May 6, 2016

The Love of St. Sophia of Kleisoura for Animals

The love of Sophia did not stop only with animals. She spread her love and embraced the whole creation, rational and irrational, tame and wild. In the wild mountains around the monastery there were many bears, wolves and other wild beasts. Sophia had befriended all of them.

Of the many examples, we will record two or three which show a particular grace.

A retired military man, who used to visit Sophia until her last, from the time he served in the region during the war and later in 1949, narrated something incredible by today's standards.

Sophia had a bear that she would feed by hand, with bread and anything else that was edible. And that big yet harmless beast would take the food, lick her hands and feet out of gratitude, and again get lost in the woods. This bear she had even given a name, "Come, my Rousa, to eat the bread," she would say.

Demetrios G., born in 1960, from Ptolemais, adds that many times, as he saw it, Sophia would tie the bear to the fountain of the garden. But if someone happened to see this spectacle in ignorance, with the bear tied up, or Sophia feeding it by hand without any precaution, they would freeze from fear.

Vasiliki K. from Varyko, who at that time lived at the monastery, also saw the bear. There was someone from the military who wanted to kill it, not knowing the intimacy it had with Sophia. When she saw him aiming the barrel of the gun, she yelled and approached him, but as he justified his action, she explained her friendship with the tamed animal.

Other pilgrims saw three snakes sleeping with her, at her headrest, and they neither bothered her nor did she bother them. Mrs. Kitsa tells how "they were thin, like an arrow. When you saw them, you would get scared, but Sophia would say to us: 'Don't be afraid, they don't bite at all.'"

Some, who had accompanied her to light the lamps at Holy Trinity, saw a large snake wandering in the church. Immediately they were terrified and tried to kill it, but Sophia prevented them, "Since he isn't bothering you, why do you bother it? This belongs to the church."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.