives exudes a spiritual fragrance.

Various conquerors have passed through Chios, seeking to change many things, including the faith of its noble inhabitants. Their resistance, however, was strong and tremendous. Certain times they countersigned their faith with their own blood. The teachers, the clergy, the monasteries, and the churches often served as a refuge for the persecuted people of the island. The resistance of these subjugated people was indeed courageous, heroic, and sacrificial, and became a source of courage and hope for the others and for those who came afterward. Their deeply rooted religious faith was a tremendous power that strengthened these Chiotes during times of tribulation. The time of Ottoman rule on the island was the most oppressive. The Turks definitely made violent attempts to change the faith of the Christians. The results were exactly the opposite of what the enemy expected. The people of Chios proceeded to make a bold confession of faith, which led many of their elect sons and daughters to a glorious martyrdom. Their sacrifice rekindled the faith and bonded the people closer to the Church.

Today on the island of Chios, there are about one thousand sacred altars of worship, more than one hundred parishes, about eight hundred country chapels, and twenty monastic churches. All of these reveal and prove impressively the extent of the Orthodox Christian faith of the people of Chios.

From the book Holiness: Is It Attainable Today?.