Saint Philothei of Athens is commemorated by the Church on February 19.
The name "Philothei"
The name 'Philothei' is Greek and means 'friend of God'.
Her father was Angelo Venizelos and her mother was called Syriga.
- Angelo Venizelos.
- Many of his family survive in Athens today. The 'Venizelos' name was known for its nobility and wealth.
- She was barren. One day she entered the Church of the Mother of God and prayed for a long time with fervor. She fell asleep and had a vision in which the magnificent and radiant light emitted from the icon of the Theotokos and entered her womb. When she awoke, she decided that this vision meant her request to have a child would be fulfilled.
Overview of her life
- 1522 - Philothei of Athens was born in the in the city of Athens and named 'Revoula' (Regoula or Regille).
- 1534 - When she was twelve years old, she was courted by a leading man in the city (nobleman).
- She was pressured into marriage against her will. Vowed out of duty to continue her family honour and inheritance.
- 1537 - After three years, her husband passed away.
- This man turned out to be cruel and inhuman towards her, he would inflict her with various punishments.
- 1547 - When she was 25 yo, both of her parents died.
- As an 'orphan' this freed Revoula to begin a more austere life. She strived for abstinence, vigilance and prayers.
- In a vision one night, Revoula was visited by St Andrew the First-Called and ordered to build a convent for women in his honour.
- Revoula is tonsured with the monastic Schema at the completion of the convent and received the name Philothei.
- The Saint became known for her mercy and sympathy.
- 1589 - She had a martyric end in 1589. During the Ottoman Greece period, many women were enslaved and required to be part of the Muslim Turkish harems. During this period, some Turkish rulers of Ottoman Greece wanted to include the nuns of her convent into the harems. This conflicted with their religious beliefs and they refused to be taken captive and convert to the Muslim faith. Due to this, she received a martyric end.
- Mother Philothei was glorified as a saint by Patriarch Matthew II. In this procedure, she was called 'Righteous' only.
- Her precious relics are kept to this day at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Unfortunately, the head of the saint is missing.
Miracles of the Saint
St Philothei of Athens was worthy of performing miracles during her life.
The Convent of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called
- This convent is located at the present site of the Archdiocese of Athens, west of the church.
The second Convent founded by the Saint
St Philothei also founded another convent in the same area as the Church of St Andrew. This is located on Lefkosia Avenue in Patesia, Greece. Nowedays, the convent has been converted into a hospital for incurable diseases.
The Saints Cave
In Athens, their is a suburb called "Philothei". Their is a church in this area bearing the name of the saint. Near it, their is a small but well preserved cave surviving were the holy mother would struggle alone when she would not remain at the monastery of Patesia.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone The famed city of Athens doth honour Philothea, the righteous Martyr, whose relics it now revereth with joy; for while living in sobriety and holiness, she hath exchanged all earthly things for the everlasting life through great contests as a Martyr; and she entreateth the Saviour to grant His mercy unto all of us.
Kontakion in the Third Tone We all honour Philothea with jubilation of spirit, as this day we rev'rently worship her ven'rable relics. For she lived her whole life working kindness and mercy; and the righteous one, receiving a martyr's ending, is deemed worthy to entreat God that all be granted eternal life with the Saints.