Sainted Athanasias III Patelarios, Patriarch of Tsaregrad, Wonderworker of Lubensk

Commemorated on May 2

      Sainted Athanasias III Patelarios, Patriarch of Tsaregrad, Wonderworker of Lubensk, in the world Alexis, was born in 1560 on the island of Crete, into the pious Greek family Patelarios. Despite his education and position in society, the life of Christian ascetics attracted Alexis. After the death of his father he took vows as a novice in one of the Thessalonika monasteries with the name Ananias, from whence he later went to the monastery of Hesthymenes at Athos, where he did obedience in the refectory. From Athos he undertook a journey to the Palestinian monasteries and in one of them he took monastic tonsure with the name Athanasias. Upon his return to Thessalonika he was made presbyter and spread the teaching of Christ among the Valachs and the Moldovians, for whom he translated the Psalter from the Greek into their own languages. On occasion the saint journeyed to Mount Athos for prayerful solitude and the blessing of God upon his pastoral work. The holiness of his life attracted a multitude of Christians, wishing to see a true preacher of the Orthodox faith in Christ.
      By his remarkable abilities and spiritual gifts he attracted the attention of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril I (Lukaris) (1621-1623), who having summoned the ascetic, appointed him preacher for the Patriarchal cathedra-see. Soon Saint Athanasias was elevated to the dignity of bishop and made Metropolitan of the Church of Soluneia (Thessalonika).
      At this time Patriarch Cyril I (Lukaris) was slandered before the sultan and imprisoned on the island of Tenedos, and Saint Athanasias was chosen upon the Patriarchal throne on 25 March 1634, on the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God.
      Situated upon the archpastoral cathedra-seat, Patriarch Athanasias led an incessant struggle against heretics, Jesuits and Mahometans. Being on the Patriarchal throne but about 40 days, he was deposed through the intrigues of the enemies of Orthodoxy, and upon the cathedra-seat Cyril I (Lukaris) was returned. The saint set off to Athos, where for a certain time he pursued asceticism in solitude. Then he was again elevated to the Patriarchate, but again after a year he was deposed, after which he returned to the city of Thessalonika and kept up his connections with Athos. In view of the intolerable persecutions of the Christians by the Mahometans, Saint Athanasias was repeatedly obliged to send (from 1633 to 1643) petitions to the Russian tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645) concerning the bestowing of alms for the hapless Church of Constantinople.
      When dwelling at Thessalonika became for the saint impossible, he was forced to journey to Moldavia under the protection of its sovereign, Basilos Lukulos, and he settled there in the monastery of Saint Nicholas near Galats. And here he constantly turned his gaze towards Mount Athos, he visited it often and hoped to finish his life there. But the prescience of God judged otherwise.
      In 1652 after the martyr's death of Patriarch Cyril I (Lukaris), Saint Athanasias was again elevated to the OEcumenical cathedra. But he was on it for only 15 days, since this preacher of the Orthodox faith in Christ was not pleasing to the Mahometans and Catholics. During the time of his final Patriarchal service he preached a sermon, in which he denounced the papal pretensions to be head of the OEcumenical Church and the pretensive apostolic pre-eminence. Persecuted by the Mahometans and Jesuits, physically weakened, he transferred the running of the Constantinople Church to the Metropolitan of Laureia, Paisios, and he withdrew to Moldavia, where he received from the sovereign to be administrator of the monastery of Saint Nicholas at Galats. Knowing the deep faith and responsiveness of the Russian nation, Saint Athanasias undertook a journey to Russia. In April 1653 he was met with great honour in Moscow by Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658) and tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich. Having received generous alms for the needs of the monastery, in December 1653 Patriarch Athanasias left for Galats. On the way he fell ill and stayed at the Transfiguration Mgarsk monastery in the city of Lubno in February 1654. Sensing his impending death, the saint compiled a final testament and on 5 April expired to God. Hegumen Petronios with the brethren of the monastery made the burial of the Patriarch. By Greek custom the saint was buried in a sitting position. On 1 February 1662 Saint Athansias was glorified into the ranks of the Saints and his feastday established under 2 May, on the day of co-memory of Saint Athanasias the Great.
      The relics of holy Patriarch Athansias, glorified by numerous miracles and signs, rest in the city of Khar'kov, in the Annunciation cathedral church.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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Sainted Athanasias
III Patelarios, Patriarch of Tsaregrad, Wonderworker of Lubensk

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