Hagios Philomenos – פילמנוס הצדיק

Hagios Philomenos – פילמנוס הצדיק

On this Sunday 29/16 of November, the Rum Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem commemorated the martyrdom of Fr. Philomenos, of blessed memory, a member of the Holy Sepulcher Brotherhood and a monk-priest who had come to serve in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem from Cyprus .He was quite old when he got murdered in 1979 at the Jacob’s Well Monastery (Orunta) in Samaria (West Bank). I had discussed the matter when the Patriarchate of Jerusalem decided to canonize him after the Church of Cyprus had canonized him years beforehand. As discussed by Yisca Harani and David Gurevich in a short widely dispatched note in the Israeli society, the matter has been ocnsidered as a bit confused. The fact that the Monk-Pirest had been murdered or even slaughtered in a horrible way whatsoever justified that he could be canonized for having been killed especially due to his witnessing to Jesus Christ. This is a common view and opinon, the tradition position esp. in the Middle-East. On the other hand, a lot of Cypriote monks did arrive in Israel or rather to Jordan at that time and after 1967 they came to live in Israeli society without really being in contact with the people of whatever stand, acitvities or background. This is why Saint Philomenos is certainly a saint, a martyr provided that this does not again and again would support the real anti-Semitic trend of the people where he lived, the opposition he himself gave as a witness to the Jews or the settlers. He has deep problems with the Muslims and the way he was killed definitely not corresponds to any manner used by the Jewish settlers.

On the other hand, he became, certianly against his own will, a special witness to the tragedgies of our generation. When I go down to the Patriarchal Monastery St. Constantine and Elena church, I face his icon that is venerated by all the monks. It is a sign. It cannot become a sign of phyletism and opposition against the Jews (one icon show the monk-priest being slaughtered by a man dressed in a typical Western settler’s way. It would lead to confusion.

Three years ago, while lecturing at the Swedish Center at Jaffa Gate in the presence of John Tleel, the living memory of the Patriarchat of Jerusalem, we had been attacked as anti-Semitic people by an Anglican pro-Arab young leader. I strongly protested that we have to be very careful with these matters, that the text in Greek of the declaration of the sainthood of Fr. Philomenos finally intended not to cause any trouble but rather perceive things with faith in an embattled context. It would be vain to use his name for political reasons (esp. supporting the Palestinian movements). He was a man of his generation, mainly reflecting as a Cypriote Greek priest, not really prepared to face the new reshaping structures as they show in the Middle-East. Lord, Have mercy.

In category : Synodical Decisions — @ 20:36

The Holy Church of Christ in Jerusalem, founded on the divine-flowing blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, poured on Golgotha for the remission of sins and for the salvation of human kind, bore martyrs in its bosom, whose blood was shed as an offering and reciprocation of gratitude and love to Christ, who was willingly Crucified for them, and Resurrected from the dead.

First of these martyrs is the ‘proto martyr’ and archdeacon Stephanos who, like his Saviour, had his life taken while praying for those who stoned him (Acts 7, 60). Following him was Saint Jacob, the son of Zevedeos and brother of Evangelist Ioannis, whom “Herod the King killed with a sword” (Act. 12, 1-2). After him was Saint Jacob, the Lord’s brother and first Archbishop of the Church of Jerusalem, who was thrown from the ledge of the Temple, by the deniers of the Lord, and died as a martyr, praying for his persecutors. In his footsteps, his relative and heir to the Throne, Bishop of Jerusalem Simeon, in the days of Emperor Traianos, was tortured and crucified in Pella of Jordan, at the age of a hundred and twenty.

The apostolic period of the Church of Jerusalem is dignified by these four glorious spiritual jewels, but not less than the post-apostolic period of the Church, which is dignified by the beheaded Jerusalemite martyr Prokopios, by the Gaza martyrs Timotheos, Agapios and Thekla, by the beheaded martyr Pamfilos the founder of the Library of Caesarea, by the beheaded Promos and Elias in Askalon, Paul of Imneia, and by others true and admirable who were mercilessly tortured and died in martyrdom under the ruthless persecution of Diocletianos, in almost every city in the Holy Land of which ” time would fail us to tell”(Heb. 11, 32).

In this august chorus of martyrs of the first centuries in the life of the Church, who refused to denounce Christ, are also those who were persecuted during the following centuries in the name of Christ, for the truth and integrity of our Orthodox faith, such as the Patriarch of Jerusalem Zacharias who was abducted to Persia with the Holy Cross, and the Fathers of Saint Sabas monastery, who were slaughtered by the Persians.

In this holy charter are included the monks of the Order of Spoudeai who strove and gave their souls in defending the Holy Shrines, the tangible testimonies and proof of the earthly presence of our Saviour Jesus Christ. These included the notable by virtue and holiness, Patriarch of Jerusalem Leondios and the ever memorable member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre Archimandrite Filoumenos, Superior of the Holy Monastery of Jacob’s Well, who lived in our times.

He originated from Orounta, of the saint-giving island of Cyprus and arrived in Jerusalem at a young age, having from his devout parents an education and admonition of the Lord. He was also a novice monk at the Holy Monastery of Stavrovouni. He studied at the Patriarchal School, where he was distinguished and praised for his diligence and good ethos. Graduating from the school, he was ordained a schema monk and was integrated into the Order of Spoudeai, the guardians of the Holy and Vivifying Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a monk, he showed righteous imitation of the Saints and of the God-bearing Fathers of the Church. He was punctual in the everyday reading of the prayers and Church services, demonstrated temperance, fasting and frugality. When called upon to the axiom of priesthood by the Mother of Churches and he accepting, he proved to be a true steward of the mysteries of Christ to his commissioning to various holy shrines and in serving the flock as a Superior of: the Holy Monastery of the Saint Apostles of Tiberias, Superior of the Holy Monastery of Archangel Michael in Jaffa, Superior of the Holy Monastery of the Archangels in Jerusalem, director of the dormitory of the Patriarchal School, Superior of the Holy Convent of Saint Theodosios the superior of the cenobic life, Superior of the Monastery of the Prophet Elias and responsible for rite of the church ceremonies at the Monastic Church of the Brotherhood of Saints Constantine and Helen, Superior of the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ramallah, and lastly as Superior of the Holy Monastery of Jacob’s Well in Nablus of Samaria.

He served at this “Jacob’s well” (John 4, 6) “In spirit and truth” (John 4, 23), fulfilling the verses of the Lord’s spoken commandment, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” (John 4, 24) and although often threatened by a heterodox fanatic visitor to abandon the shrine, he never did.

He was at the Chapel of Jacob’s Well performing the regular Vesper service, on the afternoon of 16th/29th November of 1979, when due to the hatred of the devil who hates good, he was deviously and violently attacked by a vile man who, with an axe, opened a deep cut across his forehead, cut off the fingers of his right hand and upon escaping threw a grenade which ended the Father’s life.

The fragments of the grenade and drops of his blood left traces and stigmata that are still visible to this day on the walls of the Chapel, as an eternal memory of his martyrdom, crowning his sacred life. His life and his death is a confession of faith, a confession of blood, at the place where the Lord revealed to the Samaritan woman who said to Him “I know that Messiah is coming, He who is called Christ” (John 4, 25) by telling her “I who speak to you am he” (John 4, 26). Through his martyrdom he became a co-martyr with Saint Fotini the Samaritan, her sons and sisters. The central church is named in honour of her while the southern chapel within the church is dedicated and named after Saint Filoumenos, wherein his sacred relics are present and are a source of strength and healing to the faithful devotees who honour him. He is also a co-martyr with Saint Ioustinos the Philosopher and Martyr, who originates from Nablus, and is honoured in the northern chapel within the church.

Since Saint Filoumenos’ death and martyrdom and from signs of God testified by people, he was already established as a martyred saint in the conscience of many honourable members of the church. Today, after the completion of thirty years since the day of his martyrdom, based on the Synodic decision of Our Holy and Sacred Synod, we officially place in the Synaxarion, the celebration of this new hieromartyr on this day of his martyrdom, 16th/29th of November each year, to the benefit of the souls and to the glory of Our Holy Triune God.

Today we announce this sacred ecclesiastical event to the congregation of the Church of Zion, and the sister Orthodox Churches so that from now onwards, they eternally celebrate the memory of the new hieromartyr Filoumenos with the intercessions of whom we may find grace and mercy so that with one voice and one heart we offer glory and praise to the glorified Holy Triune, our God who is glorified in His Saints.

Holy City of Jerusalem, September 11th 2009.


Patriarch of Jerusalem

Metropolitan of Caesarea Vasilios

Metropolitan of Ptolemais Palladios

Metropolitan of Capitolias Issychios

Metropolitan of Eleftheroupolis Christodoulos, Elder Dragouman

Metropolitan of Philadelphia Venedictos

Metropolitan of Avila Dorotheos

Archbishop of Mt. Tabor Methodios

Archimandrite Kelladion, Elder Kamarasis

Archimandrite Ioustinos

Archimandrite Theodoritos

Archimandrite Hilarion

Archimandrite Timotheos

Archimandrite Evdokimos

Archimandrite Demetrios, Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod

Archimandrite Galaktion

Archbishop of Constantina Aristarchos, Elder Chief Secretary


Philoumenos of Jacob’s Well: New Martyr and the Modern Anti-Semitism
Yisca Harani and David Gurevich

The false accusations of Jews committing a ritual murder of Christians, inclusive Crucifixion murder, are known from the Middle Ages. While those were considered mostly obsolete in the age of enlightenment, this paper discusses a study case of such accusation in the present time in scope of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Archimandrite Philoumenos was murdered in the Jacob’s Well Greek Orthodox church (Nablus) in 1979. After four years, his remains were exhumed from the grave and were found “incorrupt and producing sweet scent”. Thus started the veneration of the relics. Philoumenos was glorified as Saint in 2009. The Synodic decision defines the murderer as a “heterodox fanatic visitor” and a “vile man”. This paper focuses on the birth of a New Martyr in the light of the present geopolitical situation. Perhaps the fact that the murderer was a Jewish observant person, served a basis for a narrative which has a clear Antisemitic character. According to it, the event was of ritual murder performed by a ‘Zionist’ group. The Saint was told to be smashed in a cross form using axe, his eyes were said to be plucked out and his right hand fingers were cut to prevent the Sign of the Cross. Such description is delivered by the site’s authorities, it is to be found in materials provided to pilgrims and is frequent in the online sources. The murder is often presented in the scope of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the victim is depicted trying to prevent the so-said conversion of the Christian Holy Site by radical Jews / Israeli settlers. However, the study of unpublished materials made by the authors dismisses any “ritual” basis of the event and traces to its origins.


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