27 August - St. Phanourios
- The Holy and Glorious Great Martyr Phanourios
Whose Memory the Holy Church celebrates on August 27th
"Phanourios bestoweth light upon all the faithful,
Even though he long lay in the darkness of the earth."
From whence Phanourios, the splendid athlete of the Lord and invincible
martyr, came, and of what parentage he was, and even in what age he
lived and under the reign of which emperors he waged his struggle and
fought his fight, we have been unable to ascertain, for the account of
his life has been lost owing to the vicissitudes of time, as many other
things also have been lost or become obscure or unclear. This only do we
know, that when the Hagarenes* ruled the renowned island of Rhodes,
having conquered it because of our sins, he that became ruler of the
island wished to rebuild the ramparts of the city that past sieges had
ravaged. On the outskirts of the fortress were several ruined dwellings
that had been abandoned by reason of their association with the old
fortress, which was located a furlong to the south. From these ruins the
Hagarenes were wont to gather stones for their construction.
It so happened that, while excavating and reinforcing that place,
they discovered a most beautiful church, which was partly buried in
ruins. Excavating as far as the floor of the temple, they found many
holy icons, all decayed and crumbling, yet the icon of the holy
Phanourios was whole and entire; indeed, it seemed as though it had been
painted but that very day. And when this all-venerable temple was
uncovered, together with its sacred icons, the hierarch of that place,
Neilos by name, a man of great sanctity and learning, came and read the
inscription of the icon, which said, "The Holy Phanourios."
The saint was depicted upon the icon as follows: He was shown as a
young man, arrayed as a soldier, holding a cross in his right hand, and
at the upper part of the cross there was a lighted taper. Round about
the perimeter of the icon were twelve scenes from the holy one's
martyrdom, which showed the saint being examined before the magistrate;
then in the midst of soldiers, who were beating him about the mouth and
head with stones; then stretched out upon the ground while the soldiers
flogged him; then, stripped naked while they rent his flesh with iron
hooks; then incarcerated in a dungeon; and again standing before the
tyrant's tribunal; then being burned with candles; then bound to a rack;
then cast amidst wild beasts; then crushed with a great rock; then
standing before idols holding burning coals in his hands, whilst a demon
nearby wept and lamented; and finally he is shown standing erect in the
midst of a fiery furnace, his hands, as it were, uplifted towards Heaven.
From these twelve scenes depicted upon the icon, the holy hierarch
perceived that the saint was a martyr. Then straightway that good and
pious man sent deputations to the rulers of that place, asking that they
consign to him that temple for restoration, but this they declined to
do. Therefore, the hierarch traveled to Constantinople alone and there
obtained a decree empowering him to rebuild the church; thus it was
restored to that state in which it can be seen even to this day, outside
the city. And is has become the source of many miracles, of which I
shall relate one for the profit of many, that all who love and venerate
the saint may rejoice.
At that time the isle of Crete had no Orthodox hierarch, but a
Latin bishop, for it was ruled then by the Venetians, who had shrewdly
refused to permit an Orthodox hierarch to be consecrated whenever one
died. This they did with evil intent, thinking that with time they could
thus convert the Orthodox to the papist dogmas. If Orthodox men wished
to obtain ordination, they had to go to Kythera. It came to pass that
there went forth from Crete three deacons, traveling to Kythera to be
ordained priests by the hierarch there; and when this had been
accomplished, and they were returning to their own country, the
Hagarenes captured them at sea and brought them to Rhodes, where they
were sold as slaves to other Hagarenes. The newly-consecrated priests
lamented their misfortune day and night.
But in Rhodes, they heard tell of the great wonders wrought by the
Greatmartyr Phanourios, and straightway they made fervent supplication
to the saint, beseeching him with tears to deliver them from their
bitter bondage. And this they did each separately, without knowing ought
of what the others were doing, for they had each been sold to a
different master. Now, in accordance with the providence of God,
however, they were all three permitted by their masters to go and
worship at the temple of the saint, and, guided by God, they came all
together and fell down before the sacred icon of the saint, watering the
ground with the streams of their tears, entreating him to deliver them
out of the hands of the Hagarenes. Then they departed, somewhat
consoled, each to his own master, hoping that they would obtain mercy,
which in fact did come to pass; for the holy one had compassion upon
their tears and hearkened unto their supplication. That night he
appeared to the Hagarenes who were the masters of the captive priests,
and commanded them to permit the servants of God to go and worship in
his temple lest he bring dreadful destruction upon them. But the
Hagarenes, thinking the matter sorcery, loaded them with chains and made
their torments more onerous.
Then the Greatmartyr Phanourios went to them that night and brought them
forth from their bonds, and encouraged them, saying that the following
day he would, by all means, free them. He then appeared to the Hagarenes
and, reproaching them with severity, said: "If by tomorrow ye have not
set your servants at liberty, ye shall behold the power of God!" Thus
saying, the holy one vanished. And, O, the wonder! As many as inhabited
those houses all arose blind and paralyzed, tormented with the most
dreadful pangs, the least with the greatest. But, though bedridden, with
the help of their kinfolk they considered what to do, and finally
decided to send for the captives. And when the three wretched priests
were come, they inquired of them if they were able to heal them; and
they answered, "We shall beseech God. Let His will be done."
But the saint appeared again to the Hagarenes on the third night
and said to them: "If ye do not send to my house letters of manumission
for the priests, ye shall have neither the health, nor the light [of
sight] which ye desire." And when they had again conferred with their
kinfolk and friends, each one composed a letter of emancipation for his
own slave, which were left before the icon of the saint. And O, the
wonder! Even before the messengers sent to the temple returned, those,
who before were blind and paralyzed, were healed; and marveling they set
the priests free and dispatched them to their homelands amicably. The
priests, though, had a copy of the icon of St. Phanourios painted and
took it with them to their own country, and each year the memory of the
holy one is piously celebrated amongst them. By the prayers of the
martyr may Christ God have mercy upon us. Amen! *Hagarene, an Old
Testament word referring to a people who were enemies of Israel residing
in the land on the east of the Jordan. (The decedents of Hagar?) Used
by the Greeks to refer to the Turks. Hagarene also refers to all
Muslims. Many non-Muslim scholars believe the Koran is nothing more than
a jumbled collection of ancient Hagarene texts, put together by Muhammad
and his followers.
Troparion, Tone 4
A heavenly song of praise is chanted radiantly upon the earth; the
company of angels now joyfully celebrateth an earthly festival, and from
on high with hymns they praise thy contests, and from below the Church
doth proclaim the heavenly glory which thou hast found by thy labors and
struggles, O glorious Phanourios.
Kontakion, Tone 3
Thou didst save the priests from an ungodly captivity, and didst break
their bonds by divine power, O godly-minded one; thou didst bravely
shame the audacity of the tyrants, and didst gladden the orders of the
angels, great martyr. Wherefore, we honor thee, O divine warrior, most
Source: Orthodox Life, Vol. 32, No. 4 (July-August 1982) Translated by
George Lardas from the Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church (in
Greek), 4th Ed. (Athens, 1974), Vol. VIII, pp. 470-474.
About Prayers to the Saint and for His Mother:
On Aug 27th, according to the Greek Synaxarion, we remember the Holy
Martyr Phanourios. He appeared to people on the island of Rhodes in
1500. Several people had a vision of the saint and then his icon was
discovered. The icon depicted a young soldier holding a sword in one
hand and a lit candle in the other.
There is a tradition concerning him and his mother, who was a harlot and
great sinner. His love for his mother caused him to pray for her
incessantly. At the time of his martyric death by stoning, he could not
even then forget his mother, and with the boldness that is peculiar to
athletes of Christ, prayed: "For the sake of these my sufferings, Lord,
help all those who will pray to Thee for the salvation of Phanourios'
sinful mother". (Here his intercession has been great for the
"heterodox" relatives and friends of those Orthodox Christians who pray
for the soul of his mother.... St. Phanourios in turn prays for the
salvation and enlightenment of the heterodox relatives and friends.)
Many to this day pray for his mother, and have her listed in their
personal diptychs used for commemorations in the Divine Liturgy as "The
Mother of St Phanourios" since her name is not known.
On the day of the Saint, there is a tradition that the faithful bake a
special bread, and according to some accounts, give it to the poor as
alms in the name of his mother, and others, share it with at least seven
St Phanourios' name gives a hint about another tradition concerning the
Saint. "Phanourios" comes from the Greek word, «φανερώνω» "phanerono",
meaning "I reveal". He is know to help people find lost things. Some
have therefore also referred to him as "Saint lost and found"!
This is not just an idle story repeated without basis, as the editor of
this piece has experienced incidents himself, and know many people who
have also been helped by St Phanourios to find lost items. After the
lost item is found, one should bake a Phanouropita, (basically a loaf of
sweet bread) in memory of St. Phanourios' mother, and give to the poor,
If the bread is first brought to church to be blessed, A Litya blessing
service with a prayer specially composed for the Saint may be used.
Φανουρόπιτα - Phanouropita
St. Phanourios' Bread
The following recipes are supplied by the kindness of Presvytera Anna
Lardas, who posted them to a mailing list some time ago.
The fasting bread (with oil for those days that are a little less
strict) actually tastes very good, and whose preparation makes an
excellent father-daughter "special time" that the whole family benefits
from. In other words, the recipe is quite easy and forgiving, and
kitchens can always be cleaned.
St. Phanourios Bread Fasting
Preheat oven to 350.
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups flour
Mix oil and sugar, and beat until it's a creamy yellow. This may take a
Put the baking soda IN the orange juice, and stir until dissolved. [NB:
this can be spectacularly dramatic if you use a two cup measuring cup
with two cups of o.j. in it. (Please don't ask how I found out.) It
might be easier to hold a two cup measuring cup OVER the bowl full of
oil and sugar and pour in *one* cup of o.j., mix in ½ tsp. baking soda,
watch the fireworks, pour it into the bowl, and again mix *one* cup of
o.j. with ½ tsp. baking soda, stir and pour again. If you don't dissolve
the baking soda completely, you get lumps of it in the cake. So, stir well.]
Add the flour, then the raisins and nuts.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 9"x13" pan and bake at 350 degrees F.
for 45 minutes (or until a clean toothpick dipped in the cake emerges
If you wanted to put spices in the batter, I'd go with a tiny amount
(1/4 tsp. or less) of ground cloves.
Modified from a recipe in Greek Traditions and Customs in America, by
St. Phanourios Bread II
Not even close to fasting!
This recipe originally came from a cookbook for a Greek parish in
Chicago, but I've tampered with it, mostly by editorializing.
Doubles well; the recipe given is for one loaf pan worth, but Doubled it
makes a bundt pan's worth.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine:
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brandy
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups golden raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for exactly ten minutes -- any
longer, and you'll have a good caramelized smelling door stop instead of
Set pot in cold water to cool mixture completely.
Sift into cooled syrup:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Beat vigorously for eight to ten minutes (Takes muscles! We use a wooden
spoon for this) or until batter is smooth and bubbly.
Stir in: 2 Tablespoons grated orange peel
Turn into well greased 7" fluted pan or 8" loaf pan.
Sprinkle with ½ sesame seeds (optional; skip if you like).
Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until a knife inserted in the center comes out
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brandy and cool cake in pan.
Bring to church to have blessed, and then share with parishioners or the
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