May 25, 2021

The Providence of God in the Life of Saint Anthimos the Arethiotis (+ 1870)

St. Anthimos the Arethiotis (Feast Day - May 25)

Hieromonk Anthimos Vrettos was born around 1775 in Ithaca and at a young age he entered the historic Monastery of Aretha (or Retha) in the Province of Valtos, where at that time his compatriot Hieromonk Seraphim was abbot.

With the beginning of the Greek Revolution and the blessing of his Abbot, he followed the Greek troops where he attended to the needs of the soldiers, and was honored for his contribution with the "Silver Medal".

Returning to the Monastery, he succeeded Seraphim as Abbot, but in 1833, when the Bavarians abolished many Orthodox Monasteries, Anthimos, "poor and destitute and not having a place to lay his head", left and now lived as a parish priest in Lagkada Valtos.

In 1840, at the urging and request of the people of Valtos, he returned to the Monastery "since it was completely deserted".

He worked hard in order to renovate it, without neglecting his personal monastic struggle for "perfection according to God".

With letters to the City Hall and the Metropolis of Aetolia and Acarnania, he asked for all kinds of help, until after a few years the Monastery of the Panagia began to function again with the superhuman sacrifices of Anthimos.

Anthimos served as Abbot of the Monastery of Aretha till the end of his life. It is said the Panagia appeared to him, conversed with him, and helped in his guidance of the Monastery.

He died in 1870 and became famous as a saint, according to local stories from admirers about amazing events from his life.

On 7 September 1963, his relics were unofficially translated, having been placed behind the niche of the church and according to the testimonies of those present, they were fragrant, indicating the holiness of his life.

On May 25, 2013, in the presence of the Chancellor Epiphanios and a large number of believers, the relics were placed at the Chapel of All Saints.

Examples of the Providence of God in the Life of the Saint

Elder Anthimos was very sociable and always wanted to benefit those with whom he conversed with his paternal words. So he would leave the Monastery and go to Agia Triada, in Xagnanto, for his usual mission to the simple inhabitants of the villages around the Monastery. When it was summer and the sun was shining, the poor monk did not have a hat on his head to protect himself. But God took care of that. Everyone saw above his head a large eagle, which overshadowed his face and they did their cross saying: "This is a Saint!"

In the gardens of the Monastery, the Elder worked hard for the goods necessary for the Monastery, as well as for hospitality and alms. Once, on the farm down in Menidi, which was full of pears, figs and vines, some people came secretly at night, cut some fruits and left. The Saint made it a matter of prayer, because the providence of God had required him to have a great harvest from this estate. One night the thieves, after filling their bags with fruit, prepared to leave, but the fence was so high that it was impossible to overcome it. The Elder's prayer paradoxically elevated it so that the culprits would be revealed and the theft would stop. The next morning the Elder approached them lovingly and said:

"Why reap where you do not sow? Do you not know that divine justice will reveal your deeds?"

Then he gave them all the loot and let them go, after they had learned their lesson. Since then they stopped harming the Elder with their thefts and everyone admired the holiness of the man and the power of his prayer.