It was a drizzly afternoon, a couple of Thursdays ago. I was standing at my bus stop, sending a text to my husband, letting him know that I was catching a later train than usual. Bus arrived. I clicked Send, furled my umbrella, dropped my phone in my purse, pulled out my transit pass, and got on the bus.
And when I went to grab my phone and send a second text, my phone wasn’t in my purse. It wasn’t in my computer case. It wasn’t in my pockets. It wasn’t under my seat. It wasn’t on the floor of the bus next to the device where I swipe my pass. It was GONE.
And I was ready to cry. I figured I must have dropped it on the sidewalk at the bus stop, and it was gone forever. But I took a deep breath, said a brief, half-hearted, and not exactly faith-filled prayer to St. Phanourios, and went on home.
St. Phanourios and His Mother
Nobody knows much about St. Phanourios. We wouldn’t know about him at all, except that there was an icon depicting his life and martyrdom that had been lost for many centuries, and then was found. And perhaps for that reason, or perhaps for some other reason, people began asking St. Phanourios for help finding lost things.
And for reasons that nobody knows, a custom developed. If you asked St. Phanourios for help, you were supposed to pray for his mother. If you found what you were looking for, you were supposed to bake a rich, sweet bread as an offering of thanks, and give it to the poor.
We know less about St. Phanourios’s mother than we know about him. She’s not in the icons. Some think she may have been a harlot. I suspect that she was a miser. In any event, when we ask St. Phanourios to intercede for us, we also intercede with God on behalf of St. Phanourios’s mother.
An Unexpected Answer
But, as I’ve said before, I grew up Presbyterian. I’ve learned to love the saints, and to ask for their prayers. But it’s been a long journey, taken in fits and starts.
And so that Thursday, when I asked St. Phanourios for help, I felt a bit silly for doing so. I didn’t expect him to help me. I expected to have to buy a new phone.
When I got in the house, I dropped my umbrella in the umbrella bin, hung my purse and my computer case on the doorknob of the hall closet, and asked my youngest if he’d dial my phone, just in case. And he did.
And the umbrella stand started ringing.
I had dropped my phone into my furled umbrella.
A Prayer for St. Phanourios’s Mother
O Lord, give rest to the soul of your departed servant, the mother of St. Phanourios, in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sighing, and sorrow have fled away. Pardon every transgression which she ever committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For you are a good God, and you love us all.
St. Peter the Tax Collector: St. Peter was one of the emperor’s best tax collectors. Until the day he threw a loaf of bread at a beggar.
St. John the Almsgiver: St. John was the patriarch of Alexandria. He counted the poor as his masters, and served them in all things.
Justinian and Theodora: A Love Story: St. Theodora, the wife and co-ruler with St. Justinian the Great, is one of my very favorite saints.
Buy the Books!
These delightfully diverse books provide disability representation (Elizabeth, one of the main characters, is an ambulatory wheelchair user). They also give Orthodox Christian children the rare opportunity to see themselves in books, and children who are not Orthodox the chance to see cultural practices they may not be familiar with.
FINALIST IN THE 2015 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS
Catherine doesn’t like vegetables. She doesn’t like naps. She doesn’t like it when her mom combs her hair. She loves hot dogs, chocolate cake, and her best friend, Elizabeth. Most of all, she loves Pascha! Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, is celebrated in the middle of the night, with processions and candles and bells and singing. And Catherine insists that she’s not a bit sleepy.
The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
Shoes or stockings? Horse or sleigh? Does St. Nicholas visit on December 6 or on Christmas Eve? Will a little girl’s prayer be answered? When Elizabeth has to stay at Catherine’s house, she’s worried about her grandmother, and worried that St. Nicholas won’t find her. The grownups, though, are worried about snow.