|remembered by the faithful of
Orthodoxy and the Eastern sector of Christianity than a good many more obscure saints
whose biographies have been written in detail and who fill mere pages in Church
literature than the mysterious Fanourios.
Fanourios has been revered as a saint (his feast day has been celebrated for more than 500 years) considerably longer than the lesser saints, and his name invoked in prayer quite possibly as often as some of the major saints. This is all the more remarkable when is is considered that it is not known when or where he was born, what he did in his lifetime, in what manner he served the Lord, or what he did for his fellowman. But there is mute testimony that he died the death of a martyr after having been horribly tortured, and in addition to mystery there is a aura of divine manifestation in the man whom nobody knows.
A fortuitous discovery by nomadic pagans, not Christians, brought to light this unheralded saint when a roving band of Arabs, who had pillaged the island of Rhodes uncovered amid the ruins of an ancient church a group of icons, among other artifacts. All of the icons were in a state of decay or near ruin with the exception of one, which appeared as new and as fresh as though it had been painted the day before. This icon was discarded by the Arabs, ;who failed to attach any importance to it. At a safe distance a group of monks hiding in the rubble observed this phenomenon and waited patiently until the Arabs had left the scene, whereupon they rushed to reclaim this fantastic image in its remarkable state of preservation.
They beheld a clearly outlined face of a saint with the name inscribed in what appeared to be fresh lettering that spelled out "Fanourios" and on closer examination fell on their knees at what they saw. Drawn about the saint were twelve distinct frames in each of which Fanourios was shown enduring a cruel form of torture in a realism that suggested the artist must have been witness to the atrocity. They rushed back to see if any of the other icons were in as perfect a state, but although they were all of the same basic design, size, and shape, all of them were quite ancient and quite indistinct. After careful scrutiny it was finally concluded that this icon of fanou4rios had, indeed , been one of a group that had been exhumed after untold centuries and that its freshness was a divine manifestation of the complete saintliness of this man about whom they were now determined to learn more.
But years of research, scanning the archives of centuries and questioning the leading authorities of the day, yielded nothing, and no more was known about Fanourios than the day on which his icon was snatched from the ruins of that ancient Greek church. The torture scenes of the icon provided no clues, and examination of which showed Fanourios being stoned, on the rack, being slashed, behind bars, standing before a judge, tied to a frame, being =burned with candles, tied to a post, thrown to wild animals, crushed by a boulder, holding hot coals, and a demon hovering against a background of flames. All of these horrors conveyed that Fanourios was an apparently indestructible instrument of God and that in itself was sufficient evidenced of his sainthood.
Archbishop Milos of Rhodes concluded that the unblemished icon itself was testimony enough to prove that Fanourios was a man of divine grace, and he petitioned the Patriarch to convene a synod which would officially proclaim Fanourios a saint, after which there was erected in the saint's memory a cathedral which enshrined the holy icon/ Fanourios, lost for centuries in the ruins of a church, became the patron saint of things lost. To this day his name is invoked when prayers are asked for the recovery of things lost items. He is commemorated on August 27th, The day his icon was found.