Saturday, 11 August 2012

Holiday in Crete

As from next Tuesday, August 14th, my family and I will be on holiday in Elounda, Crete. While there we shall be attending Mass at the Church of St. Charalambos. With a bit of luck I'll be able to update the blog while there but I make no promises.

The Church of St. Charalambos in Agios Nikolaos.

St Charalambos.

Who was St. Charambos? The name in Greek mean 'joyful lamp'.The following short biography is taken from wikipedia.

Saint Charalampus was either the Bishop of Magnesia or a priest who served there, and spread the Gospel in that region for many years. However, when news of his preaching reached the authorities of the area, the proconsul Lucian and military commander Lucius, the saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.[2]
Despite his advanced age, he was tortured mercilessly. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, and scraped all the skin from his body.[2] The saint had only one thing to say to his tormentors: "Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life."[1]
According to the saint's hagiography, upon witnessing Charalampus' endurance of these tortures, two soldiers named Porphyrius and Baptus openly confessed their faith in Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of Charalampus also began to glorify Christ, and were quickly martyred as well.[2]
The legend continues to say that Lucius, enraged, seized the instruments of torture and began to torture Charalampus himself, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. The governor Lucian then spat in the face of the saint, and immediately Lucian's head was turned around so that he faced backwards.[2] Apparently, Lucian and Lucius both prayed for mercy, and were healed by the saint, and became Christians.
More tortures, the legend says, were wrought upon the saint after he was brought to Septimius Severus himself. Condemned to death and led to the place of execution, Charalampus raised his arms to heaven and prayed for all men: "Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy blessing on all." After praying this, the saint gave up his soul to God even before the executioner had laid his sword to his neck. Tradition says that Severus' daughter Gallina[3] was so moved by his death, that she was converted and buried Charalampus herself.[1]

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