Efstratios Magoulias, or Yianni as his friends call him, is a native of the Annunciation parish in Modesto, California. Having completed his bachelors in Classics (with an emphasis in ancient Greek culture) at UC Santa Barbara, he is currently a 4th year Master of Divinity seminarian candidate at Hellenic College Holy Cross, Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Yianni loves sharing what makes him smile, in the hope it too makes others smile. Throughout the St. Helen's Pilgrimage, Yianni will be writing and reflecting on his experiences with various churches, monasteries, and adventures with his fellow schoolmates. Yianni hopes all of the iPilgrims at home following along will also have the opportunity to one day visit the Holy Land, Constantinople, and Greece in order to strengthen and experience their faith in Jesus Christ, first hand.
The OCN is pleased to share with you written excerpts and photos from the 2017 St. Helen’s Pilgrimage of the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The students started their pilgrimage on May 21st and will return to Boston on June 26th. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students and we look forward to learning about their experiences.
Our first full day in Cyprus began with exploring the history of the island, particularly its occupation and liberation from not only the Ottoman Turks, beginning in June of 1821, but it’s liberation from Great Britain shortly after, as well as the occupation of the northern part of the island by the country of Turkey in the more recent years. We returned to our pilgrimage by visiting the convent of St Heracledius. St. Heracledius, who’s birth name was Hercules, was baptized, ordained, and elevated to the bishop of Tamasos (this region of Cyprus) by Saints Paul and Barnabas, in approximately 45 AD. One of the nuns took the time to talk with us and tell us about miracles through of interactions of the monastery, St. Heracledius, and faithful pilgrims who pray to him. The oldest, and original, part of the monastery houses the saint’s tomb (his relics are now scattered for faithful to venerate, but a large bone, what looks like his forearm, is located with his icon in the main church). St. Heracledius has become famous for his miracles for those with spinal and bone problems. Many faithful believers pilgrim to this site in order to lay on top of his tomb and pray. As the nun spoke, you could not only see, but feel, the love she had for Saint and his fervent prayers to Christ for the monastery. she chuckled as she told us a story about how sometimes a certain item of food comes to mind, but it is not part of the regular recipes made by the kitchen. Often, when the nuns gather for their meal, the item will be there! A local, whether by coincidence or by influence of the saint, will drop off the food the nuns were thinking about! Her joy and kind words were refreshing for us after a busy day of museums and memorials for those who bravely fought, and still do fight, for Cyprus’s independence.
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