April 24, 2017

Synaxis of Panagia Voithia in Chios

Synaxis of Panagia Voithia (Feast Day - 8 Days After Pascha)


The Icon of the Theotokos displayed in the Monastery,
Gives joy and salvation to all.

Three kilometers from the city of Chios, built on a hill in Frangomahala overlooking the entire countryside of the island, is the Monastery of Panagia Voithia, built with a lot of sweat and longing by Saint Anthimos of Chios (Feb. 15) and completed in 1930.

While browsing the courtyard, one feels as if time has stopped. This is a phenomenon felt by every visitor. Inside the main church is the honorable skull of the Saint. Many visitors when entering this church, becoming witnesses of a strange heavenly fragrance, which has its source in the holy relic of the Saint.

Saint Anthimos (July 1, 1869 - February 15, 1960) was a native of Chios, born to devout parents. After a short stay at the monastery directed by Saint Pachomios (Oct. 14), he returned home and built himself a small hut and dwelt in it. His only help in his spiritual contests was an icon of the Mother of God given to him by his mother later known as Panagia Voithia (the Helper), which soon began to work miracles, drawing many to his hermitage. He had returned home to relieve the suffering of his parents and help the poor of his village as well. After a time he retired to the Skete of the Holy Fathers, and it was here that he became a Small Schema monk and took the name Anthimos given by Elder Pachomios. After this he was put in charge of building the Convent of Saint Constantine. However, he soon fell ill and his abbot sent him home to his parents for the sake of his health.

Increasing numbers of visitors came to his hermitage and wonderworking icon of the Theotokos, and in 1909, at the age of forty, he received the Great Schema by the successor of Pachomios, Hieromonk Andronikos. After a pilgrimage to Mount Athos in 1911, he returned to Chios, where he became chaplain to a leper hospital. Soon the hospital, which had fallen into spiritual corruption, became a spiritual center, as much like a monastery as a hospital. Saint Anthimos tended many of the sickest with his own hands, working many miracles of healing; some of his recovered patients became monks or nuns (such as Venerable Nikephoros the Blind). Thirty-eight people were freed of evil spirits through his fasts and his prayers before the icon of the Mother of God.

With the notorious 'Exchange of Populations' of 1922-1924, refugees poured into Chios, many of them destitute nuns and girls. Ever since his youth, Saint Anthimos had dreamed of founding a monastery on a certain steep uninhabited site that he knew of. Now, in response to a vision of the Mother of God, Saint Anthimos received permission to found a monastery there in 1927, and he confirmed this by drawing lots three times following the Divine Liturgy. He built the monastery in 1930, which opened with thirty nuns and grew rapidly, despite the opposition of many who said that setting up such a community was out of date. The Monastery of Panagia Voithia, as it came to be known, soon housed eighty nuns and was known throughout Greece as a model of monastic life. Father Anthimos served as priest to the nuns, and continued to receive the many faithful — often sixty or seventy per day — who came to him for prayer or counsel. He carried on this ministry for more than thirty years, working many miracles of healing. When he was too old to work with his hands, he retired to his cell and prayed that he be enabled to serve his neighbor until his last breath.

On January 27, 1960 Saint Anthimos celebrated his final Divine Liturgy. He reposed in peace at the age of ninety-one on February 15th, mourned and revered by the whole island of Chios. The remains of Saint Anthimos are in the church inside of the monastery he founded and still work miracles along with the holy icon of Panagia Voithia. He was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on August 13, 1992.

Read also: Saint Anthimos of Chios (+ 1960)

Numerous monastics praise you with songs, the patroness and protectress of the world, you are the source of all sorts of miracles granted to us by the treasured icon of the Theotokos, to her we all cry out: Rejoice the hope of those who honor you, rejoice our boast, rejoice whose grace and name is our Helper.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
With faith let us approach the Theotokos, and her icon let us now venerate, singing hymns with longing. And as you raised your all-holy temple, always protect your flock, that they may chant to you: Rejoice, the Helper of all.

Rejoice the divine Monastery of Chios, which contains as a rich treasure the icon of the Queen, the all-revered and divine, who in name and grace is the Helper.