Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Hunchback of Cyprus and Saint John the Russian

 

As you enter the Church of Saint John the Russian you will see hanging before the shrine of the Saint, like a spoil of victory, a simple and poor gift: a walking stick. It belongs to Maria Siaka, an old lady from the village of Frenaro near Ammochostos in Cyprus.

For eighteen years she had been a hunchback and bent so forward that her face was but a short distance from the ground. On the 11th of August 1978 relatives of the old lady, together with about a hundred Cypriots, brought her to the Church of Saint John. They lifted her up to enable her to venerate the Saint’s holy and incorrupt body. Looking at the sacred relic the old lady wept and beseeched Saint John to grant her a little divine help for the remainder of her life. Saint John saw the grandeur of her soul, her grief and also her deep faith. Not long after, before the eyes of everyone there, it seemed that an invisible arm seized her shoulders with tremendous power and slowly began to unfold her body. Her spine creaked and cracked and returned to its original form - the old hunchback stood upright!

Her fellow villagers wept, the bells of the church rang, prayers of thanksgiving were offered by all the Cypriots who could not hold back their tears. Anyone who has had the fortune to be present when a miracle occurs can understand these lines.

Finally, the voice of the old lady was heard: “What can I give you my young man, my Saint? I am poor, I will give you my walking stick which I will not be needing for the rest of my life."

The daily papers of Nicosia reported: “Maria Siaka, after her pilgrimage to the Church of Saint John the Russian in Greece, can now, after nearly twenty years of being a hunchback and able to only see the ground, saw the faces of her fellow villagers. Thanks to the miracle of the Saint she is restored and completely well.”


On August 24, 1978 Maria Siaka offered her own written testimony of what happened to the newspaper ΠΑΝΕΥΒΟΪΚΟ ΒΗΜΑ:

My name is Marikou Panagi Siaka, I come from Frenaro, Ammochostos,  and am 73 years old. I have been suffering from a curvature of the spine for about 15 years. The doctors had despaired of me. I decided to visit with other Cypriots the Holy and Miraculous Saint John the Russian. I had become like the letter "U" from the disease. With many tears I venerated and begged the Saint to heal me. I also wore the Saint's belt. Going down the stairs I felt a cold sweat cover my body. A tremor and like an invisible hand put something like a plank on my body, like a pillar. I got up immediately. And I told my husband I was fine. That I have nothing! I immediately threw the walking stick, which I had not parted with for 15 whole years. I praise God and Saint John for the great miracle he performed.

MARIA P. SIAKA
Frenaros - Ammochostos Cyprus 
 
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.



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