ENCOUNTERS WITH SAINTS

Saint Philothea of Thrace, Protectress of Romania
I grew up in a house where we did not have icons, none that I can remember, and where we did not talk much about God, the Theotokos or saints. My grandmothers taught me to say a few prayers and took me to church on a couple of occasions.
As I grew up, icons started to enter our house, but by then I was a very rebellious teenager so did not make any friends among the saints. When I moved to Lancaster, although I always had faith, I brought no icons with me. In fact, I felt a strange opposition to having traditional icons in my room or in my house later on. A streak of rebellion and ignorance in fact made me hide away in a drawer the icons which I received for my wedding. It is very painful to remember this and the fact I actually damaged one of them by accident. A friend told me then to make sure I keep the icons because when the time was right, I would treasure them.
A few years later, I started feeling guilty about having the icons hidden away and put a cou-ple up in my bedroom. I was still unsure about it, but it started feeling wrong to have them in a drawer. They were just one of Christ and the Theotokos.
Then… the saints started arriving. And I dis-covered that saints are tenacious and come into your home uninvited. If you refuse to welcome them, they will knock again and again. And every time I had a slightly unkind thought about a Saint, they came to befriend me. I am a constantly reluctant and continuously repentant friend of saints as the few stories which follow will tell. I felt that, being such an unworthy and sinful lover of Saints, I had to talk about them, so other people might come to know them a little better and love them a little more and I would like to hear other people’s stories of saints, so my circle of holy friends may grow.
Saint Filofteia
First came Saint Filofteia (or Philothea). I had never heard of her and did not invite her. It was a gift from Father Bogdan when he visited Lancaster about 13 years ago. I myself thought is was an unusual icon to be bringing, but it immediately struck a chord with me because Filofteia was the name of my grandmother who first talked to me about God and Christ and taught me to say a prayer before bed. So many times in my child-hood and growing up, I thought it was a very strange name. It seemed to me at the time old and old fashioned, from a different era and I had often thought that I had never met anyone else by that name and mused on how her parents had come up with it. And how foolish I was, since her name means lover of God in Greek.
As the icon of Saint Filofteia arrived and was temporarily placed in the kitchen, where it still is, overlooking the hub of activity of the house, I started reading about the Saint. Another thing which resonated with me was the fact that her rel-ics are to be found in Romania at the monastery Curtea de Argeş, where my other grandmother always wanted us to go on a trip. Sadly, we never made it because she passed away. But Saint Filofteia makes me remember my two grand-mothers with great affection and gratitude for the seeds of faith they planted when I was a child. But beyond that, as I read about her brief life, I felt such love for the little saint who lived at the be-ginning of the XIII century in Trnovo modern day Bulgaria. She was born in a family of peasants. Filofteia’s mother was a pious woman and taught her to read the Scriptures, fast and pray. She often went to church. Sadly, her mother died when she was only young and her father remarried. Her stepmother disliked the child and her piousness, but Filofteia continued in her Christian upbringing, despite constant beatings and scoldings. She had a very compassionate heart and gave every-thing away to the poor and the hungry. One of her daily duties was to take her father’s lunch to him in the fields where he was working. But on the way, she saw some hungry children and, as was her habit, gave them some of her father’s lunch. Her father saw her and became so angry that in a fit of rage he threw his axe at her and killed her on the spot. She was 12 years old. Immediately repentant, he tried to lift the body but was unable to move it and he was further terrified by the fact it shone with a white light. He ran to the city and came back with the local archbishop and many people. They all marvelled at how the body shone and read prayers and glorified God.
It is not entirely clear when her relics arrived in Romania, but most likely they were taken over the Danube for protection during the Turkish invasion of Bulgaria around 1393. The saint is revered both in Romania and Bulgaria and her feast day is the 7th of December. She is the protectress of abused children and children in general and many are the miracles attributed to her, especially for the sick.

By Alexandra McC.

9 comments on “ENCOUNTERS WITH SAINTS

  1. anchoritelady says:

    Thank God the Saints didn’t leave you alone but continued to invite themselves into your life and home! You might be the one to ask – Could you possibly have or direct me to locate an Akathist to All Saints in English? I and others have searched the internet only to find Akathists to individual Saints or Saints of America. I am searching for a Reader in an Orthodox Church in England who will need it this weekend. Seems very difficult to locate this Akathist. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated. Thankyou and God bless!

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  2. Beautiful story here you’ve told; and vivid explanation of your personal connection with the saints. I used to work with a man with great scientific knowledge and vast education from books having also studied in the seminary to become a priest, which later he through an epiphany found was not God’s will for him but to marry a woman who was barren and would never have a child through giving birth. They both over some years have known each other through mutual friends and activities but one day at a big cyclist event they both got the message from God that he wanted them together, they had no doubt because of their devout orthodox faith and belief as he told me that the Church is like a jewel with many facts reflecting unto one another and the saints are members of this family who are shining the most for us to appreciate their virtues and strengths which we can hope to emulate and reflect in our own lives they are shining examples of genuine pure faith in God and how to live our lives expressing hat love daily like St’ Mother Teresa said one day at a time. Imagine what a world this would be if more people would try to live as she did and be so humble and selfless! I recently wrote an article after being attacked by some supposed Christians a couple in particular that said my devout Catholic faith was evil and look what Catholics did during WWII and how they are supporters of Nazis and are anti-Semitic! I’m only a man and I have genuine strong faith but i was so agitated and hurt too. I tend to be an emotional Italian full of passion and sensitive to things often going on around me but this was painful to be spat upon so I reacted with my faith and showed them how the whole beginnings of “rebellion and ignorance” started right after Jesus arose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, and this resistance from the devil has never let up and in fact the whole Reformation was the capstone to the long brewing breaking up of the Church hat Jesus told Peter to build and that Peter was to be the cornerstone of the Church family or the first Pope basically. I will leave you with a link to that blog posting of mine that explains this all more but I want to day isn’t it odd how so many anti-Orthodox or even anti-Catholic Christians can be so destructive and mean spirited and they toss us and our saints to the curb yet they have sports icons and legends that they worship not just look up to in some cases but a sort of hero worship that I’ve witnessed having worked in the past a News and Sports photojournalist and there were guys if you said one thing to knock down their hero they would want to knock your block off and I know that is extreme as an example because most aren’t that bad but they all adore those living and dead sports icons and can’t say enough about them at times! How can they disconnect from the fact that St. Lawrence, or Joan of Arc and your Grandmothers patron saint her name sake Saint Filofteia (or Philothea) just like my name is from my Grandfather and of course in the family tree from St. Lawrence. What a shame some people reject our lovely and loving saints and won’t give an ounce of reverence to them because they say it is wrong or not worshiping God and Jesus but yet they worship mere athletes who may be Olympic champions but never did anything for humanity like the Saints did and do but they give their sports icons great reverence and as i said hero worship them! Yes rebellion and ignorance are from the evil one who began all transgression from God our Father and so many humans now are so ignorant or stubborn to see the simplicity and beauty of these gifts that God provided to us all in the form of saints these very blessed touched by the Holy Spirit individuals that were true servants of God and not servants of man or this world which is so crooked.
    God bless you and keep this faith strong and pray for us all dear Sister in Christ Jesus. Amen.
    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence
    https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/05/31/the-grace-of-god-produces-unity-and-the-disciples-of-jesus-experience-this-concretely-at-pentecost/

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  3. Cyprian says:

    St. Filofteea’s relics moved shortly after she was martyred. When the bishop arrived with the priests they too found they couldn’t move her relics. So they started naming the monasteries in Bulgaria but St Filofteea did not budge. Then they started naming monasteries next door and when Curtea de Arges was mentioned the relics was able to be moved. I believe that her mother was from that area.

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