Chrestos of Albania

Monday, February 11, 2013

I love trees.

and flowers.

and moss.

and nature. anything that grows, really...

So when I opened the Orthodox Weekly Bulletin this past Sunday in church I was really excited to read about Saint Chrestos of Albania, a simple Istanbul Constantinople (sorry, I had to!) gardener who was martyred for Christ in the 18th century. I can't find him on Orthodoxwiki, but his story was written and published by the Orthodox Weekly Bulletin (this mini-homily that is put out with the announcements in some churches:)

"From his youth he was a lover of nature, finding great joy in caring for the plants and flowers that beautified God's creation." 
 A saint after my own heart. Might have to add him to the list of awesome-saints-for-baby-names.

"He was a devout Christian, and he found that his gardening made him feel closer to God, Who originally intended for mankind to live forever in the Garden of Eden." 

The story continues that he arrived in Istanbul and began tending to the Sultan's gardens due to his talent with horticulture and gift for making beautiful things grow. His fellow workers accused him of ridiculing the Muslim faith, resulting in his imprisonment and torture for many years. Although the sultan offered him freedom and his previous employment back if he'd only give up his Christian faith, Chrestos refused, even refraining from food and drink in the days leading up to his execution because he wished to die "hungering and thirsting" for being with Christ. He was beheaded February 12th.
icon found here

This little exemplary solidified something I've always felt- beyond the church, God is closest to us in nature. the natural world- the woods, and fields, the trees and meadows- are earth as God intended it to be (or as close as we can get to that, at least in this world.) It's a shame we don't take better care of what is left of it.

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