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December 8, 2021

Saint Parthenios of Chios, the Turkish Officer and the Bishop

Saint Parthenios of Chios (1815-1883), while still a young monk, wanted to asceticize in the area of Mount Penthodos, which belonged to Nea Moni of Chios. The abbot Meletios Flouras not only did not allow him to do so, but also reported him to the Bishop of Chora, Gregory Konstantinides. The Bishop then sent a Turkish officer to arrest the Saint and bring him before him.

The Turkish officer, a man of simplicity and goodwill, went armed and met the young ascetic.

"Are you the monk? Are you the one causing a fuss? Where is your monastery?"

The Saint showed him a cave and a small chapel made of dry stone.

"Wow! Such poverty! They want you to go to jail? A beautiful prison for you."

The ascetic learned the purpose of his coming and asked him if they could leave the next morning. He wanted to avoid, being a young monk, the nocturnal temptations of the city. The Turk showed understanding and asked him:

"And where will I stay the night?"

"There in the cave."

"I won't fit. My heart is pounding."

"Do you want to stay here in the chapel?"

"I want to. But I will sleep outside. Inside it is a sin. You will sleep inside. The chapel is yours."

They ate something poor and the Turkish officer took out and offered to the Saint some raki.

"I do not drink," he said.

"Is it alright if I have a drink here where the Panagia is?"

"It's alright, it's alright if you drink."

He drank a little and fell asleep. At night, at midnight, he woke up, as if he heard a murmur. He approached the chapel, crouched at the door, and was stunned by what he saw. In the trembling light of the lamp the Saint was praying. However, he did not touch the ground and was bathed in a gladsome light! His hands had been raised and the light was radiating around him. In a little while he lowered his hands. The light was lost. The monk was praying for his unworthiness and he was weeping, weeping. And the Turk heard the weeping, shocked, for it was a silent cry and quiet, between the words of his prayers.

As soon as the sun rose, the Turkish officer left, troubled and alone, for Chora. He did not dare to bother the Saint and take him with him.

The Bishop wondered:

"Where is the monk?" he asked.

"Bishop, Master, the monk is a man of God," said the Turk, and told him what he had seen.

The Bishop understood. He learned what he wanted. He now sent another Turkish officer, who brought the Saint on the same day to Chora.

"Are you Parthenios?" he asked him.

"I am," he replied with a deep prostration.

"They accuse you ..."

"They are right. Theirs is the area."

"What are you doing on the mountain?"

"I pray."

"To which Saint?"

"To Saint Symeon the New Theologian."

The Saint's name shook the bishop.

"He saw the uncreated light, but you also see it," he said and fixed his gaze to his own.

"I the sinner?" protested the Saint, ready to weep.

The Bishop was looking at him carefully. He discerned in this monk a divine power. He saw in that thin face a strong glow. He spontaneously got up to kiss him and felt his holiness shake him.

"Okay, my child, go with my good wishes. Journey as you pray, and remember me in your prayer."
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.