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Saints

Commemorated on July 28th

Our Righteous Father Paul of Xiropotamos

The Mandylion 4th April

St Paul (in the world Procopios) of Xiropotamos ("dry river"), was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael Kuropalatos, who later resigned the imperial office and became a monk in a monastery he built. Having received the finest education, Procopios became one of the most learned men of his time. His "Discourse on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple", the "Canon to the Forty Martyrs", the "Canon to the Venerable Cross", and other works gained him great renown. However, worldly knowledge and honours did not interest him. He exchanged his fine garb for beggar's rags, and he went to the Holy Mountain (Mt Athos), to Xiropotamos. He built a cell there at the ruins of an old monastery founded by the empress Pulcheria in honour of the Forty Martyrs (commemorated March 9). From Kosmas, a hermit, he received monastic tonsure with the name Paul.

Out of humility, the Saint did not reveal his erudition to anyone. The fame of Paul's strict life quickly spread throughout the Holy Mountain. He became called Paul of Xiropotamos, and the monastery where he pursued monasticism, to the present day bears the name Xiropotamos. At that time the emperor Romanos, a relative of Paul, ascended the throne. Through the Protos of the Holy Mountain he requested the Saint to come to Constantinople and planned a splendid reception for him. The humble Paul, not betraying his monastic duty, appeared with a cross and in torn robes amid the courtly splendour and magnificence. St Paul confirmed his fame as a chosen one of God, miraculously healing the grievously ill Romanos by placing his hand on him. However, the vanity of courtly life, promised by the gratitude of the emperor, did not interest the Saint; he returned to the Holy Mountain, having asked the emperor to restore the Xiropotamos monastery.

In the holy altar in the consecrated cathedral church of the restored monastery, was put a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, given to St Paul by the emperor Romanos. Soon the monastery was filled by many monks, wanting to put themselves under the guidance of St. Paul, but having entrusted the rule of the monastery to one of the brethren, he moved off to the remote wilderness. Disciples, not wanting to leave their Elder, again disturbed his quiet. Then the monk requested of the emperor the means for the building of a new monastery. Thus, the Saint founded a monastery in the name of the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer St George. The first head of the new monastery was St Paul himself, who also brought a piece of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord there.

Having been informed in advance by the Lord of his impending end, the Saint summoned the brethren of the Xiropotamos and the new Georgikos monasteries and gave them his final instructions. On the day of his death, St Paul donned the mantle, and read the prayer of St Joannicios, which he said continually, "My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, glory to You", and he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.

St Paul had instructed in his will to bury his body on the peninsula of Pongosa (opposite the Holy Mountain). However, by the will of God the ship was driven to the shores of Constantinople, where the Emperor and Patriarch with the pious took the body of the Saint and solemnly placed it in the Great Church (Hagia Sophia). After the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, the relics of St Paul were taken to Venice.

Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)

The angel incarnate and the ascetics' pedestal, the first to build the monastery on the torrent, Paul the glorious above together summons the array of the angel, below he brings together the throng of his disciples to celebrate in song his holy memory.