Ignatius of Methymna
Our father among the saints Ignatius of Methymna was the Metropolitan of the Metropolis of Mithymna, also Metropolis of Mithymnis. He was the founder of the Monasteries of Panagia Myrtidiotissa and Leimonos dedicated to the Archangel Michael, and a Wonderworker. Mithymna is an ancient name for the city on Lesbos island in Greece that is today called Mollyvos. His feast day is October 14.
John, a descendant of the family of Agallianon from Constantinople, was born in the year 1492 in the village of Faraga, which no longer exists, but which was close to the present day city of Kalloni. His father Manuel and grandfather George were priests of the Diocese of Mithymna. Where he studied is not known, but he attained much knowledge and developed a pious character with which he was able to establish and cultivate the consciences of his fellow Christians through his teaching to all with faith and virtue during the dark years of Ottoman slavery.
John married, and he and his wife had several children before he was ordained a priest. At his ordination John received the name Ignatius. Among his duties and occupations he copied books to enrich the local library as well as wrote poems. During a terrible epidemic on the island he lost his wife and children except for one child, who later became a monk with the name Methodius. Methodius continued the work of his father.
On the large estate that belonged to Manuel, Ignatius' father, stood a poor chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael and the dilapidated monastery of Myrsiniotissas that were mostly deserted. Ignatius, with great and fiery zeal, converted the land and buildings for holy purposes. Using his personal funds he repaired the rundown monastery of Myrsiniotissas and founded the monastery of Leimonos. At the site of the small chapel to the Archangel Michael, a large and radiant church arose that was needed to house both the many monks who had gathered at the monastery and also the many pilgrims who came to it.
As the monastery grew Ignatius needed to preserve it from both the rapacious disposition of the Ottoman Turks and from troublesome neighbors. He journeyed to Constantinople and in the year 1530 obtained a Patriarchal Act and firmans from the Turkish Government with which the monastery was embodied with property. For the years 1526 to 1530 Ignatius governed the monastery as abbot. But in 1531, while in Constantinople, he was elected the Metropolitan of Mithymna. When he accepted his election to the episcopate Ignatius become determined to give all his strength to the administration of the Church and, thus, delivered the care of the monastery to his son, the monk Methodius.
Under his son, the monasteries not only were spiritual centers in those difficult years, but provided centers for comfort and relief of the suffering Orthodox Greeks and schools that taught the Greek language and history and, thus, kept alive the Greek identity. In these schools, that included the Leimoniada School, Metr. Ignatius himself taught, along with Methodius, the monk scholar Pachomios Rousanos, and other learned teachers. The Leimoniada school was maintained until 1923 when the Kalloni school system was launched.
In late 1563, Metr. Ignatius submitted his resignation from the metropolitan see so that he could spend the rest of his life as a monk in the monasteries. The sainted Ignatius reposed and delivered his holy soul to God on October 14, 1566. He was buried, with deep sorrow and great honor, in the monastery of Myrsiniotissas.
In 1575, Patriarch Sylvester of Alexandria, who was a friend of Metr. Ignatius, came to Lesbos and insisted that the relics of Ignatius be uncovered, even though the Metropolitan had ordered not to open his tomb. When the tomb was opened, the assembled clergy and people witnessed myrrh and an aroma from the grave and bones which was another sign of his Holiness.
Ignatius of Methymna
|Metropolitan of Mithymna
1531 - 1563