November 20, 2015

Saint Sozomonos the Wonderworker of Karpasia

St. Sozomenos of Karpasia (Feast Day - November 20)

Saint Sozomenos lived as hermit in a cave on Mount Kompsa in the Karpas peninsula. The biographer of the Saint, Monk Akakios, who wrote his divine service mentions the following in his synaxarion about the Saint:

"The hermitage where this Saint Sozomenos lived as a hermit, in a cave on a mountain near the villages of Tavrou, Galatia, Livadi and other villages, in a plateau, is called Kompsa, and over there, his holy church is built, and inside it is the cave where he lived as an ascetic life. Some of the remains of the Saint still survive, and they issue forth a very pleasant scent, and the Christians venerate them, all those who go there for their illnesses to be cured. This holy Saint works so many miracles, as much as to the faithful Christians as to the Agarene [Muslim] unbelievers, who go with their wives and quickly get well, if they have faith and a longing for God and for the Saint.

And inside the church towards the north, there is an arch, and in there, the Saint has been painted as an old man and not as a hierarch, and there are letters saying "Agios Sozomenos" (like I read them when I was a child and still lived with my parents, during the year of Christ 1670). There were still some remains of the Saint left at that time, and they were inside the holy cave, where he passed away. But now [1733], I don't know if some of his remains still survive, because during the time of the Christ-hater and cursed from God Markoullis, who took the census, namely the population inventory, Cyprus was devastated and many Christians of the island were killed. Some became Muslims and were Turkified, others left and went to other places, like my relatives who left at that time, and we went to the lands of Cilicia and stayed there for 50 years, and when my parents died, I came again back to Cyprus during the year of Christ 1731. And I stayed at the city of Karpasia [of Rizokarpaso] and wrote the divine service for a few new saints. Saint Sozomenos, I believe, lived during the Christian era [314-1191] and because he is a new Saint and is not found in the books of the Holy [Orthodox] Church of Christ, I took the initiative, because of the many miracles that the Saint performs and does, and composed these few verses [which are to be found in his divine service], and I hope that they will be found by Christians in future years, and copy them, and read them, and chant them during his feast day."

And Monk Akakios continues writing that according to the tradition of the residents of the region, Saint Auxentios, who lived as a hermit farther north, not very far, to the north of the village of Eftakomi, used to leave his hermitage each Saturday evening and came and met Saint Sozomenos at his hermitage, and they prayed and chanted together until Sunday evening, when at which time he left and returned back to his own hermitage after receiving forgiveness. Thus, all week they lived and prayed alone as hermits and during the weekends they met and prayed together.

From the above tradition, the conclusion is given that this Saint must have been one of the 300 Christians that reached Cyprus from Palestine after the persecutions of the Arabs.

Near the village of Davlos in the Karpas peninsula, to the east, next to the sea, there is a picturesque chapel dedicated to Saint Sozomenos, which today is under Turkish occupation. It has been sacked by the Turks. Most likely, this chapel is dedicated to Saint Sozomenos, the hermit who lived on Mount Kompsa because in distance Davlos is near enough to this Saint's hermitage, around 12 kilometres, and not to the hermitage of Saint Sozomenos of Potamia which is very far away, at the province Nicosia. This chapel of Saint Sozomenos must have been built many years ago, most likely by somebody from the village of Davlos who suffered from some kind of illness and in order for it to be cured by the Saint, he promised to build a church in his name. It appears that after the Saint cured his illness, the patient built this church for the Saint.

However, in Davlos Saint Sozomenos is celebrated by the residents of the village on the 7th of August, the day on which the Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of the Saint and Martyr Dometios.

The last known miracle made by Saint Sozomenos took place a few years before the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and it happened as follows: A faithful Christian who honored Saint Sozomenos, happened to have a wound on one of his legs which was caused by infection, and which in the Cypriot dialect is called limpourka which means "ant-hive" in English. He went to many doctors in many countries of the world. The result was zero, and while feeling distressed, as he was in the bed of pain in England, because it was said to him by the doctors that there was no other treatment other than to cut his leg in order to save his life, he began to plea to Saint Sozomenos in order to find an exit from the impasse that he was found in. In his despair he called out: "My God help me, Saint Sozomenos save me." Afterwards, he fell into a light drowsiness and during that time he saw an aged and revered man approaching and saying to him: "What happened to you, man of God, and you are laid down sick and distressed?" The man showed him his leg and said: "This is what happened to me." The Saint said: "What did the doctors say to you?" The patient answered that the doctors wanted to cut his leg. And the Saint said to him: "Don't accept it; I will heal you by the grace of Christ. I do not want anything from you other than to make (the celebration) of my feast day." And after he made the sign of the Cross on the patient's leg, he was immediately healed, and right after, the Saint disappeared. When the patient woke up, he saw that his leg was truly cured. From then on, up until the time he died, he celebrated the feast of the Saint on the 7th of August of each year. The name of the cured man is Konstantinos Koumantaris from the village of Davlos, Famagusta.

Is it also reported by Monk Akakios that Saint Sozomenos served as bishop of Karpasia (of Rizokarpaso).

The memory of Saint Sozomenos of Karpasia is celebrated on the 20th of November, where thousands of faithful gather to celebrate his memory.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
The faithful run, thrice-blessed Father Sozomenos, to the vessel holding your relics and faithfully venerate the image bearing your likeness; grant them the remission of their faults and the healing of their bodies, and from all dangers and sufferings and sicknesses rescue us all.