On November 26, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates the Feast Day of Agios Stylianos, the Protector of Children.
Agios Stylianos was born in Paphlagonia of Asia Minor sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. He inherited a great fortune from his parents when they died, but he did not keep it. He gave it away to the poor according to their need, desiring to help those who were less fortunate.
This Saint proved to be a stalwart of the ascetic life. He became an example to young and old alike and was a model to be imitated. But the austerity of his ascetic life did not satisfy him and he wished to approach ever more closely to perfection. He now desired complete isolation and the strictest asceticism: that of a hermit. He bade farewell to his fellow monks in the monastery and retreated far off into the desert away from all habitation. There, in the desert, he lived in a cave.
The new phase of his ascetic life was aimed at celestial perfection. The days and nights went by with contemplation, thoughts, and prayers to the Triune God. With all his heart, he hymned God’s majesty, he sang praises to the Holy Trinity. He lived united to God Nothing disturbed his divine serenity.
The goodness and piety of the saint soon became evident to the inhabitants of Paphlagonia, and they sought him out to hear his teaching, or to be cured by him. Many were healed of physical and mental illnesses by his prayers.
Agios Stylianos was known for his love of children, and he would heal them of their infirmities. Even after his death, the citizens of Paphlagonia believed that he could cure their children. Whenever a child became sick, an icon of Agios Stylianos was painted and was hung over the child’s bed.
At the hour of his death, the face of Agios Stylianos suddenly became radiant, and an angel appeared to receive his soul.
Agios Stylianos knew that, for people to be saved, they needed to have their souls like those of little children, who are innocent. He recognised that children are little angels, which is why he wished to help them and protect them. And God, Who works miracles, granted Stylianos grace in this matter, too.
God rewarded his blessed intent and gave him the wonder-working power to cure ailing children. Mothers from near and far, hastened to him, in pain and faith, bearing sick and crippled children on their shoulders, seeking a cure for their offspring. Some walked for days on end in the wilderness to find the hermit’s cave. When they arrived, they fell at his feet with tears in their eyes, glorifying God that they had finally found the saint and asking him to cure their children.
Full of kindness and compassion, Stylianos would take the sick infants into his arms and, with tears in his eyes, beg God to cure them. The Lord of the Heavens would listen to his heartfelt prayer and the saint worked a miracle. Sick children regained their health.
But it was not only the miraculous cures of children which glorified the name of humble Stylianos. The saint acquired the reputation of wonder-worker because he helped couples conceive through his prayers. Many women fell have fallen pregnant through his intercessions. Through his blessing, many faithful Christians who had been infertile bore healthy children.
Today is also the name day of Stylianos, Styliani, Stergios, Stergia.