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October 11, 2020

The Rediscovery of Saint Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer


This Sunday, 11 October 2020, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Oraiokastro, a municipality in Thessaloniki, the first celebration of a ninth century Saint will take place after many centuries, together with a veneration of his relics, whose memory had entirely been forgotten - Saint Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer and Metropolitan of Trebizond.

The parish priest, Fr. Nicholas Monasterides, has written the following about how this Saint was rediscovered:

History of the Acquisition of a Portion of the Sacred Relic from the Archepiscopal Sakkos of Saint Athanasios the Archbishop of Trebizond the Wonderworker and Demon-Destroyer

The priest Eustathios Grammatikopoulos was born in Trebizond in 1872. In his possession, it is unknown how, he had a silver, small, oval reliquary, with the engraved inscription "From the relic of St. Haralambos + From the Sacred Sakkos of St. Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer” (Εκ του λειψ(άνου) Αγ. Χαραλάμπους + Εκ του Ιερού Σάκου Αγ. Αθαν(ασίου) Δαιμονοκαταλύτου) around the perimeter, and in the center engraved and bulging was the figure of St. Haralambos. The reliquary contained a fragment of the relic of St. Haralambos and a folded piece of gold embroidered fabric, which, according to the inscription, belongs to St. Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer.

Fr. Eustathios probably came to Greece in 1922 with his family and initially settled in Diomidio of Xanthi. However, they quickly left and relocated to Daut Bali, today's Palaiokastro, Thessaloniki. There, Fr. Eustathios officiated in the parish Church of Saint Athanasios until his death in 1941 in the nearby refugee center, Oraiokastro.

The reliquary came into the possession of the daughter of Fr. Eustathios, Sophia Grammatikopoulou, who kept it until her death. After the death of Sophia Grammatikopoulou, the reliquary together with the relics were accidentally found in the house of the deceased by her niece, Maria Vamvakidou, in the early 1990s, which she handed over to the then pastor of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Oraiokastro, Fr. Nicholas Frangos, who kept it in the treasury of the church.

In the year 2007, under the priest Nicholas Monasterides, and with the revered blessing of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Neapolis and Stavroupolis Barnabas, a search was launched to find historical facts about Saint Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer. The only evidence found - and these are precarious - was that the Saint lived between the 9th and 10th century AD and that he was Archbishop of Trebizond, that he was a particularly ascetic and monastic father and that after his death he performed many miracles and received the title of Demon-Destroyer.

In the year 2011 we approached His Eminence the Metropolitan of Drama Paul, knowing his deep love for the Saints of our faith and especially for those of Pontus, and he undertook the sacred work, as an expert, to find information about the great Holy Father. A work which, divinely inspired, the Holy One of Drama carried out and for which we are grateful to Him, praying that St. Athanasios the Archbishop of Trebizond the Wonderworker and Demon-Destroyer to always support his Archbishopric.

Fr. Nicholas Monasterides
Head Priest of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Oraiokastro

Metropolitan Paul of Drama in his research found an icon of the Saint which has been reproduced, and discovered that his feast day is on October 11th. May churches throughout the world include him in their annual commemoration, and seek his intercessions as one who is a Wonderworker and Demon-Destroyer.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos