St. Arsenios the Righteous of Cappadocia
Commemorated on November 10th
“The most-righteous Arsenios of Cappadocia was born around 1840 in Farasa or Varasio, in Kephalochori, one of the six Christian villages of the region of Farasa of Cappadocia. His parents were rich in virtues and good deeds. They had two boys, Vlasios and Theodore (St. Arsenios).
From a young age they remained an orphan and was cared for by their aunt, the sister of their mother. Young Theodore was miraculously saved in his youth by St. George. This had a great effect in the lives of the children: Vlasios glorified God in his own way later in life by becoming a teacher of Byzantine Music, while Theodore later became a monk.
Continuing to grow, Theodore moved to Nigde and after to Smyrna to continue his studies.
When he was about 20 years old he went to the Holy Monastery of the Precious Forerunner Flavianon, and later he was tonsured a Monk and took the name Arsenios. Unfortunately he did not have much time for hesychia, because at that time there was a great need for teachers, and Metropolitan Paisios II ordained him Deacon and sent him to Farasa for teach letters to the neglected children. This naturally was done in secret, with two thousand precautions, so that the Turks wouldn’t learn what they were doing. At the age of 30 he was ordained a priest in Caesarea with the title of Archimandrite and the blessing to be a spiritual father.
Picture of the town of Farasa, Cappadocia as it appears today)
Thus began his spiritual endeavor to grow and extend. With the bounty of Divine Grace which was bestowed on him God healed the souls and bodies of the suffering people. He had much love towards God and towards His icon, man, and not for himself, for, when he saw much pain and repression by the Turks, his love left outside of himself and outside of his village and embraced the surrounding villages. He healed indiscriminately the human pain of those he met, whether they were Christians or Turks. To the Saint it didn’t make a difference, because he saw each person, as the icon of God fashioned with much love. Countless are the miracles with the Saint worked with the Grace of God. Pregnant women bore children, after he read a prayer and gave them a phylacto which was a piece of paper written with some prayer that he wrote himself. The Saint read the Gospel [over the sick] in serious circumstances, such as for the blind, mute, lame, paralytics, demon-possessed, and they became better, as soon as he finished the reading. Many Christians and Turks had been healed, after taking soil from the doorstep to his cell and mixing it with some water and drinking it, believing that they would be healed, and their faith they had in the Saint, worked the miracle. He naturally never accepted money or even a hand. He would say continually “our faith is not for sale”…
Icon depicting St. Arsenios in prayer bringing forth Holy Water()
His cell, small, unadorned, was located in the world. He lived in the world, but at the same time established to live outside the world. In this, and for his divine feats, he was much aided by the two days (Wednesday and Friday) when he remained locked in his cell, in prayer. These bore more fruit spiritually, because they blessed the work of the other days. For hours he remained on his knees praying to God for His people, which he had entrusted to His servant Arsenios. The great sensitivity of the Holy Father did not allow him to do any harm to creation. Especially to animals. He never rode on an animal to tire it, that he might rest himself. He always preferred to travel as a pedestrian, and he did so barefoot. He had before him Christ Who never sat on an animal – except for one time – and as he characteristically said:
“I whom am worse than the donkey, how could I sit on it?”
To hide his virtues from the eyes of men and to flee from their praises, he took refuge in certain “eccentricities”. He appeared strict, angry, irritable, snubbing different women, who from love towards him and gratitude tried to help him, in various ways, to cook for him or to send him food. He characteristically said however to his faithful friend and chanter Prodromos the following:
“If I had wished to be served by women, I would have become a married priest and my wife would serve me. The monk who is served by women, is not a monk”…
The inhabitants of Farasa would say “in our Homeland we did not know of any doctor, we ran to Hatzefendis [what the people would call St. Arsenios]. In Greece we learned about doctors, but when we tell that to others, it appears strange to them.”
Among his other gifts he had the gift of prophecy. He had learned from God that they would be leaving for Greece and this took place on August 14th 1924 with the exchange of populations. He learned previously about his death and that it would occur on an island…
[Before the departure St. Arsenios hastened to baptize all the unbaptized children. One of these he asked the parents to name Arsenios instead of Christos, the name of the child’s grandfather. He said characteristically with the prophetic knowledge: “You want to leave a child at the grandfather’s foot, don’t I want to leave a monk at my foot?”
Thus, as Elder Paisios mentioned in his book on St. Arsenios, he either foresaw that he would become a monk someday or he bestowed a spiritual inheritance on this young child. Either case indicate a holy person.]
Three months before his repose the Panagia came to him, and took him around to all of Mount Athos, to the Churches which he so much wished to see but was not able to, and said that in three days he would be presented to the Lord, Whom he loved so much and have the whole of himself.
He reposed on November 10th 1924. [On February 11th 1986 he was acknowledged a Saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.]”
“Father Arsenios proclaimed true Orthodoxy with his Orthodox life. He mortified his flesh in asceticism from his ardent love of God, and modified souls with the Grace of God. He believed deeply and healed many, believers and non-believers. Few words, many miracles. He experienced much and hid much. Within his hard outer shell, he concealed his sweet, spiritual fruit. A very harsh father to himself, but also a very loving father to his children. He never beat them with the law.… As minister of the Most High, he did not tread the earth, and as co-administrant of the sacraments he shone upon the world.”—Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain
The full biography and miracles (which are very many) of St. Arsenios was compiled by Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, and is published by the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti (founded by the Elder) with the title: Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian. St. Arsenios’ Relics currently reside at the church dedicated to him at the Monastery of St. John, where they continue to work many miracles.
Picture of Elder Paisios before the Holy and Wonderworking Skull of St. Arsenios, his spiritual guide and protector )
When St. Arsenios met a situation requiring a prayer not present in the various prayer books, he would routinely use one of the Psalms as a prayer or blessing. The Psalter of St. Arsenios
Apolytikion of St. Arsenios of Cappadocia in the Third Tone
You strived to live a life trully inspired by God, you became a holy vessel of the Paraclete, bearer of God, Arsenios, and you were given the grace to perform miracles, offering to everyone your quick help, our holy Father, we plead you, pray to Jesus Christ our Lord to grant us His grand mercy.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!