Hieromartyr Philoumenos

Martyred at Jacob's Well in Nablus (ancient Samaria, cf. Jn.4) on Nov.16/29, 1979.

On 17/30 November, Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem, accompanied by various Greek bishops, archimandrites, clergymen and monastics, opened the grave of Archimandrite Philoumenos, who was brutally murdered at Jacob's well four years before (1979).

The coffin was reverently removed from its grave in the cemetery of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre on Mount Sion, and, when the shroud was lifted of, the relics were found to be substantially incorrupt. The remains were rinsed with wine, and then wrapped in a sheet. A short requiem service was then chanted.

Archimandrite Philoumenos was the guardian of the Greek Orthodox Monastery at the shrine over Jacob's Well in the town of Nablus on the West Bank. He lived in sanctity and served as a faithful steward of Jesus Christ, possessed of a flaming zeal for Orthodoxy.

His virtue was such [as] to distinguish him among the monks and clerics of the Holy Land. It is known that shortly before his martyrdom Archimandrite Philoumenos was approached by a group of militant Jewish fanatics who demanded that he remove the Cross and icons from the vicinity of Jacob's Well, since it is a holy site of their religion and they refused to pray there in the presence of such symbols of the Christian religion. This he refused to do, maintaining that Jacob's Well had been in the hands of Orthodox Christians for centuries. He was then threatened and told to leave the shrine or suffer the consequences.

On November 16/29, 1979 (St Apostle Matthew's Day) while a torrential rain was falling, [the murderers] burst into the monastery and with a hatchet butchered [Archimandrite Philoumenos] in the form of a cross. With one vertical stroke they clove his face, with another horizontal stroke they cut his cheeks as far as his ears. His eyes were plucked out. The fingers of his right hand were cut into pieces and its thumb was hacked off. These were the fingers with which he made the sign of the Cross.

The murderers were not content with the butchering of the innocent monk, but proceeded to desecrate the church as well. A crucifix was destroyed, the sacred vessels were scattered and defiled, and the church was in general subjected to sacrilege of the most appalling type.

The Israeli authorities announced at the time that they were conducting an investigation to identify the culprits, but no results have been forthcoming.

May God, through the prayers of the New Hieromartyr Philoumenos, enable the beleaguered Orthodox of the Holy Land to survive the mounting wave of anti-Christian violence which threatens to overwhelm them, and may He ever grant them the strength and grace to confess the Faith boldly and with fervent zeal.

From Newsletter #46 of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Synod of Bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. (in "Orthodox America", April-May 1984) Taken from:http://listserv.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9407E&L=orthodox&P=R997

"...The week before, a group of fanatical Zionists came to the monastery at Jacob's Well, claiming it as a Jewish holy place and demanding that all crosses and icons be removed... The group left with threats, insults and obscenities of the kind which local Christians suffer regularly. "

"After a few days, on November 16/29, during a torrential downpour, a group broke into the monastery; [Fr. Philoumenos] had already put on his epitrachelion for Vespers. "

"The piecemeal chopping of the three fingers with which he made the Sign of the Cross showed that he was tortured in an attempt to make him deny his Orthodox Christian Faith. His face was cloven in the form of the Cross. The church and holy things were all defiled. No one was ever arrested. "

... "Let me state that if I had not known the New Hieromartyr Philoumenos, I might have lost my faith. I was troubled, as so many are, that the Truth is so badly served. Every error thrives. We clergy are rarely good shepherds, and those seeking God are not many, while heretics and cultists draw throngs, no matter how evil their lives and teachings. Only by keeping the image of Fr. Philoumenos before my eyes do I persevere."

Excerpts from the article in the "Orthodox America" by Monk Yeghia Yenovkian of Paradise Mon., Ellisville, Mississippi:


Nablus is the largest town in the West Bank, the territory under Palestinian authority from 1994. It is situated between the picturesque mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. The Israelites have the peaks of the mountains in their hands, so they can easily control the whole town.

See also: http://www.ipak.org/JacobsWell

St. Herman's Calendar lists on this day the blessed repose of one Schemamonk John the Fingerless, disciple of St. Paisius (Velichkovsky) in Moldavia, exactly 150 years ago!

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