St. Philoumenos the Martyr icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Philoumenos the HieroMartyr.

Comemmorated August 27th

Saint Philoumenos came from the village of Orounta in the province of Morphou, Cyprus. The neomartyr was born in 1913 to George and Magdalene Hasapis, along with his twin brother Archimandrite Elpidios. Even though his parents came from the village of Orounta, they lived at the parish of St. Savvas in Nicosia, since his father had his own inn and bakery there. From a young age, he and his brother Elpidios showed a special zeal for the sacred Scriptures of Christ, being inspired in particular by their grandmother Loxantra, who aside from their mother, influenced them in learning the ways of the Church and developing a truly Orthodox conscience.

Together with his brother Elpidios, they showed a strong enthusiasm for prayer, read the lives of the Saints, and learned the hymns of the Church. In particular they where touched by the life of Saint John the "Kalyvitis", who in some way made an impact on them, to the point of inspiring them to want to follow the life of monks. At the age of 14, the two brothers left for the ancient Monastery of Stavrovouni, founded by the Empress St. Helen, and stayed there for five years. Afterwards, they both left for Jerusalem, where they attended High School.

Upon finishing High School in 1939, Father Elpidios served as a priest in different places, eventually leaving for Mount Athos, while Father Philoumenos joined the monastic  Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and in 1979 Saint Philoumenos was appointed guardian of the Monastery of Saint Jacob's Well. The crowning moment of Father Philoumenos earthly pilgrimage came on November 16/29, 1979 at the shrine built on the site of Jacob's Well. The Saint experienced a martyric death at the hands of extremist people, who massacred him with an ax in the evening, while he was performing Vespers at the Well of Jacob where he lived as a loyal guardian of the Holy Places and centuries old way of life.

The week before his martyrdom, a group of fanaticals had come to the monastery at Jacob's Well, claiming it as a Jewish holy place and demanding that all crosses and icons be removed. Of course, the Saint pointed out that the floor upon which they were standing had been built by Emperor Constantine before 331 A.D. and had served as an Orthodox Christian holy place for sixteen centuries before the Israeli State was created, and had been in Samaritan hands eight centuries before that.The group left with threats, insults and obscenities of the kind which local Christians suffer regularly After a few days, on November 16/29, 1979, during a torrential downpour, a group broke into the monastery.

The saint had already put on his epitrachelion for Vespers. The body of the Saint was handed over to the Orthodox 6 days after his massacre, but retained its flexibility and was buried in the cemetery of Mount Zion. 0Saint Philoumenos served in the Holy Land for 46 years (1933-1979). After four years his body was exhumed, as is customary among Greek monks. It was found to be substantially incorrupt and had the smell of a beautiful scent. Then the tomb was closed and was reopened during the Christmas season of 1984.

On November 17/30, Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem, accompanied by various Greek bishops, archimandrites, clergymen and monastics, opened the grave. The coffin was reverently removed from its grave in the cemetery of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher on Mount Sion, and, when the shroud was lifted off, the relics were found to be substantially incorrupt. The remains were rinsed with wine, and then wrapped in a sheet. A short requiem service was then chanted. His body was then placed in a glass shrine in the northern part of the sacred Holy Altar in Mount Zion.

Hieromartyr Philoumenos was ranked among the Saints of the Church of Jerusalem on August 17/30, 2008, and from that time, his incorrupt body was transferred to the pilgrimage site of Saint Jacob's Well where he had found martyrdom for the love of Christ. His memory is honored on November 29, especially in the Holyu Metropolis of Morphou of the Church of Cyprus, and the community of Orounta, which observes an all-night long church service in memory of the martyr Saint Philoumenos the New. The Lord has seen fit to allow our generation of Christians to have martyrs of its own.