Seraphim of Phanarion
Seraphim was born to Sophronios and Maria in the village of Mpizoula in the Agrapha region of Greece during the mid sixteenth century. His family was pious and reared him in the Orthodox faith. After he came of age, he entered the monastic life at the Monastery of the Theotokos in Korona, receiving the name Seraphim. As he grew in spiritually, he also entered the holy orders being ordained a presbyter. Upon the death of his abbot, he was elected to succeed him as head of the monastery.
In 1587, Fr. Seraphim was elected archbishop of Phanarion and Neochorion, the see thaving become vacant when its incumbent died. As archbishop, Seraphim was a true shepherd to all the Orthodox Christians entrusted to his care, nurturing and caring for them in every possible way.
In 1601, the metropolitan of Larissa named Dionysius the Philosopher mistakenly thought he could expel the Muslim forces in the Ioannina area. After raising an army of ill-equipped and ill-trained villagers, they attacked and killed many Muslims in the area. The rebellion was savagely suppressed when Muslim reinforcements arrived killing those involved in the rebellion and taking revenge on many innocent Christian villagers as well. After a second rebellion Metr. Dionysios himself was captured, tortured, and horribly executed.
In this turbulent atmosphere, Abp. Seraphim was compelled by duty to go to Phanarion to pay the taxes owed to the Ottoman government. Some Muslims, who knew of his good work among the Orthodox Christians and wished him harm, observed him in Phanarion. They began to agitate among themselves, saying Seraphim had been with Dionysios and was a rebel, a subversive, and a traitor. They accosted and threatened him unless he abandoned his faith and become a Muslim.
Abp. Seraphim responded that they knew he was innocent of the accusation and that he would not leave his faith to escape death and thus leave Jesus, his God and Creator, especially now when he suffered unjustly, and that he hoped because of this to receive from his Master more honor. Then, of their honors, he did not even want to hear of them.
The Muslims then took Seraphim, dragged him before the vali, whose name was Hamuza Bey, and accursed him as being with Dionysios and thus was an enemy and a traitor. Hamuza Bey repeated the offer that Abp. Seraphim become a Muslim. To which Seraphim reiterated that he was innocent and would not be separated from his Master and God Jesus Christ and that he was ready for anything the Bey had within his power.
Hearing this, the Bey ordered Seraphim beaten mercilessly. Seraphim endured everything as though suffering no pain, thanking and blessing God. He was then put into prison where he was given no food or drink in an attempt to break him.
After Abp. Seraphim was again confronted by the Bey, with Seraphim continuing his firm stand against him, Hamuza Bey ordered Abp. Seraphim tortured and then impaled
After his death, Seraphim’s body remained upon the stake longer than usual to serve as an example to the Orthodox Christians in the area, and to frighten them into submission. But Abp. Seraphim’s martyrdom had the opposite effect. It gave Orthodox Christians courage and hope, for they thanked God for strengthening the archbishop to make such a good confession of faith.
Later, Seraphim’s head was cut off and sent to Phanarion together with the heads of other clergymen who were also executed as a result of the activities of Metr. Dionysius.
The Orthodox Christians of Phanarion felt the need to recover the archbishop’s head. They, therefore, found an Albanian Orthodox Christian to whom they promised a reward if he were to recover the head. The Albanian was successful, but before he could escape entirely, he was detected and was pursued by the Muslims. Afraid of being caught at one point, the Albanian threw the head in the Peneios River. Seeing this, the Muslims gave up the pursuit. Days later the head was recovered by fishermen who took it to the Dousikon Monastery. Later, the head was brought to the Monastery of the Theotokos in Korona, Seraphim’s own monastic house.
Abp. Seraphim of Phanarion and Neochorion gave his life in the town of Phanarion for the love of Jesus Christ, on December 4, in the year 1601.
- [] Archbishop Seraphim of Phanarion and Neochorion