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October 6, 2014

Saint Kendeas the Wonderworker as a Model for our Lives

St. Kendeas the Wonderworker (Feast Day - October 6)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Kendeas was an Alemanni in origin and at the age of eighteen he became a monk in Palestine. The continuous raids of bandits in that area led him to emigrate, together with other monks, to Cyprus. After much suffering due to the rough seas, they arrived at the coast of Paphos and Saint Kendeas took refuge in a cave. There he was tested by many and varied temptations. One of the greatest of these was the presence in the region of a thief, who would harass the Saint for a long time until he was arrested by the authorities. Later, he was informed that his friend and fellow ascetic Fr. Jonah was in the region of Famagusta and he rushed to meet him. After much wandering it pleased God for them to meet and they embraced each other, they discussed various spiritual issues and "and were comforted in no ordinary measure" (Acts. 20:12). Saint Kendeas then lived his ascetic life in the region of Famagusta, near the village of Avgorou. In this region today a Sacred Convent exists, and there is also a sacred church in Paphos, that honor his name. It is to be noted as well that the Saint has the gift of working remedies and cures, primarily neuralgia.

The Sacred Convent of Saint Kendeas is located just outside the Turkish outposts. Anyone who visits asks what happened that the Turks stopped their invasion in 1974 just outside the Convent and did not proceed further and overtake it. Also, one is left in wonder how the nuns did not abandon the Sacred Convent during the course of the Turkish invasion, despite the strict orders of the Greek army, when the Turks proceeded irrepressibly and the residents of the surrounding villages fled their homes and left towards the surrounding areas to be saved.

The Abbess of the Sacred Convent of Saint Kendeas replied in writing to these questions. She admitted that during the war she received a lot of pressure from the Greek army to abandon the Convent together with the other nuns. But she refused to do so because she believed that the Turks would not overtake the Monastery, and that they would stop directly opposite to it. When she was asked by Greek soldiers on what basis this view could be supported, she replied that Saint Kendeas told her a month before. They laughed sarcastically and tried to remove her and the nuns, even with force. The nuns insisted on maintaining their view and did not leave, despite the heavy pressure, because they had in mind the command of Saint Kendeas not to abandon the Monastery, no matter how much pressure they received, and that he would be their protector.

Also, the Abbess says that she did not pay attention to the first two appearances of the Saint because she learned to not give significance to dreams, and she was afraid of demonic deception. And then she describes in detail what Saint Kendeas told her and showed her the third time. What matters is that the events unfolded exactly as the Saint foretold. The nuns supplied themselves with enough food, in order to not be forced to leave the Convent during the war, and the Turks stopped exactly where the Saint had mentioned.

Cyprus, "according to the judgement of the Lord", has been almost half occupied by the Turks, but Saint Kendeas, as he himself said, prayed to the Lord and the Convent remains free, in order to be a source of consolation and spiritual replenishment for the faithful, especially for the residents of adjacent villages that remain free.

The life and disposition of Saint Kendeas gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

God is the One Who governs history and provides for all His creation, especially for man, whom He formed with great care "in His image and according to His likeness". None of the events that happen in our lives are random, but all is guided by the foreknowledge and love of God, Who is constantly working out our salvation without, however, encroaching on our freedom. Also, His mother, the Panagia, as well as His friends, the saints, protect all those who call upon them, and with the boldness they have before God they constantly interceded for them. They are the greatest friends of the faithful and especially of those who hurt. They are sensitive to human suffering, because they suffered in their lives, and they suffered many and varied temptations which, however, they faced with faith and hope in God, from Whom they derived consolation, strength and patience.

The temptations in our lives are not a curse, but a blessing and, as Saint John Chrysostom stresses, we must rejoice over them and be saddened over sin, and not do the opposite. He says: "We should not be saddened when some evil befalls us, but rather when we do something evil. We, however, have reversed things. Thus, though we may commit countless evils, we are neither saddened nor ashamed. If, however, even the smallest evil happens to us from someone, then we lose it, we become deeply angered, we become a wreck and do not consider how sorrows and temptations reveal the care of God for us even more than pleasant circumstances." He continues: "This is why, therefore, there is sadness and depression, not so they dominate over us when a loved one dies or when we lose money or when we are tested by some failure, but in order to help us in our spiritual struggles... Let us not be saddened over the sorrow and damage caused to us by others, but rather for our sins, by which we sadden God. Because our sins chase God far away, while sorrows by which we are tested from other people, makes Him remain near us as a protector."

Pain purifies, pacifies and pleases man, when they are confronted with a eucharistic and doxological disposition and are considered as a manifestation of the love, care and protection of God.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Άγιος Κενδέας", September 2013. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.