St Athanasius of Paros
(Commemorated 24 June)
Born to devout parents in the small village of Kostos on the island of Paros in 1722, St Athanasius was educated in Smyrna at the Athonite Academy under two of the greatest scholars of that age: Neophytus of Kavsokalyvia and Eugenius Voulgaris. He became known for his study of Holy Scripture and preaching, and soon became a teacher at the Academy. He was then appointed to head the School of Thessalonica where he shone because of his faith in God, which showed in his sermons.
Because of a plague, St Athanasius went to the island of Corfu where he studied further in philosophy, physics, and rhetoric. When he returned, he was named Dean of the Athonite Academy by the Patriarchate, and was ordained a priest against his will by St Macarius of Corinth. In this role he led a restoration of Orthodox spirituality alongside St Nicodemus the Hagiorite, and other fathers known as the “Kollyvades.”
This movement opposed the commemoration of the departed on Sundays, promoted the frequent partaking of Holy Communion, and defended against a secular spirit entering the Orthodox Church. The Kollyvades were slandered, removed from office, and exiled. In response St Athanasius wrote a defence so convincing that he was declared innocent. He returned to Thessaloniki and was offered the position of Director of the Patriarchal School of Constantinople, and an episcopal position, but he refused.
After this he went to the island of Chios to find solitude but was prevailed upon to teach there. St Athanasius directed the Philosophy School of Chios until 1812, giving it a reputation that attracted students from around the Mediterranean world. In his old age, he retreated to a monastery to pray and continue his writing. There he was seized by a stroke and reposed a few days later on 24 June 1813. His cell was found to contain only a simple old habit, a lamp and an inkstand.
Source: Lychnos June-July 2020 edition