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August 18, 2015

Holy New Hieromartyr Agapios of Galatista (+ 1752)

St. Agapios the Hieromartyr of Galatista (Feast Day - August 18)

The Holy Hieromartyr Agapios of Galatista was born in the town of Galatista in Halkidiki around 1710. Galatista at that time was an episcopal see. There Agapios received a well-rounded education. At that time Galatista, like other places in Halkidiki, "had plenty of good schools with trained and personal teachers providing a formidable education." The same town was the birthplace of the hagiographers Galatsanoi, who painted many icons and murals in Mount Athos and are preserved at Vatopaidi Monastery.

As a young man he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Jerusalem, where he remained and was tonsured a monk, joining the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. He was ordained a priest of the All-Holy Sepulchre by Patriarch Parthenios (1737–1766).

Then he was sent to serve as a priest at the metochion of the Holy Sepulchre in Thessaloniki, which was the Church of the New Panagia near the White Tower, where it still stands today. During his stay there he taught at the Astiki School of Thessaloniki.

In 1743 Patriarch Parthenios of Jerusalem sent Archimandrite Agapios to Moscow to collect funds for the large debt of the Holy Sepulchre to the lenders of the Patriarchate. Due to many and various problems Agapios remained in Russia until 1747 and returned with a sufficient amount to repay the debt.

When he returned to Thessaloniki he continued to teach at the school there. He also taught as a professor at Athoniada School, near Vatopaidi Monastery. With the recommendation of the wise teacher Eugenios Voulgaris the Saint was appointed by the venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate as Dean of Athoniada. In a letter to Agapios from Ioannina dated 10 April 1752, Eugenios Voulgaris congratulated him on his appointment at Athoniada.

On the 18th of August in 1752 "the virtuous and wise Archimandrite of the All-Holy Sepulchre, the great Teacher of our Nation, the most wise Dean of Athoniada, Agapios the Agiotafites, was martyred outside of Thessaloniki, near Therme, by wicked Janissaries, as he was coming from Galatista to Thessaloniki."

We know that during this period the army of violent Janissaries in the area were looting and killing the Orthodox people. It is unknown what happened during the arrest and martyrdom of Agapios. Nor do we know where he was buried and what happened to his relics.

The first event in honor of Saint Agapios was in 1977 at his birthplace by the Metropolitan Nikodemos of Ierissos, Athos and Ardameriou, with actions of his Chancellor the Archimandrite Chrysostomos Maidoni. His icon was painted by the iconographer of Mount Athos Monk Benedict Neoskitiotis in 1997 and placed in the Church of Panagia Galatista. A temple was erected in his honor in his homeland. A sacred service was composed by the hymnographer Haralambos Bousias.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.