December 3, 2020

The Harsh Older Brother of Saint George Karslides

Greek chapel in Tsalka

Two years after the death of their parents, the older brother, Kyriakos, for unknown reasons, began to treat his younger siblings Anna and Athanasios [Saint George's baptismal name] very harshly. When Athanasios was only five years old, he was sent to graze his sheep, with all the danger, labor and hardship that this entailed for such a small child.

Let's just consider that the average altitude in Tsalka is 1600 meters. In fact, because of the harsh climate, Tsalka is also called the Georgian Siberia. When Athanasios was returning from grazing, it was not uncommon for his brother to beat him and send him to sleep in the stable, for no apparent reason.
His grandmother was deeply saddened by Kyriakos' brutal behavior towards Athanasios and more because Kyriakos did not pay attention to her advice and pleadings.

Athanasios, however, although young, endured the ordeal with admirable courage. At the same time, he took advantage of the silence in the wilderness of the mountains, learning to know God through each of His creations and to pray fervently. Prayer and chanting accompanied him during the long hours of grazing and sweetened his sorrow.

When Athanasios was seven years old, his fourteen year old sister having died, displaying all the signs of holiness, he ran away from home because of his brother's harsh treatment, and he went to live with some Crypto-Christians.