May 14, 2015

When St. Leontios of Jerusalem Gained the Respect of Pirates

St. Leontios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - May 14)

By Monk Theodosios of Constantinople

At one time, pirates invaded the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian on the island of Patmos, where St. Leontios (+ 1190), the future Patriarch of Jerusalem, was Abbot. The Saint received them with kindness. But, as barbarians, they demanded the usual things - roasted lambs, choice foods, bread and wine. The venerable one told the brethren to offer whatever the Monastery could afford. However, this did not satisfy them; they sought more.

Wherupon, Leontios stood in the midst of them and, with a calm voice, urged them to accept those things that were offered because that was all that the Monastery possessed. This was still unacceptable to them, so they started to taunt the Abbot and threaten the monks. Then, they went down to the shore and set fire to the Monastery's ship. The monks saw this from the Monastery and notified the Saint.

Saint Leontios was terribly grieved and, taking up the icon of Saint John the Theologian, said, before the entire brotherhood: "My beloved John, if you do not punish those criminals for the damage they have brought upon your servants, know that if you will not hearken to me, I shall not remain in your Monastery as abbot!"

Thus, his words became deed! For as the pirates sailed out of the port bound for Icarus, the sea grew calm and their ship came to a halt; then a storm arose, troubling the waters and creating mighty waves which sank the ship with its crew. Those who made it to shore on Icarus were slain by the inhabitants. Indeed, only one woman survived to tell of the miracle to other pirates and, henceforth, they had great respect for the great Leontios.