June 18, 2018

Saint Kalogeros the Anchorite

St. Kalogeros the Anchorite (Feast Day - June 18)

Kalogeros (Calogerus) is commemorated by the Orthodox Church on June 18, together with Bishop Gregory and the Deacon Demetrios. There are various opinions as to when these Saints existed and under what circumstances. It is generally believed they came from Carthage in North Africa and fled a persecution there which brought them to Sicily. Some believe this took place in the fifth century and the persecution was by the Monophysites, others say it was the sixth century and the persecution was by the Arian Vandals, but another tradition says they probably lived in the late seventh century, and they fled Carthage when the Arab Muslims took Carthage in 698. Though one tradition says they fled, another says they were exiled.

When they arrived in Sicily they were active in the area of Fragalata, near Messina, where they separated to proclaim the gospel and instructed the Christians in the faith of Christ. Though Gregory and Demetrios are called martyrs, there is no indication that they died in this way, though it has been suggested they died during the persecution back in Carthage, and Kalogeros fled to Sicily on his own. It has also been suggested that they were martyred in Sicily by a Monophysite bishop or Vandals who were Arians.

Kalogeros is held to have worked as a missionary on Lipari in the Aeolian Islands, before retiring to live as a hermit on Monte Kronio, which is now sometimes called in Sicilian: Monte San Caluòru (Italian: Monte San Calogero) in his honor, as is another mountain near Palermo. Here he lived for thirty-five years. He is noted to have been a mentor of other monks, a conqueror of demons and a wonderworker. He reposed in 561 in Agrigento.

Hagiographic traditions say that during his old age, Kalogeros no longer was able to collect the herbs to feed on, so he fed on the milk of a deer that was sent to him by God. One day, however, the hunter Siero, called Arcario because he hunted with the bow and arrows, accidentally killed the animal. Sorrowful for having made such an error, he became a disciple of the Saint, at the death of the Saint, which took place after forty days. The same archer buried him in a cave on the mountain, known only to him. He later transformed the cave where Kalogeros lived into a small church, where he stayed together with other disciples. Later the cells that formed the dormitories were dug into the rock: they were called Quarto degli Eremi. Because of the Saracen invasions in Sicily, the Agrigentinian bishop of the time, not to disperse the relics, brought them in the Messina area to the Basilian Monastery of San Filippo di Fragalà, near Frazzanò. Nowadays the sacred remains rest in a wooden box in the mother church of Frazzanò, Diocese of Patti, together with those of the patron and fellow citizen of the city of San Lorenzo.

Saint Kalogeros is venerated at Agrigento more than Saint Gerland, who is the patron of Agrigento. Other centers in which Saint Kalogeros is particularly venerated are Porto Empedocle, Naro, Sciacca, Frazzanó, San Salvatore di Fitalia, Cesaró, Petralia Sottana and Campofranco. In iconography he is usually identifiable as a bearded hermit with dark skin wearing eastern (Syriac) hooded vestments.