More Saints of Carpatho- Rus

In  2006 His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos, of blessed memory,  hierarch of our American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, established a new  feast of to honor the memory of all the Saints who shone forth in Carpatho-Rus.  With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the yearly remembrance was set for the Second Sunday after Pentecost on which Orthodox Churches honor their regional saints.  Among the twelve men and women honored as All Saints of Carpatho-Rus are those well known such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius and the 20th century Confessors of the Faith St. Alexis (Kabaluk) the Carpathian and St. Job (Kundria) of Mala Uholka.  To be added to this honor roll of faith should be two more names:  St. Joseph, bishop of Maramaroš and St. Anthony of Karyes. 

St. Joseph of Maramaroš

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Orthodox faithful of the Carpathians began to experience pressure to be incorporated into the Roman Catholic Church.  This pressure came not only from Catholic missionaries but also from the royal families who ruled those regions.   As Roman Catholic monarchs, they desired to have all their subjects Roman Catholic as a means of controlling the populace.  Many Orthodox bishops and priests supported this union with Rome since the government guaranteed them a higher degree of respect and financial security.  The first union, Union of Brest, was signed in 1595 by 4 of 9 Orthodox bishops of the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom (present day western Ukraine).   The second, the Union of Uzhorod, was signed in 1646 by 63 priests of the Kingdom of Hungary.  Under these unions, the “new church” would preserve Orthodox prayers and liturgical life but accept Catholic doctrine and the authority of the Pope.  For the uneducated peasants who dominated this region, there was little outward change in the life of their church.  They called themselves “pravoslavnyj” “orthodox” prior to these unions and “pravoslavnyj” after.  Those bishops, priests, and people who opposed these unions were harassed and persecuted by the authorities. 

The region of Maramaroš, populated by Rusyns, located along the Romanian/Ukrainian border, was a center of resistance to the union with Rome.  Among the leaders of this resistance was St. Joseph (Stojka), born to a family of simple peasants who were committed to the Orthodox Faith.  Joseph was immersed in his Orthodox Faith in the village churches and monasteries which fill the region.  After his ordination as a priest, he was consecrated bishop in 1690.  As bishop he traversed the region, strenghtening the people in the Orthodox Faith and helping them to  stand firm against this new Uniate faith.  Through his efforts, at least ten monasteries were founded at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries.  In 1701 he was summned to Vienna and later to Sibiu in Romania for interrogation and to pressure him  to accept the Catholic Faith.  For his refusal, he was placed in detention but soon released upon the entreaties of his flock.  In March 1705, Bishop Joseph was again arrested and incarcerated in Chust with no trial or opportunity for defense.  He was released later that year but stripped of his episcopal authority.  In 1711 he was able to resume his episcopal ministry but died soon after from what is described as a long and painful illness.  He was glorified as St. Joseph, the Confessor of the Faith, by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.  The Romanian Orthodox Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania is placed under his patronage. 

Martyr Anthony of Karyes, Greece

The Holy Martyr Anthony of Karyes on Mount Athos in Greece, was a Rusyn from the region that is today western Ukraine.  Raised by pious Orthodox parents, he was baptized with the name Onuphrios.  Despite his faithful, Christian upbringing Onuphrios eventually fell away from the faith becoming a prideful, arrogant man who committed a murder.  But as the Bible says:  Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6)  the faith implanted in his heart blossomed and led him to repentance.  So deep was his repentance that he felt it not sufficient to simply repent through Holy Confession but decided to devote his life entirely to Christ and to atone for his great sin.  He entered the Annunciation Monastery in Suprasl, Poland sometime between 1498-1510 placing himself under the guidance of the Elder Paphnutios, abbot of the monastery. 

Onuphrios continued to be plagued by the guilt of the murder he committed and desired to atone for his sin by offering his blood as a martyr for Christ.  At that time the Muslim Turks were actively persecuting Christians and Onuphrios desired to go to their region and profess Christ.  Elder Paphnutios tried to dissuade him and reminded him of the complete forgiveness Christ offers who said:   „I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance“.  (Luke 15:7)    Paphnutios instructed him to travel to Mount Athos in Greece to receive further guidance and direction from the holy men living in the monasteries there.  Prior to his departure, Father Paphnutios tonsured him as monk with the name Anthony. 

Once again, Anthony told the elders of Mount Athos of his desire to become a martyr of Christ.  Like Father Paphnutios they too dissuaded him and sent him to live in the monastic residence which had been established by St. Savva of Serbia, in the town of Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos.  The elders hoped that by devoting himself to life of prayer and fasting he would come to accept the Lord’s forgiving grace.  No sooner had Anthony settled into his new residence when stories arrived on Mount Athos of a man named George who was martyred by the Turks.  This inflamed Anthony once again with a desire to pay for his sin by martyrdom.  Anthony traveled to the city of Thessalonica and entered a church that had been converted into a mosque and boldly made the Sign of the Cross.  For this he was immediately arrested, tortured and offered release if he would accept the faith of Islam.  Despite the torture, Anthony was steadfast in his devotion to Christ and was burned alive.  The date was February 4, 1516. 

Tropar     (Tone 1)

Child of Rus‘, boast of Poland, Anthony the newly-revealed athlete of Christ,
Let us the faithful together honor having firmly contested on behalf of Christ
he appeared as a new star of Athos, the boast of Thessaloniki.
Glory to Him who gave you strength,
Glory to Him who made you wondrous
Glory to Him who through you fulfills our prayers.

-Father Edward Pehanich

 

 


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