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May 7, 2016

Saint George of Gomati (+ 1845)

St. George of Gomati (Feast Day - First Saturday of May)

Saint George lived in Gomati of Halkidiki in the early nineteenth century, when Greece was enslaved to the Turks. He had a family with children and was a miller by profession. His love and philanthropy were known throughout the region. For the poor he would grind the wheat for free and gave flour to the needy. To this day one could see the ruins of his mill.

During that difficult period of Ottoman rule and the constant revolutionary movements in Halkidiki, he lost his family and sought to leave the world behind. He ascended the mountain above his mill to live as an ascetic, alone with God.

Tradition says that there were going through the region a Turkish military contingent. Because he feared that the soldiers would certainly go by the mill to grab some flour and wheat, he advised his wife and children to stay in the village for safety.

But they did not listen to him and when the Turkish army passed, they found his family and captured them. When the Saint returned, he found his mill in ruins, the flour stolen and his family gone.

His heart broke with the destruction of his family and property. Then he made the big decision to dedicate his life to God. For an arena of his asceticism and spiritual struggles he chose a cave.

There he spent his life in unceasing prayer, perfect fasting and rigorous asceticism. The greenery of the mountain was his only food. We assume he lived as a hermit, without ever having taken the monastic schema.

In this phase of his life, he never failed to show love and compassion towards others. Secretly he would descend from his hermitage at night, and leave outside the doors of pregnant women, the sick and the poor both wood and greenery. He took care of the gardens and vineyards of the poor villagers and guarded the animals of those in need.

Once when they lost track of him, acquaintances who were shepherds looked for him. They ascended to his hermitage and found him in his cave dead, and his body was fragrant. His body had worn away from asceticism and fasting and the entire area was fragrant. Other Christians went there along with the priest of the village and reverently took up his holy relic, and brought it to the cemetery of the village for burial. Along the way, the holy relic became unbearable, to the point where they could no longer move it. The priest said that this was a sign that his body was to be buried there. Indeed, they buried him at that spot, where today there is a chapel dedicated to the Saint, on the road towards Gomati.

Later, over his tomb they built a chapel of dry stone. Then a new small chapel was built. He is so familiar and loved by the locals, that they call him "Papou Ai-Georgi" ("Grandfather Saint George"). He is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of May.

After his repose the Saint began to work many miracles, a proof of his holiness. God gave the Saint a special gift to heal the pain of children's ears.