Wednesday, December 30, 2009

St. Gideon the New Righteous Martyr of Karakallou (+1818)

St. Gideon the New Righteous Martyr of Karakallou (+1818) - martyred in Tyrnavo of Thessaly on December 30th (icon taken from:

The Saint was from the town of Kapourna near Makrynitsa of Peliou. He had pious parents, and he was the first of eight children in the family. His family name was Nicholas. His father, because of taxation, was forced to move the family to another town, where he could save the money as needed. The Saint was then twelve years old.

His mother had a cousin who was a grocer in Velestino, who sought the small Nicholas to help in his store. In reality the child worked with great willingness. At one time a Turk named Ali, who frequented the grocery store, saw that the young Nicholas was bright, hard-working and obedient, and sought him from his uncle for one year to work in his harem, as he was still of a young age. The uncle refused, telling him to ask his mother for him. After one week the Turk returned angered, seized the small Nicholas by force and took him to his house to serve in his harem.

After a year his father went and sought Nicholas from Ali. He responded, “I have a child in the war. As soon as my son returns, come and get your son.” In a few days the son of the Turk returned from the war, and seeing the child, he told his father: “Where did you find this Roman [Greek] child to work in your harem? It's incompatible to have a Roman work in a harem. I would want to have him circumcised, to become his sponsor and to have him work in the harem forever. And immediately this impious one began to tempt Nicholas. In the end, because of his arguments and the youth's young age, he convinced him to deny Christ and to convert to islam.

After two months however, the child perceived his fall, and he repented and cried bitterly.

One night, he managed to flee secretly and go to him home. He related his situation to his father saying: “I have sinned, I have sinned from here to there and I don't want to be a Turk or be known as one.” The unfortunate father replied with tears: I, my Niko, am a poor man, I don't have the money to hide you somewhere. Tomorrow night I will take you by horse to Keramidi and I will return with a load of fish from the port of Karla so the Turks won't suspect me. You will try to go to the Holy Mountain. Now that I am returning, who knows how I will find your mother and your siblings, because I learned that the Turks were gathering wood to burn us. Let us also die for Christ.”

There in Keramidi he for the Saint to be housed by a nun who they were related to, who gave him to some builders as a helper. After a few days the group of builders who were working left by boat for Crete and took him with them. The builders however unfortunately abused Nicholas and beat him inhumanely many time. Thus he left and strutted around a forrest. One day he found a small chapel, where the Divine Liturgy was happening. A priest saw this stranger in a poor condition, and asked him to recount his life to him. “Don't cry, my child” the priest told him. “I had an only son who died a few days previously. If you want, I can make you my son.” With great joy he accepted the priest's offer and Nicholas went with him to his home, where he and his presbytera took him in as their son. Thus he lived happily in the priest's house, learning the priest's trade of weaving.

After three years unfortunately, the priest died, and his presbytera, because she couldn't support him along with their two daughters, gave Nicholas her blessing to leave to seek his fortune. He Saint cried in repentance to his spiritual mother and left.

Wandering around Crete with one of his peers, they decided to go on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. Once they reached Daphne by boat, they separated, and Nicholas began to visit the monasteries and sketes of the Holy Mountain. In the end he reached the Holy Monastery of Karakallou, where he confessed his fall and he re-entered the Church with the Holy Chrism and communed the Divine Mysteries. He remained in the Monastery, where he became a monk with the name Gideon. He lived with great obedience, humility, abstinence and countless ascetical struggles, which only God Who knows the heart knows, weeping continually for his fall.

After 35 years of ascesis the desire for martyrdom was lit within his heart, and with the blessings of the fathers he left the Holy Mountain and traveled to Velestino, where he had originally converted and acted as a fool.

On Holy Thursday he presented himself before Ali, who had him made a muslim, and confessed Christ. The Turk immediately sought to arrest him and lead him to the judge. On Holy Friday the Saint, wearing a crown of flowers and holding two red eggs, appeared before the judge saying: “Christ is risen.” There at the place of judgment, he did other strange actions which caused the judge to order him beat mercilessly and to throw him out as crazy. He sought that they deliberately put him to death, but it was not yet the will of God. He lived for some time appearing as a fool by day, but by night he withdrew to a cave, where he performed his ascetical feats.

In the end, with his way of live and his words urging the Turks, Veli Pasha of Tyrnavo ordered his arrest.

The Saint, who was prepared beforehand with the sacrament of Holy Unction and with Holy Communion, followed the soldiers of the Pasha to Tyrnavo. Before the Pasha, he confessed his denial, his repentance, his return to Christ, and his desire for confession and martyrdom there where he first denied. The Pasha locked him in prison.

St. Gideon the New Righteous Martyr of Karakallou, and St. George the New Martyr of Ioannina (taken from:

The next day, having called other high ranking Turks, he ordered them to bring the Saint before them. Again before them, the Saint confessed Christ with great boldness. They began to tempt him to return again to islam, but the Saint denied with contempt. They condemned him to death.

His punishment began in Tyrnavo. ["The Turks shaved his head, placed him upside-down on a donkey, and led him through the town, but he rejoiced at this ridicule for the sake of Christ." (]

They straightaway brought him before the Pasha who ordered them to cripple him, cutting off his hands and feet with an axe [as St. James the Persion, according to St. Nikolai's Prologue]. The Saint extended his limbs on his own without fear on the chopping block for them to be cut, without showing any sign of pain, without even showing any expression of one suffering, as if someone else were suffering.

They left him bloody all day, and at night the Pasha ordered them to lift him up and throw him in a place where the waste ran from his house. He was still alive. In that filthy place the Saint gave up his spirit.

The Christians managed to take the holy relic and to bury it in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Immediately miracles began to occur, during the funeral and after his burial, to all those who venerated his tomb with reverence, and after the uncovering of his relics until today.
(amateur translation of the Greek text from:

Another account, along with those of many new martyrs of Orthodoxy, can be found in: Witnesses for Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period, 1437-1860 by Nomikos Michael Vaporis. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary, 2000.

For the Greek service texts of St. Gideon, see: Service (, Akathist (, Paraklesis (

Karakallou Monastery, Mount Athos
"The Holy Monastery of Karakallou stands on a hillside between the Monasteries of the Megiste Lavra and Iveron. Of the traditions concerned with its foundation, the most likely is that which makes its founder a monk of the name of Karakalas of the early 11th century. The fact that the Monastery is mentioned in a deed of the Protos Nicephorus (1018) and omitted from the Second Typikon is some indication of its troubled history.

In the 13th century, after raids of pirates and Latins, Karakallou was totally deserted. It was brought back to life by the action of the Palaeologue Emperors Andronicus II and John V and of the Patriarch of Constantinople Athanasius. The number of monks increased and the Monastery was restored. Nevertheless, it again became the victim of pirate raids. In the 16th century, with the assistance of the Prince of Wallachia John-Peter-who in the end became a monk of the Monastery-and the subsequent permission of Sultan Suleyman, the Monastery was rebuilt. In the 17th century the Monastery of St Nicholas in Ismailia was donated to Karakallou.

During the second building phase at the Monastery, older constructions were restored and additions were made, but the reconstruction of a large part of the buildings became necessary after a major fire in 1875. Karakallou took an active part in the struggles to throw off the Turkish yoke. Of its buildings, a particularly noteworth piece of work is the tower of Peter, which was built in the 16th century and is the largest of the towers on the Holy Mountain.

Karakallou occupies eleventh place among the monasteries of Athos, and has five chapels, two outlying chapels, and 18 kellia. Its katholikon is a building of the 16th century with additions in later centuries. It is dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul. The present refectory of the Monastery is a building of 1875, but its original form was much older. Included among the treasures of the Monastery are vestments and liturgical vessels, the skull of the Apostle Bartholomew and of St Christopher, and a fragment of the True Cross. The library contains 279 manuscripts and some 2,500 printed books. Today the Monastery has around 30 monks."
(taken from:{ed693ed8-3d08-46b2-a84c-66077a9e702e}View)

May St. Gideon intercede for us all and help us!

St. Gideon the New Righteous Martyr (taken from:

Απολυτίκιο. Ήχος δ’. Ταχύ προκατάλαβε.
Όσιων ισότιμος, και Αθλητών κοινωνός, και θείον αγλάισμα, της Καρακάλλου Μονής, εδείχθης μακάριε συ γαρ στερρώς αθλήσας, τον εχθρόν ετροπώσω ένθεν Οσιομάρτυς, Γεδεών εδοξάσθης, πρεσβεύων υπέρ πάντων, ημών των ευφημούντων σε.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone (amateur translation of the above Greek hymn)
Equal in honor to the Righteous, and a communicant with the Champions, and divine boast of Karakallou Monastery, you were shone O blessed one, you struggled strongly, and deposed the enemy therefore O Righteous Martyr, Gideon you were glorified, intercede for us all of us who praise you.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

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