August 27: Saint Fanourios the Great Martyr
Saint Fanourios is undoubtedly a holy, important youthful figure, who stands out in his own way among the other Saints of Christianity, because he is not only honored on a single date, but the faith of Christians often makes the famous fanouropita.
Saint Fanourios, who lived in Roman times, then clashed peacefully with the world of idolatry, because the Christian spirit of the godman did not allow him to deny his unquestionably virtuous principles. Thus, the 12 martyrdoms that the Saint suffered, are for us a strong motivation for endurance and adherence to the moral values of Christianity, to emerge victorious from an unceasing struggle against the infidelity and injustice of our time. The Saint taught us with his real sacrifice, that of course we are not now fighting with Roman rulers and awful Agarines, but we have to face the most cleverly set traps of materialism and atheism, which are massively trying to sweep the ranks of Christians.
Saint Fanourios also taught us that the crown of virtuous life is not easily won, but only with constant trials, with courage, patience and endurance. Therefore, as true fighters of the faith, let us imitate the exemplary and impeccable life of the Saint, so that one day we too may be honored to honor the Christian name we bear, just as he deservedly honored it.
- Generally about his life
There is nothing specific about the origin and life of Agios Fanourios, because all the elements of his life were lost in times of anomaly.
The only information we have about the Saint is the finding of his icon, around 1500 AD, according to the synaxaries, or according to others around 1355-1369 AD. Others claim that the icon of the Saint was found in Rhodes and others in Cyprus.
- Finding the image
We go back to the past, when the Agarines ruled Rhodes and decided to rebuild the city walls, which they barbarically destroyed and demolished in the war a few years ago.
So they began to send workers out of the southern part of the fortress and to collect stones from the half-ruined houses of the inhabitants, in order to rebuild the new and strong walls of their city. Suddenly in the ruins they found a beautiful, but half-ruined church on one side and in there they found a pile of icons, which from time immemorial did not distinguish the figures of the Saints as well as the letters they had on them.
Only one amazing image stood out from all, which time did not touch and represented a young man dressed as a soldier. The Metropolitan of Rhodes Nilos immediately ran on the spot and clearly read the name of the Saint, whose name was Fanourios. His Eminence, moved by the revelation of the Saint, noticed that he was dressed like a Roman soldier, holding a cross in his left hand and a lighted candle in his right. The hagiographer still painted around the image in twelve representations the martyrdoms, which the Saint suffered and which, obviously narrate his whole life.
These performances are as follows:
1. The saint appears standing in front of his Roman interrogator and seems to be apologizing with courage and defending his Christian faith.
2. The soldiers here intervene and hit Fanourios with stones on the head and in the mouth, in order to force him to bow down and deny the Lord.
3. The soldiers are now enraged by Fanouri’s insistence, so they threw him down and now beat him savagely with sticks and bats, to lower his prosperous morale.
4. Fanourios is in prison and there he is tortured in an abominable way. He looks completely naked and the soldiers around him tear his flesh with sharp iron tools. The Saint endures untouched his terrible martyrdom.
5. Fanourios is back in prison and prays to God to help him endure the torture to the end.
6. The Saint appears again before the Roman investigator to apologize for his attitude. From the restless expression on his face it seems that neither the tortures he suffered, nor the future threats of the tyrant shook his faith and so he fearlessly awaits even worse martyrdoms.
7. The executioners of Fanouri with fury and cruelty burn with naked candles his naked body, which thus shows his insurmountable sacrifice for the Crucified. The Saint wins again with his indomitable will and courage in the Lord.
8. Here his savage torturers also use mechanical means to reach the peak of his martyrdom. They have tied the Saint to a mango and this, as it rotates, breaks his bones. He suffers untouched but on his beautiful face is painted expressionless joy, because he suffers for the sake of the Lord.
9. Fanourios is thrown into a pit, to be north of wild beasts and his executioners from above are watching to see his end. But the beasts have literally been domesticated by the grace of God, so they surround him quietly like lambs and enjoy his company wonderfully.
10. His executioners are not satisfied with the previous result and so they take him out of the pit and crush him with a big stone, sure now that they will finish him. But they are not succeeding this time either.
11. The scene shows the Saint in front of an altar, where his executioners urge him to sacrifice, putting burning coals in his palms. Fanourios comes out of this test victorious and this is distinguished by a devil, who has the form of a dragon, who flies in the air and cries for his failure.
12. The last scene is the end of his martyrdom, with Fanourios thrown on a large stove standing on a stool and surrounded by flames and smoke. The Saint seems to pray unceasingly to God, without expressing any grievance or groaning and so, rigid and unyielding, he flew to heaven, full of satisfaction for all the sufferings he suffered for the sake of the Lord.
- Elements from finding the image
Seeing the icon of Agios Fanourios found in Rhodes, we extract many remarkable facts which are the following:
1. If we read the name of the Saint in the picture, we immediately conclude that it is of Greek origin.
2. We also conclude that his parents were very pious, to give him such a Christian name.
3. This young man would still be highly educated to become a military man.
4. We also estimate that the martyrdoms of Agios Fanourios took place in the second and third centuries, when the persecutions of the Christians were at their peak.
5. Fanourios clearly proves that he was a Great Martyr from the many and terrible martyrdoms he suffered.
6. We also make sure that he was honored by the faithful Christians from the years of his martyrdom in Christian temples, in order to find such a temple in Rhodes as well.
7. From the depiction of the Saint it seems that Fanourios martyred young people age.
- Miracles of the Saint
Saint Fanourios performed several miracles to the faithful who invoke his name and one of them is the following:
At a time in its historical life, Crete was enslaved by the Latins (1204 – 1669 AD), who had their own Archbishop and therefore tried in every way to lure the inhabitants of the island to Catholicism (Papism).
Thus the Latins took as an oppressive measure against Orthodoxy not to allow ordination of priests in Crete, so the Cretans were forced to go to the island of Tsirigos (Kythira) to be ordained priests by an Orthodox High Priest, who resided there.
At some point, three deacons started from Crete for Tsirigos and after being ordained priests there, they returned unhappy to their long-suffering island from slavery. Unfortunately, Agarian pirates captured them at sea, transported them to Rhodes, where they sold them to three different Agarian masters.
The position of the three priests was deplorable and yet a sweet anticipation came to sweeten their bitter complaint. He learned that in Rhodes Agios Fanourios performed miracles and in him they based their hopes and they always prayed and invoked each one of them individually, to save them from the cruel captivity of the meager Agarines.
So he asked each priest, without consulting each other, from his master, to give him permission to go to church to worship the icon of St. Fanourios. All three of them easily took leave, reverently worshiped the image of the Saint, wetting the earth with their tears, kneeling as if praying and with all the power of their souls begging Saint Fanourios to intercede to save them from the hands of the Agarines.
After the priests left, relieved of their pain, Saint Fanourios appeared at night to all three of their masters and ordered them to free their slave priests, otherwise he would punish them severely. However, the Agarin rulers considered the intervention of the Saint as a kind of magic, so they chained their slaves and began to torture them in a worse way.
The next night, however, Agios Fanourios intervened more effectively, freed the three priests from their shackles and promised them that he would free them from the Agarines the next day. He appeared again to the Agarines and threatened them this time, that if they did not release the priests in the morning, he would treat them harshly.
The next morning the Agarines felt the punishment, because they all lost their light and their bodies became paralyzed. So they were then forced to consult their relatives to discuss the evil that befell them. All the lords decided to call the three priests, maybe they could help them. The only answer the priests gave was that they would pray to their God and He would decide.
On the third night, Saint Fanourios appeared again to the Agarines and announced to them that if the three lords did not send in writing to his temple their consent for the release of the priests, they would not regain their health. The Agarins then, willingly or unwillingly, wrote the letter requested by Agios Fanourios and unequivocally declared that they were granting their freedom to the three priests. These statements were submitted to the holy temple of the Saint.
Even before the delegation of the Agarines returned from the temple, the blind and paralyzed unbelievers were completely healed by the will of the Saint. The rich Agarnes gave to the three priests all the expenses of their trip and before they left they took refuge in the church, and after thanking the Saint for their release, they faithfully copied the icon of Agios Fanourios and took it to Crete, where they honored it every year with eulogies and liturgies.
- The pie of Agios Fanourios
The great honor that Christians have in Agios Fanourios, became the reason for the creation of the traditional custom of the Saint’s pie or better of the fanouropita.
The pie is usually small and round and is made from pure flour, sugar, cinnamon, oil and after all these ingredients are mixed, kneaded, put in a round form and the pie is baked at a moderate temperature in the oven.
The pie is made to reveal to a Saint a lost object, a job if one is inactive, a lost cause, the health of a sick person and the like.
Our Church celebrates his memory on August 27.