Achilles, Bishop of Larissa
Commemorated on May 15
Achilles was born in Cappadocia (in modern day Turkey) of devout and noble parents who afforded him a good education. Through fasting and vigils, he made constant progress, guarding his heart from worldly troubles and cares. He acted in a simple manner and always spoke gently. Still young at the time of his parents’ death, Achilles gave away his fortune and set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He sought the company of those closely acquainted with God as he visited monasteries in the desert near Jerusalem.
Achilles then went to Rome. While he was venerating the tomb of the Apostles, he suddenly received the gift of Divine Foresight. He began to spread the message of Christ with such power that he brought scores of pagans to the Truth and healed many of their sickness. After travelling extensively, like a new apostle, Achilles finally came to Larissa in Thessaly, Greece. He was there made bishop, and administered his diocese with exceptional care; in both spiritual affairs and in the material assistance he offered to the poor, the sick and strangers. Achilles’ prayers put an end to droughts and his prophesies warned of invasions. He made himself all things to all men for the attainment of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In 325, Emperor Constantine summoned Bishop Achilles to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. There, Achilles courageously denounced the Arian heresy, sealing his profession with a miracle. Taking a rock, he cried out, “If Christ is the creation of God, let oil flow from this rock”. The Arians remained silent, astonished at his demand. Achilles continued: “If the Son of God is equal to the Father, let oil flow from this rock”, and it was so.
Emperor Constantine, in great admiration offered the Saint costly gifts, which Achilles immediately distributed to the poor. In 330, Saint Achilles died in Larissa, where he has been venerated for centuries as the patron of the city.
Source: April – May 2016 Lychnos Edition