Skopelos Island

ROCK PINE AT SKOPELOS ISLAND

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Saint Riginos was born in Livadia-Viotia,Greece at the beginning of 4th century A.C.  from pious and virtuous parents of Cypriot origin who gave him both secular and orthodox education.  His love for the Lord and his spiritual progress lead him to be a chosen vessel and give his name to the temple of Agia Triada. God claimed the Saint to miracles from his early youth, when he was still at his hometown. He was considered to be protector and healer of patients suffering from malaria and epilepsy.    

The Saint lived at the time when the two sons of Constantine the Great, Constantius in Constantinople (East) and Constans in Rome (West), reigned. Both successors of Constantine the Great were brought up with the principles of Christian Believes, however Constantius consciously accepted the principles of Arianism while Constans remained faithful to the doctrinal decisions of the First Ecumenical Synod. Common features of their religious policy were, on the one hand, the fight against the national religion and, on the other hand, the defense of the unity of the church.

Their ecclesiastic policy resulted not only in the maintenance but also in the expansion of the ecclesiastic cleavage between supporters and opponents of the First Ecumenical Synod. Either arbitrary or not, the continuous interventions in the ecclesiastical affairs were sources of tension in the Arian feud of the 4th century B.C.

Therefore the Saint was sent to the island of Skopelos from his uncle Achillios. According to some information given by the Book of the Saint Achillios, Saint Riginos followed the works of the First Ecumenical Synod in 325 A.C. together with Saint Achillios. However, although the sect of Arianism was unanimously condemned by the Holy Fathers, the follower of Arius did not disappear and instead they continued to spread their heretical misbelieves. There was once again a great turmoil within the church, crisis and thus splitting into two factions, something that highly alerted the two emperors, Constantius and Constans. Eventually the two emperors agreed to convene a new Synod in Sardica (Sofia). The Synod was indeed convened in 343 A.D. Saint Riginos, who participated in it, refuted all heresies by the reason and boldness of his opinion.

After the end of the Synod, Saint Riginos returned to Skopelos. But once again the church of God was tossed and troubled by the emperor of Constantinople Julian the Apostate (361-363 A.D.), who wanted to restore the religion of ancient Greeks.   

During the prosecution ordered by the King, the Provincial Governor of Greece and Sporades arrived in Skopelos. He immediately called the Prelate of Skopelos and suggested him to change his believes and embrace idolatry. But the Saint flouted his suggestion and insisted with intellectual prowess on the ancestral piety. On February 25, 362 A.C. he came for the last time before the District Officer. The local Governor of Skopelos tried to persuade the Saint with promises and threats to deny his believes. But when he saw his stable faith in Christ, he ordered that he be mercilessly spanked and driven to jail. On February 25, 362 A.C., Saint Riginos would come for the last time before the local Governor. Once he confessed again his faith in Christ, the local Governor ordered the executioners to blind him first and then drag him at “Palio Gefyri” (Old Bridge), where they beheaded him. According to the tradition, forty Skopelites martyred along with the Saint. After the ablation of his honorable head, pious Skopelites received his honored and tortured body and buried it with all proper honors in a hill where his tomb still exists, and next to which was later erected and still exists the monastery of Saint Riginos. In 1068, the King William of Sicily, the so-called Benign, during an invention grabbed the Sacred Relics of the Saint and carried them to Cyprus.  In fact, parts of these sacred relics are still kept in the church of Archangel Michael Trypiotis in Nicosia. In 1740, the provost Chatzikonstantis was sent to Cyprus by the Senate of Skopelos to claim for parts of the Sacred Relics of the Saint.  This was confirmed by the scholar Skopelite monk Caesarius Dapontes, who was the first biographer of the Saint, and the first hymnographer who composed the sanctuary sequence in his honor, which he published in Venice in 1746. Chatzikonstantis succeeded to bring back from Cyprus parts of the Sacred Relics of Saint Riginos, which were deposited in the monastery of Saint John the Baptist of Skopelos founded in 1612 by the monk Symeon and declared stavropegic in 1619. The deposition of the sacred relics of the Saint in the monastery of Prodromos was held in 1740, while in 1741 his image was painted and placed in the temple of Virgin Mary (the Liberator) in the town of Skopelos, dependency of the monastery, and where it still stands. In 1833 the monastery of Prodromos was destroyed in accordance with the relevant decree and the relics of the glorious martyr of Christ-Saint Riginos- were transferred to the cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Skopelos, and they are kept there until today.

On July 15, 1998 the first Sacred Pilgrimage Temple of Saint Riginos was founded in the town of Livadia by the Reverend Metropolitan of Thebes and Livadia Hieronymous (now Archbishop of Athens and all Greece). The biggest blessing for the Boeotian Land was the arrival of a part of the Sacred relics of the Saint on October 16, 1999 from the Great Island of Cyprus.     

 The hymnography that has been composed in Saint Riginos is rich too, since apart from the canticle service of Caesar Daponte, the chanter Ioannis Drakiotis, who was also major of Skopelos and an intellectual of the 19th century, made praise, hyms and blessings in honor of the Saint, while Dr. Charalambis Bousias, the great hymnographer of Alexander Church, made a Supplicatory Canon and welcoming houses, as well as sequence for the disinterment of part of the sacred relics of the Saint in Livadia, where there is a Holy Pilgrimage Temple bearing the same name. Canticle Service and Welcoming Houses in honor of Saint Riginos have been made by the monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, this charismatic hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ.

The memory of the glorious holy martyr Saint Riginos is celebrated on February 25, and on his memorial day a great festival is held in Skopelos with the participation of the bishop, Reverend Metropolitan of Chalkida, Istiaia  and North Sporades, Mr. Chrysostom, and crowd of pious Christians. On the eve of the feast of the patron Saint of Skopelos, February 24, the relics of the Saint are transferred from the holy metropolitan church Nativity of the Christ to Saint Riginos Monastery, which was renovated in 1728 and is located 4 kilometers from the town of Skopelos. In the new beautiful stone built temple of the Saint which was founded in the Sunday of Myrrhbearers (April 24, 1966) the celebratory prelate vespers are sung, while in the morning of the name day in memory of the Saint- February 25- the matins are chanted and then the Celebratory Prelacy Liturgy is celebrated.

Consequently, the litany illustrated in 1712 of old image of the Saint and his sacred relics from the monastery of Saint Riginos up to the Metropolitan Church of the Nativity of Christ. During the litany, the Praise and the Supplication in honor of the Saint are chanted, while at “Old Bridge”, where the beheading of the Saint took place, and a commemorative column in the form of shrine-known as Saint Riginakis too-has been constructed, a prayer for the Skopelites around the world is addressed. It is remarkable that all people coming from Skopelos living in Athens celebrate Saint Riginos every year at the Church of Agios Athanasios in Thisio, where there is a shrine with the image of the miraculous Saint, while at the church of Holy Trinity in Peristeri there is a chapel in honor of his name.

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Skopelos Chora

Skopelos Island-37003

Greece

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