Venerable Theoctiste of Lesvos
Saint Theoctiste was born in the city of Methymna on the island of Lesvos. She was orphaned from a young age and was sent by her relatives to a monastery to be raised. Growing up in piety and prayer, the young Theoctiste lived true to her name, which in Greek means “built by God”. When she was only eighteen years old, Arab pirates invaded and took the young nun and all those with her as captives. The pirates sailed to the island of Paros where they anchored in order to examine the women to price them and sell them as slaves. The brave Theoctiste managed to flee and found an abandoned church of the Most Holy Theotokos in the wilderness. Here she spent the next 35 years of her life living off sunflower seeds and prayer. One day, some hunters were searching the wilderness for prey when one of the men stumbled on the old church. He went inside to pray and saw a worn old woman, barely recognisable as human, hiding in the dim corner. As he approached, she forbade him to come any closer as she had no clothes, for they had withered away over the years. He gave her his cloak and she related to him her story. For the whole time she lived there, she had never been able to receive Holy Communion, and requested him on his return to bring her the Holy Gifts. A year later, the hunter returned and provided the venerable one with the Holy Gifts. Theoctistie fell to the floor in prayer and tears and received the Body and Blood of Christ. The next day, the hunter came back to find her body reposed in peace in the church. He reverently buried her body in a shallow grave he dug, and as a blessing, he cut off her hand to take with him. When the men went to sail back home, they were met by a turbulent sea and were brought back to the very place where they started. The hunter realised that the saint wanted her holy relic to remain with her, and took it back and buried it. The ship then sailed with ease and unhindered. On the way, he related to the rest of the men what had happened, and they decided to return to venerate the holy relics. Upon their arrival to the grave, to their surprise, they found the grave empty – the Venerable Theoctiste’s body had been translated to heaven.
Ἦχος γ’. Τὴν ὡραιότητα.
Ἡ Λέσβος βλάστημα, θεῖον σὲ κέκτηται, τοὶς δὲ ἀγώσι σου, Πάρος ἠγίασται, καὶ τῷ σκήνει τῷ σεπτῷ, πεπλούτισται Ἰκαρία. Ὅθεν ὡς παρθένον σε, καὶ Ὁσίαν γεραίρομεν, καὶ ἐπιβοώμεθα, τὴν θερμὴν προστασίαν σου, ἣν δίδου τοὶς βοώσι σοι Μῆτερ, χαίροις Ὁσία Θεοκτίστη.
Ἦχος πλ. α΄. Τὸν συνάναρχον Λόγον.
Τῆς Μηθύμνης τόν γόνον καί θεῖον βλάστημα καί Παρίων τό κλέος καί τό ἐντρύφημα, Θεοκτίστην τήν Ἁγίαν εὐφημήσωμεν. Χαίροις βοῶντες πρός Αὐτήν, καλλιπάρθενε ἀμνάς καί Νύμφη τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου, ὧ καί πρεσβεύεις ἀδιαλείπτως τοῦ σωθῆναι τάς ψυχάς ἡμῶν.
Ἦχος πλ. δ’. Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ.
Τῆς ἐγκρατείας τὴν τρυγόνα τὴν φιλέρημον Καὶ παρθενίας τὴν ὑψίκομον κυπάρισσον Θεοκτίστην εὐφημήσωμεν τὴν Ὁσίαν. Ὑπὲρ φύσιν ἐν τῇ Πάρῳ γὰρ ἀσκήσασα Ἐκκλησίας κατεφαίδρυνε τὸ πλήρωμα· Ἧ βοήσωμεν, χαίροις Μῆτερ ἰσάγγελε.