Saint John the Russian Prokopi Evia
Saint John the Russian was born in 1690 a.C. in Russia. His parents, faithful Christians themselves, christened their son and raised him according to the teachings of Christianity. The Saint became a faithful Christian since he was a little boy and lived his life in Christ.
When he came of age, Saint John was recruited to the Russian army. It was the time of the Russo-Turkish war. The Saint fought in this war until he was captured by the Turks and sold as slave to a Turkish official originating from the village Prokopi of Asia Minor. The Turkish official brought the Saint to Prokopi and, as it was common in those times, he tried to convince him to adopt Islam. The Saint refused steadily to do so despite the efforts of the Turkish official and in the end, with the help of God, the latter let the Saint alone to preserve his faith.
His living conditions were very hard. He was sleeping in his master’s stable with the animals he was entrusted to care. He was eating very little, his clothes were poor and he was forced to walk without shoes. The Saint used to pray in this stable and often at nights he visited a church nearby, devoted to St. George.
The grace of St. John the Russian brought blessing to the house of his master who became rich and one of the most influential men in the area. When at some time the Turkish official went to Mecca for the pilgrimage, St John sent in a miraculous way a dish or rice from Prokopi to Mecca for his master. At first they did not believe him but when the Turk came back from Mecca bringing the dish with him, they were convinced and everyone living in the area learned about the miracle.
The Turk wanted to honour the Saint and offered him better living conditions.
The Saint refused though and continued to stay in the stable, taking care of the animals. St John the Russian lived the rest of his life working at day and praying at night until May 27th, 1730 a.C. when he died at the age of 40.
His master offered his body to the Christians of Prokopi in order to bury it according to the Christian burial ritual. The Saint’s body was put in the Christian cemetery and remained there for three and a half years.
After this period, the Saint appeared in the sleep of an old Priest asking him to remove his holy relic. Every night a column of light would descend on the Saint’s tomb from the sky.
The Christians removed the Saint’s relic and placed it in a shrine under the Holy Table in the Church of St. George where the Saint used to go and pray when he was alive.The grace of the Saint made many miracles and many pilgrims would come to see his Holy Relic.
In 1834 a.C. when a large Church of Vasilios the Great was built at Prokopi, his Relic was transfered there. However the Holy Relic of the Saint would miraculously return at night to the old Church while the people would take it back to the new one during the day. After many vigils and with the consent of the Saint, the Relic was transfered permanently to the new Church.
The Saint remained in this church by 1924 a.C. After the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey that took place back then, the Holy Relic of St. John the Russian was transfered as well to the New Prokopi of Euboea where the Greeks from Prokopi at Asia Minor would settle. The transfer at New Prokopi of Euboea took place thanks to the efforts of Panagiotis Papadopoulos. The late Panagiotis Papadopoulos paid and chartered the vessel “Vasilios Destounis”, on board of which 800 patriots returned to Greece apart from the Saint’s relic.
The construction of a church devoted to the Saint began in 1930 and was completed in 1951 thanks to the contributions of many faithful Christians. This is when the Saint was transferred to the new Church and he lies there until today. Pilgrims from Greece and abroad visit this church to honour the Saint and thank him for the miracles and the blessing of his grace.
The memory of St. John the Russian is celebrated on May 27th.
He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner into Asia wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend.
Wherefore do thou beseech him that our souls be saved.