19 Φεβ 2020

Saint Philothei of Athens (An Encomium to the Theotokos)

St Philothei of Athens (by Fikos Antonios)Biography (in English)

Saint Philothei of Athens, née Revoula Benizelos, (1545? - 1589) was a Greek Orthodox religious sister, martyr and saint from Ottoman-era Greece. Philothei was born in Athens to an illustrious and wealthy family. Against her will, she was married at the age of 14 to the noble Andrea Chila, who mistreated her. When he died in 1539, she was only 17, beautiful and wealthy and her parents insisted that she get remarried. Instead, she remained at home, spending much of her time in prayer. The family wealth gave her the opportunity for charitable work, and while still a young woman she had gained the respect and love of the community. When her parents died Philothei found herself the owner of extensive holdings. She took up the monastic life, establishing women's monasteries. 

There the young nuns taught handiwork, weaving, housekeeping and cooking. In this way, she prepared the young women who came to her for the domestic life. Philothei is primarily remembered for her abundant philanthropy. The convent had plenty of charity establishments both in Athens and on the islands of the Aegean sea. One of her more controversial activities was to buy the freedom of Greeks taken as slaves by the Ottoman Turks, especially women taken to the harems. 

She offered shelter to the young women, some pregnant. Despite being hunted by the Turks, she helped them escape secretly. Her monasteries were frequently plundered, and the farming and agricultural program, which were a basic source of sustaining her work, devastated. On 3 October 1588, four Ottoman mercenaries broke into the monastery during the evening vigil service and beat her severely. She died of her injuries on 19 February 1589.

An Encomium to the Theotokos 
Saint Philothei of Athens

The following is an encomium, written by Saint Philothei of Athens in her childhood years to the Most Holy Theotokos. It was discovered by the Byzantinist Professor Nicholos Bees (1883-1958), in a manuscript of the Monastery of the Great Cave in Kalavryta, and published in an article in 1923:

Encomium of a Child to the Most Holy Theotokos 

My all-pure Virgin and my eternal spring,
The preaching of the Prophets and the mother of the Venerables,
You were the sermon preached by the Prophets,
You are the unburnt bush, you are the holy mountain,
You are the ark, sanctified Lady,
You are also the palace, home of the King,
Where God dwelt, and put on flesh,
And accepted the cross for my sins.

I entreat you to tell Him to forgive me,
I who have done many evils and I stand in sadness.

Become, Lady, a mediator that you might liberate me,
As you have become for many a mediator and surety.

You are, my Virgin, she who was spoken of by the Prophets,
Rejoice heavenly vine, ladder of paradise,

And rejoice, unquenchable light, the rod of Aaron,
The assistant of salvation, you are the joy of the righteous,
Hope of sinners and boast of the angels,
And I hope in you that you will mediate for me.


Thanks mr John Sanidopoulos for
translate of poem St. Philothei of Athens
for Aenai.epanastasi / Sophia-Ntrekou.gr

Icon St. Philothei of Athens (by Fikos Antonios)
more icons from Fikos






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