Tuesday, March 26, 2013


From our publication,"Cretan Saints" by Metropolitan Titus of Rethymnon, first translated then edited by Dr. George Christakis and Ralph Masterjohn (publisher of this blog). Page 150, "St. Menas the Great Martyr"

"In the heart of Heraklion in Crete stands the most magnificent church in the Balkans. It is the church that pious Cretans dedicated in their devotion to St. Menas the Egyptian whom they cherish as the patron saint of their city. This is not due to his origin, but rather to the assistance and protection he offered them. For the name Menas is an Egyptian name. The first Egyptian ruler was called Menas and there are seven Saints with the same name.

     During the massive slaughter of the people of Crete in WW II, St. Menas rose and fought against the Turks, who could not quell the revolutionary spirit of the Cretans. This was strengthened on the Sunday of Pascha, April 18, 1826, an opportune time. A crowd of faithful Christians named as infidels by the Turks, where worshiping in the church of St. Menas during the Resurrection or Paschal Service.

    The Church of St. Menas was then much smaller than the present church, as it was built during the Venetian rule and was known as the "small" Church of St. Menas. It is the very same church where the Turks slaughtered six Bishop of Crete and many clergy and laymen on June 24, 1821.

     Heavily armed, the Turks surrounded the small church of St. Menas. According to a prearranged plan, they set fires and burned down the outlying suburbs of Heraklion. At the moment when Metropolitan Kallinikos was reading the Gospel of the Resurrection, the din and firing of their weapons was heard. The massacre of the Christians began. It was a critical hour for Crete. But a brilliant light appeared, and like lightning illuminated the church. White-haired and venerable, St. Menas came with sword in hand to save his people. His horse, securely bearing its rider, sped through the multitude. The Saint looked sympathetically on his people and reproached the pirates. He diffused tenderness and comfort inside the Church, and lightning bolts were hurled outside at the Turks who had defiled Christian Pascha and the sanctity of that Holy Day. The Turks fled terrified and protested to the governor because St. Menas had come to break up their planned slaughter. The Agha knew nothing of what happened, and the Turks finally realized it was St. Menas who wondrously protected the Christians.

      Truly, the Saint saved the people of Heraklion. and nothing happened to anyone except for some women who had fallen and died in the midst of them, Of course the congregation fled in fear and terror, but with awe and admiration Metropolitan Kallinikos III of Anchialos completed the Liturgy by himself because even his deacon had deserted him.

      On the following day, the Metropolitan confirmed this wonder in a festive manner. It is said that the Metropolitan visited the Turkish governor and thanked him for his supposed assistance by sending his officer Aghian Agha. The Governor assured him that he sent no agha. Thus the Turks themselves confirmed and proclaimed the wondrous intervention of Saint Menas.

      Ever since this event, the marvelous and wonder presence of the Saint is celebrated by a synodical decree on Tuesday after Holy Pascha (in Bright Week). The relics of the Saint are venerated and a Liturgy is celebrated in the church of Saint. Menas. The faithful then light their candles during the reading of the Gospels an expression of gratitude because the Saint had saved them at that very hour. In fact since that time, in various areas of Crete, people light their candles during the Gospel reading.


"For three years, Axis and Allied forces chased each other over the hostile terrain of the North African desert. The tide turned in the Allies' favor at the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942. British General Montgomery spent months building up an overwhelming advantage in men and armor, before launching his attacks against Field Marshal Rommel's German and Italian troops. Follow the battle that signified 'the end of the beginning' of World War Two, as the Allies force the decisive breakthrough in the North African Campaign."

The victory over (Hitler and Mussolini) by the Allies at El Alamein (St. Menas in English) in North Africa is also attributed to Saint Menas, where the defeat of the German Army under General Rommel helped to defeat Hitler in World War II, and hastened the spread of freedom to enslaved Greece and Crete. The contribution of Greece in World War II is well known. [German forces had to be called to reverse the rout of the Italian Army by the Greeks who pushed the Italians Army back into Albania.]

The Germans forces smashed into Greece [but they were met with stiff resistance by the Greek Army for three weeks]. Many brave Greeks, though they suffered many hardships, went at great personal danger to Egypt, where St. Menas was born. There they joined the Allied Army in order to eventually free the Greek nation. General Rommel’s Army had conquered almost all of North Africa and was now headed towards Alexandria in Egypt. They reached the city of El Alamein or Saint Menas west of Alexandria, where there was then a beautiful fresco-painted Church. Here the German army prepared for the attack. And with the anticipated destruction of Alexandria and its Allied Armies, the people of that city also expected the devastation of Greece.

At midnight, on the very moment when the battle was beginning, the Germans saw Saint Menas walking on top of the ruins exactly as depicted on the murals in his Church; and the mighty troops of Hitler fell into pandemonium.

The Allies recognized the miracle, which indeed inspired the building of numerous churches in many places in Europe and Africa. In Aegina there is a Monastery, a cenobitic sisterhood founded amidst a pine forest on honor of Saint Menas. It is said that Saint Nektarios and Saint Menas had a meeting in that Church  [though they lived in different centuries]. 
Saint Menas of the third century is always contemporary for the entire Orthodox Church, but especially for Crete, since the Saint has such a sympathy for our people. And his Church is greatly honored and is a trophy fore Heraklion.

     On October 23-24 1942, the onrushing German tide was met by the British troops, who until then could not stop the relentless Panzer Divisions of the German Army under Rommel, "the Desert Fox". With the British were remnants of the glorious Greek Army, which fought to the very end the hordes of German and Italian troops who overran their homeland. Fighting alongside the British, they witnessed the turning points of World War II. which occurred on the holy ground of Saint Menas."

      This article concerning the battle of El Alamein from Cretan Saints, is also mentioned in an article in National Geographics. Therein they depicted the two battles as being the turning point for Allied victory. One was the battle of El Alamein, a simple victory as the Nazis fled in terror from St. Menas. The other was the battle of Stalingrad. The Russians repeated what they did to Napoleon. Retreat slowly until winter comes, which dissolves an army caught without a supply line. Winter was not a problem for the native Russians. As history records, the vast armies of Napoleon were left as corpses on the mountains of Russia. Concerning this, it was wondrously prophecies by St. Agathangelos in the 12th century. While on the Island of Sicily prophesied: "Frenchmen! Frenchmen! Where are you going. Your corpses will be left in the mountains." This demonstrates the perfect foreknowledge of our Lord who informs His Saints of future, for history accurately describes the fulfillment of this prophecy.

" Lord how wonderful you are in your saints!





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