It’s Our Neighbours Patron Saint Day – December 17 Saint Dionysios (Saint Dennis) of Zakynthos

Saint Dionysius was born in 1547 AD. in the village of Aigialos in Zakynthos. His world name was Draganigos or Gradynigos Sigouros (or Sikouros). His family was wealthy and owned large tracts of land, while his parents participated in the Venetian wars against the Turks and acquired an aristocratic idiom. His father’s name was Mokios and his mother Pavlina, while he had two other brothers, Constantine and Sigura. A

Saint Dionysius was brought up with the teachings of the Gospel. So he quickly distinguished between letters and virtue. Early on, when he was an adult, he was engaged in the teaching of divine speech, at the same time ensuring the relief of the poor. He then became a monk in the royal monastery of Strophades, named Daniel, where he practiced vigilance, moderation, and the study of the Scriptures.

Later Dionysius will be ordained a priest despite his initial reservations about the heavy responsibility of the priesthood, by the Bishop of Cephalinia and Zakynthos, Theophilos. Then, in 1577 AD, he went to Athens to find a boat to travel to Jerusalem. But the then high priest of Athens, Nicanoras, heard his sermon some Sunday and, after many pleas, made him bishop of Aegina, with the official approval of the Church of Constantinople, giving it the name Dionysius.

His pastoral duties he performed vigilantly and unobtrusively. He became a teacher, father and educator of his flock. His fame had spread everywhere, but he remained simple and humble.

However, he became ill with many troubles and resigned. He returned to Zakynthos, where until 1579 AD. he was a temporary bishop. After that he retired to the Monastery of Theotokos of Anafonitria, where he practiced and lovingly preached and assisted the islanders.

The Siguru and Mondino families from rescued documents listed in the Venice archives appear to have had lethal hatred. Clashes between the two families continued to occur. In one of them, Saint’s brother Constantine was assassinated. However, in an attempt to escape Constantine’s killer, he sought refuge in the monastery where Saint was, but without knowing his kinship. When the killer arrived at the monastery, he was asked by Dionysius, who was the abbot of the monastery, why he was seeking refuge, since he was not normally allowed to enter. He replied that he was being chased by the Cigars, and after repeated questions he confessed to killing Constantine Sigouros. Despite his sadness, Dionysius not only hid the killer but also escaped. In this way he managed to prevent one more crime and at the same time to give the killer the opportunity to repent, despite the bitterness of his brother’s loss, setting an example of forgiveness and high application of Christian ideals. For this reason it was also called “Saint of Apology”.

Dionysius died at a very old age, December 17, 1622 AD. He was buried in the Monastery of Strofades and during his exhumation his remains were fragrant and flammable.

His Holiness was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1703, but on the island because of his life and his remains he was honored as a saint much earlier.

On August 24, 1717 AD moved his Septo Scene to Zakynthos to protect him from pirates. Initially he was kept in the Holy Temple of the Monastery of Metohio, in the suburb of Kalliteros. In 1764 AD It was permanently deposited in its homonymous monastery, built by the Monks of Strophades. Since then, its September Stage has been a pole of attraction for thousands of pilgrims and a source of constant healing and miracles.

The proclamation of St. Dionysius as Protector of Zakynthos, instead of the Virgin Mary of Skopiotissa and St. John the Baptist, was made by the Zakynthos Community after 1758 AD. and before 1763 AD, when the Venetian Senate approved the decision of Predictor Zakynthos Francis Manolessos to recognize it as an official day of December 17th of each year. Until then, the Anniversary of the Dormition of Saint Dionysius (December 17), instituted by the Synodical Exhibition of 1703, was celebrated informally, with the liturgy in the city of the Holy Lipsan and a festival. It was also set to be officially celebrated on the 24th of August, the anniversary of the removal of the Sacred Lipsan from Strofadia to Zakynthos, with a feast and liturgy of the Patriarch in the city.

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