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Σάββατο, 31 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE APPEARED IN A BRILLIANT LIGHT TO THE PRIEST’S WIFE





SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE APPEARED IN A BRILLIANT LIGHT
TO THE PRIEST’S WIFE


ST. ANDREW THE APOSTLE

            We all know the rather recent history of the Island of Cyprus when the Turkish army invaded and occupied one third of the Island of Cyprus in 1974.  The following miraculous story happened in that part of Cyprus that has been occupied by the Turkish military for the last forty-two years.  This other worldly vision happened at the ancient Monastery of St. Andrew the Apostle which is located in that part of the island that extends like a tongue toward the East.  It is that part of Cyprus that is called Acrotiri (Άκρωτήρι).  It was here that St. Helen, the mother of St. Constantine the Great, visited in the fourth century and built the Monastery of St. Andrew the Apostle.   

            We have a story that we must remember, a story that was related to us by Fr. Gerasimus Fokas.  I must end my poor words here, my dear friends, and take you to Cyprus and tell you  about a miraculous event that took place there. The Orthodox Christian faithful of Cyprus have great love for St. Andrew the Apostle.  This is why there is not one home on that island that does not have the names Andrew or Androula (Άνδρούλα) for their children.  And it is exactly on this Άκρωτήρι where one will find the Monastery of St. Andrew.  This is the place where St. Helen built the Monastery returning from her trip to the Holy Land in 325 AD.  St. Helen stopped in Cyprus on her way back to Constantinople.  This is when she built this Monastery. 

            When the Turkish Army occupied the northern one third of the island, thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians lived there.   The area where the Monastery is located this very day is known as Carpasia (Καρπασία).  Following the occupation of this part of the island, the Turkish military pursued their usual tactics of ethnic cleansing as they did in Constantinople.  Constantinople had as many as 500,000 Christians when the city fell to the Ottoman Turks. Today there are about 2000 that live in this beautiful city. The same thing happened to the Island of Imvros Ίμβρος).  When the Turks took over this island there were 10,000 Greek Orthodox Christians, today there are only 1,000.

             There were many thousands of Orthodox Christians that initially lived in this part of Cyprus.  Through Turkish harassment and extortion many of the Christians left Καρπασία and fled to the free southern part of Cyprus.  What remained near the Monastery where about 800 Christians.  Amongst those remaining where some priests and teachers.  There were about four priests that remained there to serve the spiritual needs of the people.  Unfortunately the Turks continued their afflictions against the Christian population.  These afflictions were burning, jailing, and creating an atmosphere of fear for the Christians.  Of the four priests that were living in this area, one was martyred, two died and one remained to serve the needs of the people and the Monastery.  The name of this priest was Fr. Zachariah. 

            Fr. Zachariah was a married priest who had four children.  The Turks in the meantime, as the Christian families were leaving for the free part of Cyprus, were closing the schools for the lack of students.  Well, when the children of the priest reached the age to attend elementary school, there were no schools for them to attend.  This situation created disharmony in the priest’s family.  The priest’s wife began saying to her husband: “Can’t you see what is happening Fr. Zacharias. The Turks are not about to leave this area any time soon.  The schools have closed, our village has been deserted.  All the people have left and what is going to happen with our children?” 

            The poor priest was trying to convince his wife that being a priest means self-denial and responsibility to his spiritual children.  But she, on the other hand, as a mother, was concerned that the future of her children was being destroyed.  She then sent her children off to the free part of Cyprus, Lefkosia (Λευκωσία) (the capital of Cyprus).  Even after the children were sent to the free part of Cyprus, the priest’s wife kept complaining to her husband saying: “We also should now leave.”

            One night, the priest’s wife said to him:  “Maybe we could do something else, I will leave to go and be with the children and you can stay here with St. Andrew and the Turks.”  In fact, after saying this, she started ironing her cloths in order to pack her suitcases in preparation to leave.   

            And, my dear brothers and sisters, at this time in the 20th century, she revealed all these things to me, when the border between occupied Northern Cyprus and free Southern Cyprus had been opened.  This is when the Metropolitan of Morphou (ό Μητροπολίτης Μόρφου) visited the Monastery of St. Andrew.   The priest’s wife told the Metropolitan what then happened to her.  She said that in all this turmoil the Apostle Andrew appeared to her in a brilliant light and said to her:  “Papadia, (Παπαδιά, which means priest’s wife in Greek) you may go and be with your children but I beg you to allow your husband to remain here in order to tend to my Church.  I say this because if Fr. Zacharias leaves the Turks will turn my Church into a stable, a mosque, or a warehouse, just the way they have done with many other Churches.”  Listen to me, my friends, to something else the Apostle said to me. When the Metropolitan of Morphou heard this story he was astounded and I was also astounded hearing it.  The Saint also said: “I will send your priest to you in Λευκωσία.  I know about these things because I too was married and had a family.  Please allow the priest to stay here to perform his priestly duties.”

            My dear friends, the Saints are so understanding and so human; they are very close to us.  In fact, the Saint also said that after a few more years, the border crossing between North and South will be opened and so many people will be making pilgrimages to St. Andrew that there will not be enough candles for the pilgrims to light.  In truth, my dear friends, five years after the Saint revealed himself to the priest’s wife the borders were opened.  And because St. Andrew is so beloved of the people of Cyprus, there is a constant stream of people who come to ask the Saint to intercede with Jesus to free their country and their hearts.   

            There is a postscript to this wonderful encounter between heaven and earth.  This postscript says: It is important for us to note that Fr. Gerasimos himself went to meet the priest’s wife and Fr. Zachariah.

Translated from the Greek by:
+Fr. Costas J. Simones, December 28, 2016, Waterford, CT, USA
          

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