October 29, 2015

Holy New Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (+ 1820)

St. Timothy of Esphigmenou (Feast Day - October 29)

Saint Timothy was born in the village of Paraora, in the district of Kessane in Thrace, and his birth name was Triantaphyllos. Later he married and had two daughters.

At a certain point in their marriage, his wife, having become beguiled by the devil and enamored by a Turk, converted to Islam to marry him, so she abandoned her husband and their two daughters. Meanwhile, Triantaphyllos hid his daughters with relatives in a nearby village to protect them from their mother.

After some time had passed Triantaphyllos sent his wife a message urging her to return to her family and to Orthodoxy. Repenting for the abandonment of her family and her apostasy, she responded positively, but could not immediately escape from her situation. For this reason Triantaphyllos presented himself before the Turkish judge and asked to be circumcised a Muslim. He did this to be in a position to rescue his wife.

Having reconciled with his wife, they went back to their village and ostensibly lived as Muslims, but secretly they were Orthodox Christians. They then arranged with some pious friends to have their daughters adopted by them, and husband and wife both vowed to enter the monastic life. They first went to the city of Ainos, and from there they went to Kydonies, where his wife entered a convent. Triantaphyllos went on to Mount Athos and entered Great Lavra Monastery, where he labored as a gardener. When he became a monk in this monastery, he received the name Timothy. After six years of labors and struggles to repent and obtain the virtues, he heard of the martyrdom of Saint Agathangelos of Esphigmenou (Apr. 19), so inspired by his example he moved to Esphigmenou Monastery, where he received the great schema and began to prepare for his own martyrdom.

When he was ready to fulfill his desire for martyrdom, he received the blessing of the abbot and traveled east to the Hellespont. He had begged the abbot for a blessing to stop by his village of Kessane to say farewell to his daughters. The abbot would not allow him to do that out of fear that a meeting with his two daughters would soften him, and turn him away from martyrdom for the faith. When he got to his village, he met a former neighbor, conversed with him and gave him a farewell message for his daughters. In vain, the neighbor begged him to stay and see his daughters, and rest. Timothy went hurriedly on his way. The daughters heard about their father from the neighbor and ran to see him. And now was seen a rare and majestic sight. The daughters raced to overtake and embrace their father, while the father fled from his daughters, so as not to transgress the command of his abbot. The daughters ran quickly but their father ran even faster. The daughters hurried to embrace their father, and Timothy, fleeing from them, hurried to embrace death. The daughters became weary and turned back in despair, and their father disappeared.

In the Hellespont Timothy met two companions, the Hieromonks Euthymios and Germanos, who resolved to share his purpose. Having dressed as a layman he returned to his village with Euthymios and they preached the Christian faith to the Muslims. Soon they were taken into custody by the authorities, and placed in the prison of the city of Adrianople. There they were imprisoned with the Hieromonk Nicholas and the Monk Barnabas, who were daily tortured to deny their faith in Christ, but they bore the torments steadfastly. Euthymios and Timothy joined them in being daily tortured.

Not long after Germanos visited them in jail and brought them Holy Communion. The five Confessors kept a vigil without books, and instead of readings from Holy Scripture each recounted the torments they endured for Christ. For some unknown reason, these Confessors for Christ were all released from prison, but Timothy was detained and sentenced to be beheaded. Before his death Timothy begged his spiritual father, Germanos, to stop by his village and inform his daughters of his end by martyrdom.

On October 29, 1820 Saint Timothy was beheaded, his face radiant with peace and joy as he awaited the edge of the sword, which dismayed the executioners. Germanos was able to purchase his bloodstained clothing and they were given to Timothy's daughters, to whom he recounted their father's heroic and martyric end. The remainder of his clothing was sent to Esphigmenou Monastery. The Turks threw the body of Saint Timothy into a nearby river.