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August 16, 2017

Saint Timothy the Bishop of Euripos and Founder of Penteli Monastery (+ 1590)

St. Timothy the Bishop of Euripos (Feast Day - August 16)

Our Holy Father Timothy was born in 1510 at Kalamos of Attica, and according to tradition his father was an educated priest who passed on this education to his son. At a young age he had a spiritual relationship with the Bishop of Orion in Evia, who saw his deep faith and rare spiritual gifts, and thus sponsored him to study in Athens. Having completed his studies, Timothy returned to his spiritual father in Orion, who tonsured him a monk, then ordained him a deacon and a presbyter. In 1553 the Bishop of Orion reposed and Timothy was elected to replace him. Then in 1555 he was elevated to become Metropolitan of Euripos, which was centered in Chalkida.

During his episcopacy, in the days of Sultan Selim II (1566-1574) and Patriarch Jeremiah II (1572-1595), there was issued firman from the Sultan, which forced the conversion of Christian churches into mosques. Saint Timothy protested strongly this decision, even exercising a harsh criticism. This brought him into a conflict with the Turkish pasha of Euripos, who wanted to expel and exterminate him.

Procession icon of the Saint from 1861

The expulsion of the Saint was also due to the sad fact that the abbot of the Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Galataki in Evia had been totally severed from Saint Timothy, because the Church of Panagia Perivleptos near the village of Politika, was claimed by both the village of Politika and the Galataki Monastery. The Saint by his letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate defended the claim of the church and its real estate to belong to the inhabitants of the village of Politika, which severed him along with the property aspirations of the abbot of the Monastery of Galataki, who managed to attract the favor of the pasha of Euripos and expressed to him his hostile opposition to the Metropolitan.

The wife of the pasha, who was a Crypto-Christian, informed Saint Timothy that his life was in danger, and urged him to secretly leave Evia and sent him a large sum of money. So one night in 1572 he left Evia and departed with a small escort consisting of his deacon and a priest to the opposite coast of Attica, where Kalamos was his particular homeland. There he was hosted for some time in the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Kalolivadi, founded around the sixth century, which he reorganized and rejuvenated spiritually.

Oldest icon of the Saint from the 17th century in the Church of Saint George of Vraurona.

The Saint came to the point where he searched for a suitable place to live a hesychastic life. Towards this end he was led to the ascetic caves and cells of Mount Penteli, which in the days of the Roman Empire was known as Mount Amomon. The acquaintance of the Saint with the ascetics of Mount Penteli, who possessed every form of virtue, created such an enthusiasm within him, that he was attracted to the place and decided to build a monastery there.

At first he lived as an ascetic in the Kallisia area of Penteli, where the Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Kallissia was founded around the middle of the sixteenth century, and then he settled in the deserted Skete of the Holy Trinity "of the Water", where until today there exists the 15th-16th century church, which is a dependency of Penteli Monastery.

Penteli Monastery

In an effort to search for a suitable site to set up his monastery, he discovered within the forest a skeleton of an ascetic, on whom was a small icon of Panagia Glykophilousa. Having buried the skeleton of the unknown ascetic, he decided to build a monastery in this place in the name of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, since this was God's will. The monastery was completed in 1578, at which time it is believed that the monastery was founded, according to the inscription, although the monastery had been built at least three years earlier, in 1575. The main church of the monastery was renovated in 1768 and 1858, while during the renovation of the year 1953 it took its present form.

Saint Timothy remained in the monastery until 1580, marking the historic monastery as a great spiritual lighthouse of Attica with numerous monks reaching eighty in number, while also taking care of the acquisition of important land with estates in Koropi, Gerakas and Vraurona.

Head of the Saint

The longing of Saint Timothy for more quiet and greater ascetic feats led him to retreat to the Hermitage of Saint George in Gargittos, but his reputation for holiness became widely known and this interrupted his ascetic and hesychastic aspirations. For this reason he fled Gargittos and went to the Hermitage of Saint George in Vraurona, which lay in ruins. There he renovated the Church of Saint George (which today houses the oldest iconographic depiction of Saint Timothy from the early seventeenth century), and built cells around the chapel. There with zeal and devotion to ascetic struggle, combined with constant prayer, he was led to the highest levels of spiritual experience.

According to tradition, an Ottoman woman who was a landowner, and who lived in the deserted Tower of Vraurona, resorted to the Saint crying and begged him to save her children, who had been kidnapped by pirates and were on ships in the sea. Then the wonderworking hierarch prayed to the Lord and the Most Holy Theotokos for the salvation and release of the children. His fervent prayer immediately caused a wild sea storm, which forced the pirate ships to return to the coast so that the pirates were forced to release the children. After the accomplished miracle the mother fell at the feet of the Saint and wept with deep gratitude. Indeed, she and all her family were baptized as Christians, while in gratitude she donated to the Saint a part of her property in the area of ​​Vraurona, which Saint Timothy donated to Penteli Monastery.

Icon of Panagia Glykophilousa which the Saint found over the skeleton of the unknown ascetic, and has been missing since 1966.

However, there were some residents who feared the Holy One with suspicion and fear, seeing that he was acquiring property in the area, but also fearing that he would probably take their own estates to increase his fortune. Therefore they forced the Saint to leave the area, and even went so far as to burn his boat. In a virtuous manner the Saint left on his half destroyed boat, using his cassock attached to his staff as a sail, and he arrived at the island of Kea, or Tzia, in the Cyclades.

In Kea he settled in the abandoned Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner on so-called Mount Elleniko, which had been founded in the twelfth century by Emperor Alexios Komnenos, and he tried to restore it. Next to the monastery he erected a small chapel dedicated to Saint Penteleimon. After the repose of the Saint this monastery became stavropegic in 1626, but it was dissolved in 1834 under King Otto. This chapel, dedicated to Saint Panteleimon, influenced the changing of the name of the region from Elleniko to Agio Panteleimona, as it is still called today.

Saint Timothy, however, seeking more quietness and isolation, went during the summer months to a cave in the Louros region, which was a short distance from the Monastery of the Forerunner. In this cave, which is known as the Cave of the Monk, the ascetic bishop engaged himself in unceasing prayer and asceticism. The Cave of the Monk at Louros is the most important place for the inhabitants of Kea to remind them of the passage of the Saint on the island.

He stayed in Kea for about ten years until he died peacefully on August 16, 1590, at about eighty years old. His sacred relic was buried with reverence in the Chapel of Saint Panteleimon in front of the Holy Altar.

Hermitage of Saint Timothy, where the Saint lived in asceticism in Gargittos of Mount Penteli.

Some time after his repose, Saint Timothy appeared in the dream of a monk of the Penteli Monastery and gave him the command to go to Kea and carry his sacred relic to the monastery, and so it happened. Thus the sacred and fragrant relic of the monument of Penteli Monastery, Saint Timothy the Bishop of Euripos, returned to the monastery he had founded in 1578.

The relic was kept in a pearl box until the period of the siege of the Turks (25 April - 20 July 1821), since in the days of the abbot Neophytos Degleris (1821-1844) of the Penteli Monastery, it was decided for security reasons to transfer the treasures of the monastery, among them being the sacred relic of Saint Timothy, to the sixteenth century Dependency of the Holy Dynameos (Nativity of the Theotokos), where there were underground hiding places. Thus all the precious treasures were transferred there together with the library of the monastery, which was later transferred to the Acropolis. But when the Pasha Omer Vryonis invaded Athens on July 20, 1821, the Turkish soldiers besieging the Acropolis discovered the hiding place in the Dependency of the Holy Dynameos by an elderly woman who revealed the hidden treasures, since she did not withstand the torture of the Turks.

Entrance to the Hermitage of Saint Timothy

After the revelation the precious treasures were looted, while the sacred relics and manuscripts were delivered to the flames. However, by divine economy, the sacred head of Saint Timothy's and the icon of Panagia Glykophilousa survived, but the icon was stolen in April of 1966 and since then its fate has been unknown. The rescue of Saint Timothy's sacred head and the icon of the Virgin Mary is due to the fact that a few days before July 20, 1821, these two sacred treasures were carried to the Acropolis to perform a sanctification of the waters service and procession to deal with an epidemic.

Church of the Holy Dynameos (Nativity of the Theotokos)

Indeed, at the end of July 1821 and after the siege was over, Abbot Neophytos Degleris resorted to Aegina for safety reasons, but with him he took the Saint's sacred head. In this way, the holy and wondrous head of Saint Timothy was preserved, which has since been preserved in the Holy Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos at Penteli and specifically in the homonymous chapel, which is located within the building complex.

Head of the Saint