In a festive atmosphere, the memory of the newly-revealed Holy Hieromartyr Vlasios, who was martyred in Sklavaina, Akarnania, was celebrated again this year, along with the six martyrs who suffered along side Him – Symeon, Theoklitus, Panteleimon, Ignatius, Charitonus and Nikephoros –in the place of the martyrdom of the Saints, in Sklavaina Akarnania. At the location where the tomb of Saint Vlasios is preserved, a Holy Church has been erected in his honour.
His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos of Aetolia and Akarnania presided over the Matins and Divine Liturgy, and was joined also by priests of the district, led by the Hierarchical Commissioner of Vonitsa Father Christos Vettas.
His Eminence Metropolitan Damaskinos, during his sermon, said among other things: “Our local Church and the sanctified Aetolia-Acarnania boast with joy, because it possesses as a precious and inexhaustible treasure the choir of the local Saints. All those who, along the historical path, were either born, or martyred in this place, or preached, or worked miracles, or watered this blessed land of the Aitolians and the Akarnians with their holy blood. Among the choir of our local Saints, a special place is occupied by the holy and glorious hieromartyr Vlasios and those who were martyred with him, whose holy memory we honour today, here, in this place sanctified by their martyrdom, sanctified by the thousand-year-plus presence of their holy and miraculous relics”.
His Eminence expressed his emotion, because for the first time he celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the annual memory of the Saints and referred to their Holy Synaxarion, which presents the life and martyrdom of Saint Vlasios and those who were martyred with him. He also referred to the people who brought about the manifestation of the Saint in the world and his inscription in the hagiological books of the Orthodox Church, including the blessed Archimandrite Augustinos Katsambiris and Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Akarnania of blessed memory. He also made special reference to the efforts that must be made by both the Municipality and the Church for the promotion of the Saint and the highlighting of the place where he lived and was martyred.
Concluding, he said: “It is our duty and our responsibility to imitate Saint Vlasios, to imitate his confessional disposition, his love for Christ, his faith in the Church, his unparalleled courage, valour and bravery. Also, we have to keep this feast day alive and at the same time majestic, to give it the spiritual beauty, but also the worshipful grandeur it deserves. To keep the holy memory of Saint Vlasios alive, mainly and above all so that the faithful may be inspired, strengthened by his grace, enlightened by his martyrdom and may the Saint intercede for all of us”.
The Divine Liturgy was attended by many pilgrims from Palairos and the wider region, including the Mayor of Aktio – Vonitsa, Mr. Georgios Apostolakis.
On the eve of the feast, the festive Vespers service was held, with the participation of a large number of believers. Archimandrite Nektarios Triantis, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Agrinio lead the Vespers Service, and preached the divine word and referred to the life and martyrdom of the Saint and the spiritual messages he offers to the modern human being.