St Phanourios: The Great Martyr & Newly Appeared of Rhodes

Little is known about St Phanourios, except for what is shown in his icon which was discovered on 27th August 1500 A.D on the island of Rhodes. Hence, he is called ‘the Newly Appeared’.

The icon was initially found by a gang of Arabs, who were invading and pillaging the island at the time, amongst the ruins of an ancient church. All the icons found in the rubble were in a bad state of decay, except for St Phanourios’ which appeared as if just painted that day. The gang saw it of no value and abandon it; however, a group of monks who were hiding and watching from a distance retrieved the icon. The monks were astonished by the icon’s state of preservation. They yearned to learn more about the Saint, but the only information they could obtain from the icon was his name, that he was a solider and scenes which depicted his martyrdom.

The icon of St Phanourios has twelve distinct frames. In each the Saint is shown enduring cruel forms of torture in such a realism to suggest the artist must have been a witness.

St Phanourios is showed being: (1) stoned, (2) on a rack, (3) being slashed, (4) behind bars, (5) standing before a judge, (6) tied to a frame, (7) being burned with candles, (8) tied to a post, (9) thrown to wild animals, (10) crushed by a boulder, (11) holding hot coals, and (12) a demon hovering against a background of flames.

Throughout his tortures St Phanourios appears calm, peaceful and patient. This shows he was an indestructible instrument of God and proof of his sainthood.

He is commemorated on the day his icon was found, 27th August (New Calendar). The icon pictured above is the actual icon that was discovered on that day.

Our need for St Phanourios
Found after being lost for centuries, St Phanourios is the patron saint for the recovery of things lost. The faithful pray to St Phanourios to assist them in revealing lost or hidden:
·        spiritual matters of the heart
·        material objects
·        directing or revealing actions that should be taken
·        restoring health

St Phanourios today

Some contemporary icons (left & middle) and the Church of St Phanourios, Rhodes (far right).

Orthodox Custom
As St Phanourios has answered the prayers of many over the years, a custom has developed of baking a Phanouropita ("Phanourios-Cake/Bread") as a thanks-offering on the eve of the Saint’s name day. It is a Greek and Cypriot tradition and still practiced today.

The cake is offered at Verpers services and/or just before the Liturgy finishes on the feast day of St Phanourios to be blessed by the priest with a special prayer. Afterwards, the cake is cut up and shared with parishioners or the poor. However, a Phanouropita can be made whenever someone needs St Phanourios’ help then taken to church to be blessed and shared.

According to custom, the number of ingredients should be either 7 or 9. Also, it is customary that it be shared with at least 7 people.

Phanouropita Recipe – 9 ingredients:
3 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup olive oil
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup brandy
½ cup raisins (or crushed walnuts)
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. clove powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1)     Beat oil and sugar with electric beaters until dissolved and creamy yellow.
2)     Put the baking powder into the orange juice and stir making sure there are no clumps. Add it to the sugar and oil mix. Beat until combined.
3)     Then add brandy, cinnamon and clove powder.
4)     Put the beaters on low speed and gradually add the flour. Then fold in fruit or walnuts.
5)     Grease a pan with oil and dust with sugar and flour. Then pour in batter.
6)     Bake in medium oven (fan-force 1800C) for about an hour or until inserting a toothpick into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a rack.


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