Saint Irene of Chrysovalendou

We celebrate Saint Irene's day on 28th July each year.

Saint Irene was from Capadocia, the same place as Saint George the Great Martyr.When she was still very young she was promised as the bride to Michael, the son of the Empress Theodora. Irene was on her way to be married in Byzantium, when she met a hermit called Ioanikos. He prophesied to her that she would join the Convent of Chrysovalendou in Greece.When she got to Byzantium she found that Michael had married someone else. Irene was very beautiful and many requested her hand in marriage but she refused.

She gave up her inherited wealth and her imperial dowry to the poor for she was very rich,freed her slaves and entered the convent, where she served the sisters with humility and obedience.

Irene read books on the lives of the Saints and parayed all nightly. She could stand for 24 hours without movement in prayer. She prayed like this for three years. She ate bread and water, herbs or vegetables, and changed her habit every Easter. She cleaned the toilets. The devil tried to sow doubts in her mind many times but he failed.She prayed constantly. Her devotion was so great that to many she appeared to be transfixed.

When the Abbess became ill, she named Irene as her successor. The nuns went to Patriarch Methodios the Confessor for advice. He told them that she should be the new Abbess and he ordained her. She was wise,humble and in constant prayer. She loved her nuns like a mother and looked after them. Irene prayed that she may have knowledge from the Lord of the sisters impending problems and trials. He granted her this wish. A Guardian Angel appeared to her. The Angel advised Irene of future events, constantly staying at her side. Irene used this knowledge to help and guide the sisters. When the Emperor Michael died, an event predicted by Irene, she continued her ministry in the reign of his successor Basil the Macedonian.

The Miracles.

Irene performed many miracles. She healed a beautiful nun who had a spell cast on her by a magician who had been instruced to do so by her ex-fiancee.One of her relatives was accused of a plot against the Emperor. She appeared to the Emperor in a dream and told him to release her relative who was a loyal servant or he would die. She slapped the Emperor so hard that he awoke. The prisoner proved his loyalty before the Emperor and was set free. She could see into the future to predict death so she strengthend many souls.

Constant Prayers.

Irene sometimes prayed for as long as a week without ceasing. One night a nun witnessed Irene in prayer in the courtyard. She was in levitation about one metre from the ground. Two Cypress trees were bowed in homage and respect to her. When Irene left the courtyard she blessed both the trees and they returned to their previous state. Irene always celebrated the feast day of St Basil The Great as he was from her country.

The apples.

Irene was told by a voice to welcome a sailor who would bring fruit.The man turned up at the Monastery. After the Divine Liturgy she welcomed him and asked him to tell her how he came to the Monastery. The sailor was from Patinas. He joined a boat coming to the town for business. As the boat was passing the coast an old man called to it to wait. As they were near rocks, it could not stop. It went on its way. The old man called even louder. He ordered the boat to stop. It did immediately. The old man walked across the water to the boat and gave three apples to the sailor.The three apples were for Irene from the Lord's Disciple John in Paradise. The old man told the sailor to tell Irene that all that her beautful soul desired would be granted to her. The old man blessed God, wished the sailor well and disappeared. Irene cried tears of joy. She blessed the sailor and he went on his way. Irene fasted for a week. She thanked God for his great gift. She ate small pieces of the first apple daily with no other food or water for forty days. The remaining apples increased in aroma and beauty. A beautiful fragrance came from her mouth as she ate the apples. On Holy Thursday,after the nuns had received the Holy Mysteries,she gave each of the nuns a piece from the second apple. It seemed to them as if their souls had been fed after eating it. She kept the third apple until its purpose was revealed.

Her death.

Irene knew she was to die after the day of Saint Panteleimon (27th July) so she prepared herself by fasting and meditation. She drank water and ate pieces of the last apple. She ate the first bit and all enmity disappeared. The Monastery filled with a beautiful fragrance just like when she ate the first apple.She told the sisters to elect Mary as her successor. She prayed and asked God to look after her flock. Her face shone like the sun when she died. Many came to pay their respects to her in the all night vigil over her body. The monastery gates were closed and the whole place filled with a wonderful fragrance.This fragrance enveloped her grave for many years. Many miracles have occured at that site. She was over 102 years old when she died.



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Last Published:20/2/05
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