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November 29, 2022

A Wondrous Appearance of the Holy New Hieromartyr Philoumenos

By Archimandrite Photios Ioakeim

George Raounas from Lefkara, a graduate of the School of Physical Education in Greece (a gymnast), was about 25 years old when he got to know Christ and the Church more deeply, and began to live an intense spiritual life. He especially loved the practice of prayer, frequently attending Services, Vigils and Divine Liturgies and participating regularly in the Immaculate Mysteries.

He married Stella Kakouridis, daughter of the priest Konstantinos Kakouridis from Akaki, a village in our Metropolitan region, with whom he had four children, and now they strive together to experience the life in Christ in their "home church".

George often went for pilgrimage and prayer to various monasteries in Cyprus, but also to the Holy Land. The Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Orounti, where Saint Philoumenos is especially honored, was his favorite place of prayer.

As you know, since the year 2000, at the initiative of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Morphou, Neophytos, it has been established to hold a vigil in his honor at the Church of the Apostle Luke in the village of his birthplace, Orounta. Last year (2012) George was also present at the vigil, who since 2010 had been suffering from the painful disease of cancer, dealing with it with a lot of patience and faith.

In the center of the church was placed a large icon of Saint Philoumenos for veneration, as well as a fragment of his holy relic and his priestly stole, which were officially donated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Orounti, with the prospect of being placed in the church that was being built on the grounds of the Monastery. When the Praises were chanted, according to the typikon of the vigil, both the clergy and the faithful present began to venerate in order the icon and the relic of the Saint, being then anointed by the priest with oil from the lamp, which was there lit.

Then a miraculous apparition of the Saint happened. This miraculous event was claimed to be witnessed by a simple, humble and "pure in heart" believer, who was present at the vigil, as the same shocked person told it, confidentially and immediately after the end of the vigil, to Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou, who led the entire solemn service. What had happened?

When the aforementioned George went to venerate the icon of the Saint, that pious Christian saw Saint Philoumenos coming out alive from his holy icon, embracing the sick George and holding him from behind, by the shoulders, while he was prostrating and being anointed from the priest with a little oil, in order to accompany him by supporting him to his stasidion, then he disappeared and became invisible! The Metropolitan communicated this wonderful intervention of the Saint to George's father-in-law, Father Konstantinos, who also attended the vigil, as well as to some other clergy. Then this appearance of the Saint was interpreted as a sign that through his intercessions the sick George would be cured. Afterwards, however, the course of George's health worsened, literally causing him torturous pains, during which he reposed in the Lord on July 8, 2013.

The martyrdom of this man of God, but also his admirable faith, determination and patience finally interpreted the deep spiritual meaning of that wonderful presence of the hieromartyr Philoumenos. With this, the favor of the Saint, and thus of the Lord, was confirmed towards a faithful member of our Church, who took up his cross in Christ to the end, giving witness to Christ with his virtuous life, becoming a martyr of Christ.

For martyrdom is not only the shedding of one's blood for the love and faith of Christ, but also for a Christian to accept wholeheartedly, with thanksgiving and a doxological disposition, whatever test the Lord allows to pass through in this valley of tears: tribulations, sufferings, illnesses, blindness, deaths of loved ones, etc. That is, everything that mortifies him for this world, any cross, which, if he accepts it, as it is, as a visitation and gift of God for the salvation of his immortal soul, makes him a sharer of the Passion of Christ, but also of His Resurrection.

Saint Philoumenos did not heal the body of George, but he did something much greater: He strengthened him with the martyrdom of his prayers to endure until the end of this recent life the painful torment of his illness (George's tormented body had really filled with tumors, even manifested externally), taking him with him in eternity, as a fellow martyr, before the throne of God!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.