NOVEMBER 19, 2017 - THE “SMILING SAINT”
Every saint of our Church is remembered for some particular reason. Some were great scholars and defenders of the Faith; others were noted for their generosity; still others for their severe ascetic practices.
We find ST. STYLIANOS on the cover of today’s Church Bulletin. This seventh century saint grew up in the province of Paphlagonia, living under conditions of severe poverty. His was a hard and difficult childhood, but his loving parents instilled within him a fervent desire to serve Jesus Christ. At an early age, he took up residence in the desert with a community of hermits.
With a background like this, it is surprising the St. Stylianos is best known for his smiling countenance and cheerful disposition! This may be partially attributed to the fact that he devoted most of his time to the service of children. It was common for him to periodically leave his monastic surroundings and make pastoral visits to neighboring towns. He loved seeking out children and many ailing youngsters were cured by his healing touch and heartfelt prayers.
Parents would also bring children to the cave in which Stylianos lived hoping that he would pass on some spiritual guidance to them. It became common for children to be left with him for extended periods of time, causing contemporary Christian writers to refer to Stylianos as the Keeper of the world’s first “day care” center!
This is why he is usually depicted holding an infant.