The rich and historical village of Dafnes in the province of Temenous of Crete has been the birthplace of notable individuals who became the glory of their land and country. One such individual was Hosios Charalambos who lived during the last years of the Turkish occupation.
He was born at the village of Dafnes on August 3, 1723 and had three brothers. Since early childhood he showed signs of celibacy and his friends and relatives noticed that, as a child, he would retreat to a cave, during rest hours, and pray to God. His burning desire for asceticism and conscious devotion to the Commandments made him worthy of visions of the Virgin Mary. His visions led him to the monastery Kalyviani dedicated in Her memory where he became Her faithful servant. When he reached the monastery, near the Turkish occupied village of Kalyvia, he met a number of monks who were not dressed in the traditional cassock for fear of the Jenissaries. They were crypto-Christians and passed off as poor men.
As soon as the Saint established himself at the monastery he took an active role in promoting the free practice of faith, uncompromising his principles and in spite of the threats from Jenissaries. At that time, the lush and fertile valley of Messara was at the hands of the Turks. The Orthodox Christians were deprived not only of spiritual but also of corporeal nourishment. The presence of Hosios Charalambos soothed the pain, he alleviated the grief of the Christians in the area, and his intervention were very effective. Gradually the Christians acquired more and more concessions by the Turks.
The Saint served our Virgin Mother and the local population for more than twenty-five years. The indefatigable servant of our Virgin Mother's monastery begged Her mercy. The Mother of God lent a willing ear on his burning requests and fortified him to stand up against the demands and threats from the Jenissaries. On August 28, 1788, the Saint passed away at the age of 65. We became aware of the details of his arduous and manifold work by the pious nuns of the monastery. Our Church celebrates his memory on August 28 each year.
The nuns of the monastery are the best sources of information about the life and legend of Hosios Charalambos. They can tell us wonderful things, their personal experiences and about their work of love, which St. Charalambos left them as a blessing and legacy. However, we must shed our biases; we need to go through a personal purgatory. It is not enough to simply read about the lives of Saints; we must also internalise their principles. Jenissaries are lurking in the dark; they take the form of passions, idols and fads - the modern plague of our society. Actions speak better than words; therefore, the best way to pay honour to our Saints is to follow their example. We must sacrifice our ego on the altar of the common good.
from The Orthodox Messenger, v.
published bi-monthly by the SA Central Youth
PO Box 269, GLENELG SA 5045 AUSTRALIA