Lost and found

31.01.2012

I can’t find them anywhere.  I’ve searched under the beds, in between the cushions, the fridge (someone on Facebook recommended this one) and down the back of the sofa.  My keys have been missing for 24 hours now and a need to leave the house has spurred me on to act with the fervor of a search and rescue party.  It’s useless.  ‘Aghio Fanourios, give us a hand will you?  I’ll make a nice fanouropita’ I plea bargain as a last resort to the patron saint of lost things, perhaps the bribe was a little inappropriate, but I am desperate. I slump despondently in the chair and leap straight up again as I get rudely poked in the backside by………my keys.

Unbelievable. I can’t pick them up for a minute in case they are an apparition, a mirage.  So I just stand there staring at them like you might stare at something that just appeared out of nowhere.  ‘Mum, I found your keys’; my daughter airily points out as she breezes past.  Now I look at her like something that ‘just appeared’ (a helpful teenager? Not in our house!)  ‘Well, thank you Aghio Fanouri.’ I raise my eyes upwards and on the way I meet the steely glare of my daughter ‘and Maria.  Thank you, maria’. She rolls her eyes and tuts all the way back to her bedroom as i check the cupboard to see if I have the ingredients to make the promised fanouropita.  Now you can argue that my daughter found my keys, but I’m not taking any chances.

Aghios Fanourios is my 2nd favourite saint from the Greek Orthodox Church (Aghios Amodestos the patron saint of animals is first) and he has a particularly strong connection with Rhodes. I’m not particularly religious or well-studied in the Greek orthodox religion, but the blurred edges between religious belief and superstition have always aroused my curiosity.  The evil eye, the marti bracelet and the wondrous powers of illumination and discovery evoked by calling on Aghios Fanourios, a little known saint whose life and deeds are unknown. So how did he become a saint and why is he so good at finding things?

The story goes that whilst doing a spot of ‘reclamation’, a pillaging band of Arabs discovered some icons in the ruins of an ancient church in Rhodes.  As a hidden group of Monks looked on in horror they were fascinated to see the Arabs apparently discard one of the artifacts they had found.  A fresh, new looking icon held no value it would seem to the pillagers or perhaps they just didn’t recognise the name.  As they surveyed the damage the monks took a closer look at the icon left behind.  The serene face of a handsome man holding a lit candle, heavy, sad eyes the only hint of the atrocities he was apparently subjected to depicted in the story board painted around his figure.  Aghios Fanourios tried in court, tortured, thrown to wild animals imprisoned and finally burnt alive.  But he was unknown and his life undocumented, whatever deeds he had done to bring about such barbaric punishment will remain a mystery forever.  The Patriarch was petitioned to recognize and proclaim Fanourios as a saint based on the endurance of his faith, an apparently ‘indestructible instrument of God’.  And so, a church was erected in the saint’s memory to house the icon and Aghios Fanourios became the patron saint of lost things, having been lost himself for centuries in the ruins of a church.  The church can be found in Rhodes Old town (directions posted below); his ‘saint’s day’ is August 27th as this is the date the icon was discovered.

So call on him if you need too, but don’t forget to make the ‘fanouropita’!  You can make it while you are awaiting the outcome of your search (might help things along a little) but you definitely have to make it when the outcome is a good one.

What’s in it and how to make:
1 *glass soy/corn or sunflower oil
1 glass sugar
1 glass orange juice
1 tsp. soda
1 glass cognac or sweet wine
3 glasses self-raising flour

*glass = water glass size
(You can also add a handful of raisins or walnuts or some grated lemon and orange peel or a little mixed spice)

Oil your cake tin and preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Mix the sugar and oil together, then add in all the other ingredients leaving the flour and soda until last.  When it’s all mixed in put it in the cake tin and cook for about 1 hour.

Hang on though – you’re not off the hook yet!  Now you have to distribute 7 portions of the cake to seven different households and all the cake must be consumed (even if the dog gets the last bit) nothing must be thrown away.
Good luck!

Aghios Fanourios Church can be found on Aghios Fanourios Street, Rhodes Old town.

Have you ever asked Aghios Fanourios for assistance?

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