May 6, 2020

The Tragedies That Led Saint Sophia of Kleisoura To Pursue a Life of Solitude and Asceticism

When Saint Sophia of Kleisoura (1883-1974) was a young woman in Pontus, she did not want to get married, and managed to remain unmarried until she was twenty-four years old, which was a long time back then. Pressured by her relatives, however, she married Jordan Hortokoridou in 1907. Three years later, in 1910, Jordan and Sophia gave birth to their first and only child, a son.

Things went well for another two years, until a great tragedy came upon Jordan and Sophia. One day the couple went out to work in the field, and they brought their young son with them along with their pigs. They placed the child in a make-shift swinging crib while they plowed the field. Meanwhile the hungry pigs, as the parents were working and not paying attention, caught eye of the baby boy and devoured him.

Unfortunately, such incidents were common in rural communities of the time. Household pigs, when they got hungry, would attack little children as easy prey, often biting off their ears, their hands or even killing them altogether.

In their distress, two years later, in 1914, Sophia received the news that her husband was suddenly taken forcefully by the Turks and was rumored to work in a labor camp in an unknown location. Sophia never heard of the whereabouts or fate of her husband ever again.

With the tragic loss of her son and her husband, Sophia decided to completely dedicate her life to God and live as an ascetic. She fled for the mountains and lived a strict ascetic life in solitude and severe fasting. It was during this time that Saint George appeared to her, warning her of the Turkish soldiers that were coming, and this allowed her to notify her fellow villagers to flee the coming persecution, thus saving her village. She along with her fellow villagers finally arrived in Greece in 1919 as refugees.