September 7, 2018

Holy New Martyr Lygeri of Chios (+ 1822)

St. Lygeri of Chios (Feast Day - September 6)

The Holy New Martyr Lygeri was born in the village of Anavatos on the island of Chios in 1804. Her parents were simple islanders who had great faith in God, and passed this faith on to their daughter, who was loved by all.

In 1822 the Turkish pasha of Chios beheld the beauty of the young maiden Lygeri while he was in her village. He immediately desired to have her and ordered that she be brought before him. He promised her wealth, glory, honor and power if she would consent to being his lover. But she, immediately, rejected his offer.

Her refusal greatly disappointed the pasha, but he held on to the hope that she would change her mind and fulfill his sinful desire. He would frequently send men to the village, who renewed the offer of the pasha to the young maiden, but each time she firmly rejected the proposal.

On the 6th of September in the year 1822, shortly after the Great Massacre of Chios, when the villagers were celebrating the Miracle of the Archangel Michael in Chonae, the Turkish pasha had the eighteen year old maiden Lygeri abducted. He had sent his soldiers to abduct her while everyone was distracted by the celebration and dancing. When they saw the soldiers, they ran away and scattered. Lygeri remained unmoved, and when the soldiers approached her and tried to get her to willingly go with her, she refused once more, so she was taken by force and taken to the pasha, who waited for her in a place called Elenta.

Throughout this ordeal Lygeri remained firm in her faith in Christ and constantly prayed to the Bridegroom of her soul. On their way to the pasha, when they reached a steep point, she caught hold of a wild plum tree with such strength, that it was impossible for the soldiers to peel her off the tree. They then began to abuse her, curse her and threatened to kill her on the spot if she refused to let go of the tree. She responded: "I was born a Christian and a Christian I will die. I will not change my faith. I refuse to go any further. Do with me as you wish."

Then a brutal black slave named Lazo took out his yatagan (an Ottoman knife) and decapitated her. He then took her head and ran towards Elenta. Some Christians who witnessed this began to chase after him, though in vain. Her headless body reddened the earth with her blood. Her mother ran to her, with tears in her eyes, but also pride, because her daughter was made worthy to be a martyr for Christ. She therefore took three handfuls of her blood and made the sign of the cross on nearby rocks with it. One of these can still be seen today.

When the black slave Lazo arrived in Elenta with the head of Lygeri, he presented it to the pasha. The pasha, who wanted Lygeri alive to be his lover, became enraged at Lazo and beheaded him. He then departed with sadness for the city of Chios and raised a black flag on his ship. The place of her martyrdom became a place of pilgrimage for the people of Chios, who today honor Saint Lygeri every September 6th.