St. Euthymios the New, of Thessalonica, Monk of Mt. Athos - Feast Day March 22nd
The rugged mountains of central Greece, the Peloponnesos area, has produced illustrious sons who have added lustre to the history of Greece already crowded with heroic figures of both Church and nation. Distinguished in this great company was Eleutherios, born and baptized in the village of Demetsana in 1796. He later came to be known as Euthymios of Constantinople The son of a business merchant with holdings in Moldavia, he was to settle in Constantinople, the city with which he was identified In his brief life span of twenty years Euthymios was to plunge into the depths of degradation then scale the heights of glory in and emotional kaleidoscope.
While still a young teenager, Eleutherios journeyed to Constantinople. Along the way he visited Mt. Athos. This stop-over was to influence him later, when he sorely needed a spiritual revival. Having been educated in the finest schools, he was captivated by the civic charm of the grand old capital, and was very much at home there until hostilities broke out between Russia and Turkey. He made his way to Bucharest where a friend at the French Embassy welcomed him. In a few short months his life was to change.
Eleutherios fell in with a group of young Turks under whose influence he replaced his spiritual inheritance with that of the sensual hedonism of tribal sheiks. Gradually he gave way to a life of debauchery, spending his time drinking, carousing and in general, wallowing in sins of the flesh. He finally reached the point where, in a drunken stupor he disavowed Christ, and to the howling delight of his disreputable companions, embraced their Muslim faith.
Not long after this shoddy display, Eleutherios was consumed by the spectre of damnation. With absolute repentance he fell to his knees asking for the forgiveness of Christ. It was then that Mt. Athos came into his mind's eye, for as he wept in contrition, he remembered his short but sweet visit.
In the holy confines of Mt. Athos, the youthful Eleutherios was reborn. He sought God in prayerful meditation and asked forgiveness for his foolish departure from the path of righteousness. He spent several months at the Monastery of the Great Lavra in total dedication to the word of the Lord. A former patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory, who had chosen to spend his declining years at the monastery, greatly aided Eleutherios in his acceptance of the monastic life. At the Skete of St. Anne he was tonsured, being given the name of Euthymios.
He remained on the Holy Mountain long enough to become an instrument of God; many miracles were wrought by his hands. Euthymios felt compelled to return to Constantinople to support the besieged Christian faith. Once there, he was betrayed to the Turks and imprisoned for having mocked the Muslim faith in Bucharest and for his complete return to Christianity. But the requirements for sainthood had become so stringent over the centuries, decreasing with the passing years primarily because of the universality of the Christian faith, that by the time the nineteenth century arrived there was a very faint prospect of any saint arriving with it. The exception to this ever demanding rule had to be a man of rare exception, not necessarily, distinction, and St. Euthymios was, as we have seen, just that exceptional man. He had risen above the human frailties that had nearly cost him his soul, but in his repentance, duplicated many times over by Christian brethren for transgression, he went that step beyond to earn the immortality that lies within the grasp of any true follower of Jesus Christ.
On 22 March 1814, at the age of twenty, this Christian stalwart was beheaded. A tiny chapel on Mt. Athos is dedicated to his memory and every year special liturgical services are chanted by his brother monks.
Taken from Orthodox Saints by George Poulos.
For a description of this icon and the troparion and kontakion for this saint please click here