Venerable Arsenius of Paros

Today the Church commemorates the uncovering of the relics of Saint Arsenius of Paros (1800-1877), who was glorified by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1967.

The main Feast of St Arsenius, “the glory of Epirus and the boast of Paros,” is on January 31.

St Arsenius and his Elder stayed on Mount Athos for six years before being forced to leave by ignorant monks who were against the Kollyvades movement. The Kollyvades called for a strict adherence to holy Tradition, opposed performing memorial services on Sundays, and believed that Christians should receive Holy Communion more frequently than four times a year. They also practiced unceasing prayer of the heart (hesychasm), which was misunderstood by many people of that time. Some of the Athonite monks, in their ignorance, were highly critical of the Kollyvades, insulting and mistreating them, and forcing them into exile.

Fr Daniel and St Arsenius left Athos when the anti-Kollyvades sentiments against frequent Communion were particularly intense. This was just before the start of the Greek War of Independence on March 25, 1821. After a brief stay at the Penteli Monastery near Athens, the two went to the island of Paros. Unable to remain there, they ultimately settled on the island of Pholegandros.

Since there were no teachers on the island, the inhabitants asked Fr Daniel to permit Fr Arsenius to teach their children. The Elder agreed to their request, and also had Fr Arsenius ordained a deacon by the Metropolitan of Thira. After his ordination, the Greek government appointed Fr Arsenius as a teacher. His teaching career lasted from 1829 to 1840.