Friday, February 25, 2011

Saint Filoteya, the Wise and Chaste

Today’s post, while still following the established trend to focus on saints, will focus on one of the few female saints of Bulgaria, Saint Reverend Filoteya. Considering how Christianity is patriarchal its nature, there is no surprise that the male saints outnumber the female ones and I have to add that the women in Christianity do not shine with daring tales. Saint George slew a dragon. Saint Haralambi chained diseases. Saint Filoteya relayed the wisdom of God, which, although not miraculous in the direct, reality-altering sense, is nonetheless an inspiring feat.

The post will be very short, because there are no real traditions surrounding her Name’s Day, the 7th of December, as Saint Filoteya plays a small role in the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox cannon. What is known about her is that Reverend Filoteya was born in the Byzantine city of Polivot in southern Thrace. Filoteya is a child given to childless parents after lengthy prayers, establishing that Filoteya is a miracle herself.

As a miracle, Filoteya leads a life that transcends her human heritage. Her parents made sure she received proper education, which at the time [and for a woman as well] was prestigious. Even married, Filoteya remained a virgin, preserving her purity and emanating the incorporeal existence of angels. After her husband’s death, Filoteya built a cell deep in the lake’s island near her home city. There she devoted herself to a heavy post, constant prayer, night-long vigils, tears and silence.

Her devotion to God and abstinence from all earthly delights earned her God’s favor and as a gift God granted her with the miraculous grace of prayer and wisdom to teach. Through her prayers she could heal anything from physical deformations to serious illnesses. Many of the clergy and villagers visited her in order to hear her godly advice and receive healing in her prayers.

However, the excessive abstinence weakened Filoteya and she foresaw her death, December the 7th, though records miss any information as to the century during which she lived or her age. Her holy relics proved to be incorruptible and performed many miracles.

I’d want to add my own analysis as to why Saint Filoteya. While her faith had been used as a divine weapon in dramatic moments, Saint Filoteya possessed integrity, the will and the faith to stray away from corruption. She enlightened her mind, refused to play a subservient role as a wife and child bearer, kept her body pure from earthly nutrition. Filoteya was more divine than she was human as she even channeled God’s power to heal. She suffered for her faith, but not as a tortured martyr. It was her selflessness that allowed her to transcend.


T.S. Bazelli said...

I like your analysis. Yes at that time, a woman gaining an education, and choosing not to have a family/children would have been rare indeed. Do the cell and the lake still exist? Just curious.

Harry Markov said...

@ Theresa: I would have been as bold as to say that she's the first divine feminist. :D

No idea about the cell in the lake. I have to google some.