October 16, 2020

Translation of the Sacred Relics of Saint Kallinikos of Edessa

On 15 October 2020, in an atmosphere of joy and devotion, a Festive Hierarchical Divine Liturgy took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Protection in Edessa, to celebrate the translation of the sacred relics of the newly-canonized Saint Kallinikos of Edessa. He had been buried in the Public Cemetery of Edessa, because he wanted to be close to his people that he loved and served in his life, but now that he is canonized his sacred relics were transferred into the Cathedral of the Holy Protection, where he will be venerated by the faithful in an ecclesiastical atmosphere. The exhumation of the sacred relics took place on September 25th.

The festive celebration was officiated by nineteen hierarchs and numerous clergy and monastics, together with a crowd of the faithful despite the pandemic restrictions. Both Metropolitan Joel of Edessa and Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who knew the Saint intimately and have written about him, delivered the homilies. The service was also attended by local authorities and relatives of the newly-canonized saint.

During his brief address, Metropolitan Joel thanked Archbishop Hieronymos of Athens, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the canonization of Metropolitan Kallinikos of Edessa among the saints. In turn, Metropolitan Hierotheos thanked Metropolitan Joel for initiating the canonization process for Saint Kallinikos.

The sacred relics will remain in the Cathedral and a daily Divine Liturgy will take place there until Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits the Cathedral to officially announce the canonization.

In his sermon, Metropolitan Joel spoke about how Saint Kallinikos was an example to be imitated by all. “Today our sacred Metropolis rejoices for our local Saint, the Metropolitan of Edessa Kallinikos. He was a prophet, as he proclaimed the counsels of God, a wonderful minister, a philanthropist, an excellent shepherd with a rich ecclesiastical spirit. He was an indefatigable prelate without envy, who cultivated the virtues,” the Metropolitan emphasized. Metropolitan Joel went on to say that Saint Kallinikos proclaimed the will of God throughout his life. He carried out the Lord's command: "Do this in remembrance of me." If one goes to the churches of Edessa and asks, one will learn that he performed Divine Liturgies very often. He said: "We suffer much, there are many temptations, but fortunately there is a Divine Liturgy to give us rest." He always had the Kingdom of God before him. He kept asking for God's mercy for himself and for his flock. He excelled in both administration and priesthood: He made sure that those who became priests were pious and did not have priestly obstacles. He made sure that God's ministers were pure. In his day, twelve bishops of that time fell from their thrones, one was his own, the Metropolitan of Didymoteicho. The Saint had an ecclesiastical mind. He did not oppose the Church then. He looked towards the interests of the Church. He did not envy anyone, he was happy to see his associates and to brag about their talents. He never remembered the wrongs done against him. He never held a grudge. He was patient. He had Christophilia ("love for Christ"). Metropolitan Joel ended by saying that as his successor, he was humbled to hear of his canonization.

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos said in his sermon that Saint Kallinikos applied the virtue of trying to spend his life unnoticed and hidden throughout his life. He had a hesychastic spirit, as revealed by his life and the study of his letters. He was, according to the late Archimandrite George Kapsanis, "a hesychast of the heart, a tireless pastor and missionary," which is a combination hard to find. To emphasize the great humility of the hierarch, Metropolitan Hierotheos read excerpts from the letters of the Saint that highlighted this great virtue of his. Finally, he emphasized that during the Saint's seven months of illness, he himself ministered to him, approaching his weak body - which was still conscious - as the relic of a saint. Saint Kallinikos was a Bishop who was a successor of the Apostles both on the throne and in his way of life. He was a tireless missionary and a spiritual father, he was a saint, as his Orthodox repose showed, and a martyr and a prophet. Metropolitan Hierotheos also referred to miracles of the Saint while he was alive but also after his repose, speaking among other things about the case that as a clergyman in Agrinio, he exorcised a demon from a young man.

It is noteworthy that during the exhumation of the revered relics of Saint Kallinikos, the driver of His Eminence Metropolitan Joel of Edessa, Peter Tzotzes, who helped to extract the relics, said that the holy relics, especially the right arm, were so fragrant that when he took them out of the grave, he became dizzy by the beautiful fragrance, which became intensely noticed by all those present. Metropolitan Hierotheos interpreted the fragrance of his right arm as being due to the fact that he used this arm primarily in his celebration of the Divine Mysteries as well the great care he took in the performance of ordinations and his works of philanthropy.