September 7, 2019

Who Is Saint Sostis?

Throughout Greece, especially on the islands and anywhere near the sea, there are chapels, islands, villages and beaches named after Saint Sostis (Άγιος Σώστης). However, in the Synaxarion of the Church, there is no Saint that goes by the name "Sostis." This leaves us with the question: Who is Saint Sostis?

The name "Sostis" is just the way certain Greeks pronounce the name "Sozon" or "Sozontos." Saint Sozon (Άγιος Σώζων) was a holy Martyr who is commemorated on September 7th and was a shepherd in Lycaonia. Born a pagan with the name Tarasios, he received holy Baptism and was renamed Sozon. Filled with zeal for his faith in Christ and the one true God, he taught his countrymen to desist from the worship of idols. Once he entered the temple of Artemis in Pompeiopolis of Cilicia, cut off the golden hand of the idol, and breaking it in pieces, distributed it among the poor. When he saw that many were being unjustly punished for the theft, of his own accord he gave himself up to Maximian the Governor. He was beaten with rods until his bones were broken. According to some, he suffered martyrdom in 288; according to others, in 304.

Even though Saint Sozon was a shepherd, somehow he became for Greeks the patron saint of sailors and those traveling by sea, much like Saint Nicholas. When he is referred to as Saint Sostis, it is because of his role as the patron of those traveling by sea, since the word sostis in informal Greek means "savior" or more literally "the one who saves," whereas the word sozon is a more formal way of saying it, therefore "Sostis" serves as an epithet. It is believed that many if not all the chapels bearing the name Saint Sostis are the result of his direct intervention of saving someone who was in some sort of trouble at sea. For this reason those who find themselves in some trouble at sea will call upon Αη Σώστη (Ai Sosti) to help them and deliver them.