St. Xenia of Kalamata
St. Xenia of Kalamata the Great Martyr
The saints of the church, who are alive in Christ, are not only models whose lives and devotion to God we should strive to emulate, but also are intercessors to God. Individual faithful and parish communities are called upon to take a patron saint, in the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church. Early churches were built at the site of the graves of many of the Holy Martyrs. These communities were dedicated with the name of the martyr, and he or she was called upon by the community who worshiped there to act as an intercessor and protector for the faithful. Churches today place relics of the saints inside the Altar table as well as in places for veneration in the church in remembrance of these holy men and women in our lives.
About Saint Xenia of Kalamata
One of the sweetest saints in all of Orthodoxy dwelt in relative obscurity for seventeen centuries until she chose, at the bidding of God, to reveal herself to a humble priest in the bustling city of New York. This priest was Father George Nasis, the priest of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.
In one of Father Nasis customary periods of meditation and prayer there appeared before him a very lovely girl who announced herself as Xenia, a martyred saint of the Church. Not only did she reveal herself for the first time in 1700 years, but she requested of the good priest that he paint her likeness, and that in the icon her hands appear clasping a cross.
At first Father Nasis kept the incident to himself, not wanting to be ridiculed. Finally, however, he could contain himself no longer. Upon telling his superiors, scholars went in search of St. Xenia’s ancient manuscripts in a vain attempt to find her name mentioned. At long last, St. Xenia’s name was found in an ecclesiastical work where she is described as having long, golden-blond hair, blue eyes, and features which made her outstandingly beautiful. She was born in 291 in the town of Kalamata, in the Peloponnese region of Greece, and was raised with an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. At maturity, the depth of her faith outshone her physical beauty.
The Magistrate Domitianos of Kalamata was taken with Xenia, and offered her a proposal of marriage. Xenia, however, declined this proposal because Domitianos refused to accept Jesus Christ, clinging instead to the idols of the ancient past. In an effort to change Xenia’s mind, Domitianos had her jailed on spurious charges, with the stipulation that she could be released if she accepted his offer. However, when months of incarceration and abuse failed to budge the devout Xenia, she was put to death. Shortly thereafter she was sainted in recognition of the many miracles attributed to her. In the year 318 the Feast Day of May 3 was bestowed upon her.
The original icon of St. Xenia adorns the iconastasis of Annunciation Church and, for more than forty years, has been the site of miracles.
Apolytikion in the Plagal Fourth Tone
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Mother. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy Xenia, your soul rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion in the Plagal Fourth Tone
Celebrating the memorial of thy life which thou didst live as a stranger, O Xenia, and honoring thee with love, we praise Christ Who gave thee the power to grant healings to all. Ever pray to Him for us all.