Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
Kristus (ir) augšāmcēlies! Patiesi viņš ir augšāmcēlies!
St. Sophia the Righteous, the “Ascetic of the Panagia Kleisoura”
Commemorated on May 6th
Sophia Saoulidi, the “ascetic of the Panagia”, was born of Amanatiou and Maria Saoulidi in a village of Trebizond in Pontus of Asia Minor in 1883. She was also married there years later in 1907 to Jordan Hortokoridou, but after seven years her husband disappeared (likely not of his own will) in 1914 and she was left with a newborn son who soon thereafter died. These tragedies helped shape her piety and repentant spirit, making her rely solely upon God. Her asceticism began in Pontus on a mountain away from her relatives. It was there that one day Saint George appeared to her and warned her to notify the villagers of a coming persecution and to flee, and in this way she saved the village.
Her soul breathed Christ and the Panagia with her simple and humble love. “One is the Lord and one is the Lady”, she would say of Christ and the Panagia, “the rest of us are all siblings.”
She was a teacher of the simple, especially of women, and every word that came from her lips was spoken with humility and love. As with many “fools for Christ” of the past, the proud and the educated didn’t recognize her worth as much as those who possessed simple and humble hearts.
She came to Greece in 1919 as an exile. The name of the ship that carried her was Saint Nicholas, so when they arrived in Greece the Panagia appeared to her and said: “Come to my house.” Sophia asked: “Where are you and where is your house?” The Panagia responded: “I am in Kleisoura.” Therefore she went and settled at the Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos in Kleisoura of Kastoria when she was 44 years old.
In 1967 Sophia became very sick and was in great pain. Her stomach had open sores that smelled. She took the pain courageously, saying: “The Panagia will come to take away my pain. She promised me.” Some Athenians have her on videotape explaining what happened soon thereafter:
“The Panagia came with the Archangel Gabriel and Saint George, as well as other Saints. The Archangel said: ‘We will cut you now’. I said: ‘I am a sinner, I must confess, receive communion, then you can cut me’. ‘You will not die’, he said, ‘we are doing a surgery on you’, and he cut me open.”
By the command of the Panagia, Sophia lived within the fireplace of the Monastery in the kitchen, which was also used to cook the food. She would sleep there two hours a night and the rest of the night pray on her knees…At the window she would always have a candle lit before the fresco of the Panagia.
Her fasting was constant and only allowed herself oil on the weekends. She cared little for what she ate, eating only to survive, and cared less about cleanliness so that she would even eat food without washing them. She saw many scandalous things done by priests and lay people, but never criticized anyone. “Cover things, so that God will cover you”, she would say.
“The angels speak every day. God sends the angels to see if people are repenting.”
“The Panagia weeps, she weeps every day. She says to her Son: ‘My Son and my God, grant the world wisdom, forgive the world.'”
“Let the mouth become basil and a rose.”