November 1, 2015

Saint David of Evia

St. David of Evia (Feast Day - November 1)

Venerable David was born at the beginning of the 16th century in the sea-side village of Gardinitza, opposite the island of Evia. His father was a devout and virtuous priest. When David was no more than three years old, Saint John the Baptist appeared to him one night and took him to the nearby church which was dedicated to him. He remained standing there, barefoot, for six days, lost in the vision, in front of the icon of the Forerunner. Nourished from an early age on the principles of obedience to his parents, asceticism and ceaseless prayer, he left his family home at the age of fifteen, in search of a spiritual father. He found him in the person of the Hieromonk Akakios, who was well-known in the villages of the region for his virtuous life and powerful preaching.

David was tonsured a monk in Akakios’ monastery, and there demonstrated perfect obedience, accompanied with humility and unceasing prayer. Because his Elder wished to find a monastery more advanced in the spiritual life, David followed him first to Ossa, near Olympus, and then, after he had been ordained deacon, on a pilgrimage to the monasteries on the Holy Mountain. Akakios went on to Constantinople alone, leaving David in the Great Lavra. Akakios was consecrated Metropolitan of Arta and Nafpaktos by Patriarch Jeremiah, and soon afterwards summoned David to his see to assist him with his pastoral duties.

Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia

Despite living in the world, David did not relax in the slightest his fasting, all-night-vigils, countless prostrations and complete obedience to his spiritual father. He soon became a priest and was appointed Abbot of the Monastery of the Mother of God, known as Varnakova, near Nafpaktos. But his zeal and spiritual demands were a cause of conflict with the lax monks there, who wanted nothing other than to do their own will. So he left the monastery and went to look for a place of tranquillity. He settled in a barren place on a mountain near Parnassos. While there he was attacked by a great many satanic temptations.

Charged with sheltering a runaway slave, he was arrested by the Turks and subjected to torture over a long period of time, before being freed through the payment of a ransom collected by the faithful living in the area. He then set off to find a new hermitage on the island of Evia. There he rebuilt a small church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Savior and it was not long before a group of disciples gathered who shared his way of life and love of prayer. In imitation of Christ, David showed boundless love towards all who came to him, especially the poor, upon whom he could not look without shedding tears.

Dormition of Saint David

He shared the monastery’s goods unstintingly with all those in need, deserving or not, Christian or Muslim. And so he spent many years radiating the presence of God with his virtues and many miracles. While he was traveling to mediate in the divisions among the bishops of the Peloponnese, his ship shank and David was saved by a miracle. Having been deemed worthy of the gift of foresight, he helped a great many people to find salvation and knew in advance the day of his death. He gathered his disciples and passed to them his final spiritual instructions. He departed this life at the moment when he had confided to those around him that Christ had just then appeared to him. After his demise (in either 1589 or 1601), a large number of miracles occurred at the Saint’s grave.

Source: Νέος Συναξαριστής της Ορθοδόξου Εκκλησίας Indiktos Publications, November, pp. 17-9.

Skull of St. David

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
A great boast of Evia were you proved to be, the all-glorious, David the divine, as a holy descendant of virtue, and a most-true defender of Christ, and equal to all the Venerable Ones. Therefore Venerable Father, entreat Christ God, to grant us great mercy.

Additional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O David, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Elder Iakovos Tsalikes, who lived in asceticism in the Monastery of the Venerable David throughout his life and was deemed many visions of the Venerable David, in this photo is seen wearing the Saint's epitrachelion and holding his censer and stick which helped him stand during all-night vigils.