Athens, November 22, 2022
Hundreds of Orthodox faithful began flocking from early Sunday afternoon to the Church of St. Philothea in the Filothei suburb of Athens to venerate the holy relics of the 16th-century ascetic and martyr who is revered as the Heavenly protectress of the capital city.
Her relics were brought from the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens to the church bearing her name in honor of the 500th anniversary of her birth, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
The official reception at the Crypt of St. Philothea was attended by several hierarchs and representatives of local and federal authorities. After a short prayer in the crypt, her reliquary was then placed in the center of the church and the hierarchical Great Vespers was celebrated.
The relics remained in the church for the Orthros and Liturgy the next morning, and Vespers that evening, after which they were returned to the Athens cathedral.
In February 2017, a museum arranged in St. Philothea’s family home was officially opened.
Photo: pravoslavie.ru St. Philothea was born in Athens in 1522 to a wealthy family. She was forced to marry at 14, but when her husband died when she was but 17 she entered upon a life of prayer and charitable work. Her parents died in 1549 and she became to sole owner of their holdings.
She took up the monastic life and the name Philothea, opening St. Andew’s Monastery around 1551, where the nuns taught handiwork, weaving, housekeeping, and cooking, to help young women prepare for domestic life. The monastery had several philanthropic establishments throughout Athens and the islands of the Aegean sea, including hospices, homes for the elderly, and schools for the children of Athens.
She is also known for buying the freedom of Greeks taken as slaves by the Ottomans, offering them shelter, and helping them escape to freedom. She also founded a second monastery at Patesia. The habitations were frequently plundered and their agricultural programs destroyed.
As her fame grew, so did the Ottomans’ hatred for her. On October 3, 1588, four Ottoman mercenaries broke into the monastery at Patesia during Vigil and beat her so severely that she died a martyr’s death a few months later on February 19, 1589.