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February 7, 2020

Venerable Peter of Monovaton

St. Peter of Monovatois (Feast Day - February 7)


Peter accomplished great struggles,
In the heavens he gained an all-honorable crown.

On this day we commemorate our Venerable Father Peter, who struggled in Monovaton.*


* We have no other information about this Saint. It is unclear where Monovaton (or Monovatois) is, but it probably refers to either the Monastery of Monovaton (whose geographic location is unknown but was a place of exile for influential people in the 10th and 11th centuries; according to some scholars it may have been located on the border between Pontus and Armenia) or the fortified city of Monemvasia in the southern Peloponnese (of which the name Monovaton is a variant). There is however a 10th century miniature of him in a Gospel manuscript from Sinai (gr. 204, fol. 5) simply titled "Hosios Petros" under February 7th, placed in a special place after the Virgin Mary and before the Evangelists, but for an unknown reason.

Interestingly, the Bollandists speculated he may have been the ascetic known as Peter the Solitary, who lived in Jordan, and is mentioned by John Moschos in his Spiritual Meadow in chapter 92, where it says:

"The following tale was told to us, that is to brother Sophronios the Sophist and me, by our father abbot Gregory, the archimandrite of the Monastery of our Holy Father Theodosios, in the desert near the holy city of Christ our Lord.

'I had a brother here called Gregory of Cappadocia, who worked however in Phaselus. Now one day when the brothers were making bread brother Gregory lit the fire under the oven, but having lit it could not find anything to clean it with, for the brothers had hidden the cloth by way of teasing him. So he went into the oven and cleaned it out using his own clothing, and was not in the least bit harmed by the fire. But when I heard about it I rebuked the brothers for putting him to the test like that.'

Our father abbot Gregory also told us that once when brother Gregory was feeding the pigs in Phaselus two lions came after the pigs, but he picked up a stick and drove them back to the holy Jordan.

The same father told us that when he was beginning to build the Church of Saint Kyriakos in Phaselus and digging out the foundations, he had a dream about a monk of very ascetic appearance, carrying a palm, and with a meagre robe of woven rushes draped over his shoulders.

'Tell me, abba Gregory,' he said in a most gentle tone of voice, 'is it right that after so many labors, so much abstinence, you have left me out of the church you are building?'

'Far be it from me to do so,' he replied, in deference to the voice and appearance of the man.

'But that is exactly what you have done.'

'Who then are you, sir?'

'I am Peter, a solitary of the holy Jordan.'

Next morning abba Gregory hastened to dig in various places around the church until he found a body lying there identical to what he had seen in his dream. When the church was built, he put a splendid tomb on the right hand side of the church and put the body in it."