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Contemporary Saints of the GOC: The New Glorification of Hieromonk Hieronymos of Parnithi!


 

The Life of Saint Hieronymos the Hagiorite of Crete


Who was Elder Hieronymos? He was born in Crete, in the village of Vlatos (district of Kisamos, county of Chania), in 1867, to pious parents, and was nurtured by the waters of faith and godliness. At an early age, a yearning for the things of God, which inflamed his pure and God-loving heart, impelled him to forsake the world and flee to the Holy Mountain, where he lived the cœnobitic life at the Holy Monastery of St. Paul and applied himself with great zeal to the spiritual struggles of the Angelic way of life. Within a short time, in return for his good obedience and total dedication to the fulfillment of the Divine commandments, he was adorned with virtues and spiritual gifts. At a suitable age, he was Ordained Deacon and Presbyter. He correspondingly increased his labors of abstinence, fasting, and prayer, vigil and hardship, and also his humility and love for God and for all man- kind. He ate very little and Liturgized daily.

Seeing his Godly zeal and spiritual progress, the Abbot of the monastery gave him a blessing to live as a hesychast in the monasteryʼs Holy Trinity hermitage (asketerion) and to come down to the monastery only when it was necessary for him to serve Liturgy. There, his devotion to the work of watchfulness made him worthy of richer spiritual gifts, and, in particular, of clairvoyance and foresight, which were, indeed, displayed subsequently when Our Lady the Theotokos appeared to him. After a considerable period of time had elapsed, he lived as a cœnobite, briefly, at the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra, ending up at the Skete of St. Panteleimon, a dependency of the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou. Fathers from the entire Holy Mountain thronged there for spiritual guidance and counsel, especially concerning noetic prayer and dispassion. In 1920, the Elder was sent by the governing body of the Holy Mountain to Crete, the island of his birth, together with the Precious Gifts of the Magi, which are preserved in the Monastery of St. Paul, in order to deal with a pestilential disease. On his return journey, he passed through Athens, where he confessed a great multitude of the Faithful.


For some years, however, he had suffered from a serious ophthalmological problem, which forced him, after losing his sight, to return once again to Athens, where he remained until the end of his earthly life, after nearly thirty- five years of asceticism in the Garden of the Panagia. It was characteristic of him, that when he regained his vision—albeit imperfectly—after treatment, he endeavored to return to the Holy Mountain. But every time he would set out, he almost lost his sight, and thus, against his will, he returned to Athens! This occurred on the eve of the calendar innovation of 1924, and, as it seems, Divine Providence had its plans….


When the innovation was finally enforced, Elder Hieronymos steadfastly opposed it and dedicated himself to the spiritual support and encouragement of the persecuted flock of the pious Old Calendarists, devotees of our Orthodox Faith and Tradition, as a God-sent prophet and comforter, especially by means of confession and spiritual direction. At the outset, in Ampelokepoi and later on in Old Phaleron [districts of Athens—Trans.], he received innumerable crowds of the Faithful and guided them to a knowledge of God through repentance and confession of the right Faith.

In 1930, together with his spiritual daughter, Andromache Heliopoulou— later Nun and Abbess Christonymphe—, and other dedicated souls, he began to construct the Convent of the Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeve in Acharnai, Attika, on the southeastern foothills of Mount Parnes. In this spiritual apiary of true Orthodoxy, the Elder now passed the remaining years of his life, both receiving and imparting enlightenment. At times he was deemed worthy of seeing St. Paraskeve in the western garden of the convent, where today there is a shrine in his honor. Both when the Elder was alive and after his repose, the convent regularly received the blessing of visits by the Confessor - Hierarch Metropolitan [St.] Chrysostomos (formerly) of Florina († 1955), who found much respite there.


Elder Hieronymos was by nature sensitive and poetic, and he left behind pamphlets and manuscripts in which he gave expression in graceful verses to his suffering and to the love for our adorable Lord which overflowed his being, and also to his concern for the guidance of souls who sought his spiritual aid. However, like all the righteous, it fell to his lot to be tested by afflictions, sorrows, slanders, and persecutions. In particular, when the innovators tried to arrest him, in order to send him away to the Holy Mountain and put an end to his God-pleasing work as a confessor, Divine protection and assistance always safeguarded and preserved him in miraculous ways, while he himself, as an model of patience and forbearance, prayed for his persecutors, replete as he was with evangelical love.


At the start of 1943, having a premonition of his departure from this vain world, he summoned Archimandrite Chrysostomos (Naslimis) to Liturgize at the convent and commune him with the Immaculate Mysteries. Thus, prepared for the great final journey, he commended his holy soul to his Maker, Whom he loved and served so fervently and faithfully. May his prayers uphold and strengthen us! [1]


The Glorification of Elder Hieronymos


In a resurrectional atmosphere, the Official Ceremony of the Canonization of Saint Hieronymus of Parnes was held by the Holy Synod of our Church, at the Holy Monastery of Saint Paraskevi in Acharnes, Attica, on Saturday, 26th May/8th June 2024. In the evening, the Great Hierarchical Vespers were chanted, presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Attica and Boeotia, with the participation of Their Eminences Metropolitans Kyprianos of Oropos and Phyle, Gerontios of Piraeus and Salamis, Photios of Dimitriados, and Ambrosios of Methoni, as well as Their Graces Bishops Seraphim of Sozopolis (of the sister Church of Bulgaria), Kallinikos of Talantion, and Benedict of Astoria from the GOC Metropolis of America. Before the dismissal, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos delivered a festal sermon.

On the day itself, the Matins were presided over by His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece, who subsequently led the multi-hierarchical concelebration, with the participation of the local His Eminence Metropolitan Kyprianos of Oropos and Phyle, Their Eminences Metropolitans Gerontios of Piraeus and Salamis, Chrysostomos of Attica and Boeotia, Ambrosios of Methoni, as well as Their Graces Bishops Seraphim of Sozopolis (of the sister Church of Bulgaria), Kallinikos of Talantion, and Benedict of Astoria.


At the Communion hymn, His Grace Bishop Kallinikos delivered the day's festive address, referring to the historical establishment of the feasts of the Martyrs and Saints, the criteria for sainthood, and finally the personality of Saint Hieronymus. After the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Ceremony of Proclamation for the new Saint of our Church took place. After the Act of Canonization was read by His Eminence the Chief Secretary Metropolitan Demetrias Mr. Photios, subsequently before the Holy Relic of the Saint and the adorned Icon of him, with the chanting of the Apolytikion and verses of the Doxology, His Beatitude along with the Holy Hierarchs successively signed the Act and His Beatitude blessed the faithful people crosswise with the Holy Relic, who had gathered despite the great heat that prevailed. In conclusion, the Sacred Procession (or Sacred Litany) of the miraculous relics and the Icon of our Holy Father among the Saints, Hieronymus, took place around the Monastery, followed by the Dismissal (Apolytikion). Finally, the hospitable Sisterhood under Abbess Justine the Nun offered a meal to the clergy and the people.


Homily of His Eminence Bishop Kallinikos of Talantion at the Synodal Divine Liturgy for the Canonization of the Holy Hieronymus at the Holy Monastery of Saint Paraskevi, Acharnes, Attica, on Saturday, May 26 / June 8, 2024. [2]


Most Blessed Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Your Eminence Kallinikos, Most Reverend Shepherd of the God-saving Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, His Eminence Cyprian, Most Reverend Hierarchs, Honorable Presbytery, Venerable Diaconate, Holy Monastics, Blessed People of God,


The honor of the Saints in the long journey of our Church has always been a joyful and blessed event. The Church observed the honor and glory with which the devout people of God, the friends of God, the Saints, surrounded them. This honor and recognition of the Saints began with the veneration of the Martyrs of the early Christian centuries, as recorded in the Martyrologies of that era. From the moment when a Martyr, man or woman, sacrificed themselves for the love of Christ, from that moment they received recognition and the honor of being recorded in the Diptychs of the Saints.

Orthodox Theology shaped a distinct segment of its historical branch known as Hagiography. The Science of Hagiography initially dealt with the Martyrdoms or Passions, which were authentic descriptions of the Saints' martyrdoms by eyewitness and earwitness martyrs, along with official protocols or court proceedings of the Martyrs (acta proconsularia) recorded by Roman authorities, as well as brief reports that were concise references to martyrs included in broader historical works. These constituted during the early Christian centuries the sources of Hagiographic Science.


Continuing on, there began to be added to the Church's Martyrologies and supplemented in its Hagiography with Prophets and holy personalities of the Bible, Hierarchs, Saints and Ascetics, Confessors and Righteous, Equal-to-the-Apostles and New Martyrs, who began to adorn the Hagiography. The elevation and proclamation of the Sanctity of Martyrs and Saints reveal the greatness of the friends of God, all those who with their blood, their virtue, and their Orthodox teaching, established, honored, and glorified the Church of Christ. Specifically mentioned in the Acts of the Local Council in Constantinople in the year 1672, it states: "But we venerate the Saints, as having struggled for Christ and offer them as mediators to God, as friends of God, having boldness towards Him, and through them we earnestly seek help from God."


As blessed Professor Paschos characteristically states, "Our Church constructs Holy Temples for the Saints and sanctifies them with their holy relics, establishes the honorable veneration of their Icons and Relics, institutes feasts to commemorate their memory, approves the composition of sacred hymns for their celebrations, recommends to the faithful to chant Supplications seeking their intercession before God for deliverance from various tribulations, forgiveness of their sins, and ultimately to obtain 'great mercy' from the Lord Almighty."


And indeed, the culmination of the honor of the Saints is evident through the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on their feast days. From the early Christian centuries, Christians believed that the soul of the Martyr is present during the Divine Liturgy, in the spiritual gathering at the common table. Moreover, this faith in the ontological presence of the Saints in the Mystery of the Divine Liturgy is demonstrated also by the later establishment of the liturgical practice of distributing portions (antidoron) in honor and memory of the Saints during the Service of the Prothesis, as first articulated in the 14th century by Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos of Constantinople.


In the long journey of Church history, certain significant criteria began to be formulated to preserve the unity of the ecclesiastical body and maintain credibility in the proclamation and recognition of new Saints. The fundamental criteria of holiness are:


α) Incorporation into the Orthodox Church either through holy Baptism or through the baptism of blood, martyrdom.

β) Orthodox faith.

γ) Holy and virtuous life.

δ) Exceptional services and contributions to the Christian faith.

ε) Performance of miracles.


One of the absolute and indisputable criteria is Orthodox Faith [Right Doctrine], which is certainly accompanied by correct and virtuous deeds. This Orthodox Faith is characterized by the genuine apostolic teaching and tradition that has been transmitted through apostolic succession down to the present day. This sound Orthodox teaching requires great struggles for the confession of faith, the practice of virtues, the mystical experience of divine love, selfless love and offering to fellow humans, and it has an eschatological dimension towards the Heavenly Kingdom of the Triune God.


The Orthodox Church, differing from Western practice, does not "canonize" or create saints through specific ecclesiastical procedures, but rather proclaims and confirms the holiness of those to whom God has granted the grace and gift of sanctity. In this context, the terms "recognition," "proclamation," or even better, "acknowledgment" are used, through Synodical decision and the solemn Rite of Canonization into the Orthodox Synaxarion.


Based on these criteria, the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece affirmed the honor of a new Saint, Saint Hieronymus of Mount Parnitha, who is both the founder and protector of the venerable Holy Monastery there. Personally, as a younger Hierarch, I recall from my childhood the respect and reverence of our genuine Orthodox forefathers towards the person of the Holy Elder Hieronymus, as well as towards this blessed Monastery.


Saint Hieronymus, born in 1867, was a descendant of blessed and valiant Crete. He received his comprehensive education at the Holy Monastery of Chrysopigi in Chania. In 1891, at the age of twenty-four, inflamed by divine love, he consecrated himself to Christ by journeying to Mount Athos, specifically to the Holy Monastery of Saint Paul, where he became a monk and later, in 1897, was ordained a deacon and priest.


Saint Hieronymus experienced a profound encounter with the Virgin Mary. During a severe winter storm, he found himself snowbound at the Kathisma of the Panagia, deprived of necessities for survival. It was there that he was granted a visitation by the Guardian of Mount Athos, the Most Holy Theotokos, who physically and spiritually supported him and comforted him with encouraging words. In 1923, a serious eye illness compelled him to leave Mount Athos and seek treatment in Athens. As a Cretan, he revered Saint Paraskevi, and this devotion grew continually during his illness, prompting him to establish a monastery dedicated to her. He was even privileged to see Saint Paraskevi within the monastery's western enclosure, where today there is a shrine in her honor.


Over a span of twenty years, he excelled as a Confessor of the Faith, an Enlightened and prophetic Spiritual guide, a Great Teacher of spiritual life in Christ, a genuine continuator of the Hesychast Monastic Tradition, a healer of souls and bodies by the grace of God. Concurrently, he cultivated his poetic, hymnographic, and teaching talents, leaving behind countless pages of metrical discourse as a spiritual legacy. Particularly, he struggled to strengthen and serve the small Flock of Genuine Orthodox Christians, vehemently opposing the calendar innovation of 1924. This dedication of the Elder to ancestral piety was the cause of numerous attempts of slander, assassination, and slander against him. He fell asleep in the Lord on January 15, 1943, and was buried here in the Monastery.

Especially today, in the year 2024, marking a hundred years since the calendar innovation, our Church of Genuine Orthodox Christians stands here, free and alive, continuing the work of Saint Hieronymus, its pastoral, missionary, and salvific mission in defiance of the Pan-heresy of Ecumenism and all those who believed or believe that our Holy Struggle is diminishing and leading to decline. Characteristically, the Saint wrote: "We will never abandon the faith of our Fathers, the marvelous Saints; we will never accept additions or subtractions, let it be known to all. All things are well established by the Saints, they taught and maintained them excellently. For he who dares to reform the holy things, he suffers a severe illness, that is, irreverence; for he loves and accepts the irreverent." Thus, the divine intervention of the strugglers of piety, the "unbroken fullness," continues and will continue because the Triune God desires it and blesses it. Despite all this, our Church is here and always awaits with love and truth to embrace into her bosom every person who seeks and desires their salvation.


Therefore, today the new Saint Hieronymus comes to be added to the choir of newly revealed Saints of our Church. Today, the Synaxis of the newly revealed Saints welcomes our new Saint, Saint Chrysostom the New Confessor, along with Saint Hieronymus of Aegina, Saint Neomartyr Catherine of Mandraki, Saint Neomartyr Joseph from Desfina, Saint John the New Merciful of Amphialo, and also Saint John Archbishop of Shanghai Maximovitch, Saint Philaret Archbishop of New York the Confessor, and Saint Glicherie Archbishop of Romania.


The resounding Synaxis of the Orthodox Church rejoices and exults today here on earth, proclaiming the renowned sanctity of our Holy Father Hieronymus. But you, Saint Father Hieronymus, remember all of us who are in need, remember our struggling Martyric Church, remember our Most Blessed Archbishop and Father, and all the Hierarchs, the sacred clergy, the monastic order, and the pious remainder of the Orthodox faithful. Remember all of us in the Heavenly Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, of which Kingdom there shall be no end. Christ is Risen!




 

References


[1]. Άγιος Κυπριανός No. 299 (November-December 2000), pp. 363, 366-367.


[2]. "The Declaration of the Saintliness of Saint Hieronymus of Parnithi," Official Website of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, accessed June 13th, 2024, https://www.ecclesiagoc.gr/index.php/%CE%B5%CE%BD%CE%B7%CE%BC%CE%B5%CF%81%CF%89%CF%83%CE%B7/%CE%BD%CE%AD%CE%B1/2251-diakirixis-agiotitos-agiou-ieronimou-parnitha-2024 [3]. "Homily of His Eminence Bishop Kallinikos of Talantion," Archdiocese of Athens - Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, accessed June 13th, 2024, https://iaathgoc.gr/index.php/blog/nea/1220-omilia-talantiou-agiokatataxi-osiou-ieronimou-parnitha-2024

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