(Welcome to our Saint of the Day series! Each weekday, we present you with an excerpt from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints series, published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press. Today we commemorate St. Tychon, whose account is found in Volume 2 of the series.)
St. Tychon of Cyprus
A history of Cyprus exceeds in scope and tradition that of continents, but like any other of the larger areas of the world, this island of the eastern Mediterranean has had more than its share of deprivation and desperate poverty. Out of this poverty there came some fifteen centuries ago a manifestation of plenty in the midst of famine through the power of the Lord, an example of which is still in evidence today in a remarkable vineyard cultivated by a man known as St. Tychon of Cyprus. Celebrated throughout Orthodoxy, the feast day of Tychon takes on a dimension that local pride expands to a festive degree not to be seen anywhere but in Cyprus.
Tychon was born the son of a baker in the fourth century, during the reigns of Emperors Arkadios and Honorios, two rulers held in much less esteem than the village baker, who literally stood between the villagers and starvation. As one whose livelihood stemmed from the production of the staff of life, Tychon from childhood helped his father in a bakery forever besieged by the indigent unable to afford a crumb, much to the ever-increasing distress of the youthful baker who looked upon the hungry with a genuine compassion. He looked helplessly on as his good father extended credit to the point of his own bankruptcy, and together father and son worked diligently, but their dwindling returns for lack of cash resulted in a steadily diminishing supply of flour.
One evening Tychon could bear no more, and in a burst of pity, gave away every loaf of bread that had been baked during the day, after which he prayed for forgiveness for having taken undue advantage of his father, who was now left with no way of replenishing his supply of flour. Knowing that the miller would refuse his delivery of flour because the baker’s credit was overextended, Tychon went to his father to confess what he had done. The old man gave a shrug of his shoulders to indicate his resignation, and both retired after kneeling in prayer for deliverance from the blight of poverty.
The next morning both went to the shop out of sheer habit, not knowing quite what they might do next, when to their amazement they found the bins fairly bursting with a fresh supply of flour. The father looked to the son for an answer, but Tychon had none, save to kneel in prayer for what could only be a miracle. When they had regained their composure, they both lent themselves to the task of making bread, all of which was given away. Returning the next morning, they found the bins full again, and once more they baked bread enough to feed all the poor. Enough cash was received to pay the miller who joined the others in looking upon these bottomless supply bins that replenished themselves nightly as a true expression of the power of the Lord.
It soon came down to a question of who was the instrument by whom this miracle had come, and when the largesse of Tychon had been made public, he was acclaimed as a man in God’s favor. After a brief investigation by the hierarchy, Tychon was ordained as a deacon of the church and rose to be bishop of Amathos (Limassol). The miracle of the unending bread supply was several years behind the good bishop when once again it was revealed that the grace of God was within him.
The vineyard in the episcopal residence was in a sad state of neglect when Tychon retrieved some vine fragments that pruning hooks had readied only for a compost heap, and with his own hands, he planted them with the sorry-looking vines already there. A gardener offered to give the bishop a much better grade of vine which he would tend himself, but the offer was politely declined with the remark that a little rain and prayer would go a long way. Not only did the vines of the cleric bring forth the most luscious of grapes, but they reached their full ripeness a full month before any of the other of the grapevines on the entire island.
In the ninth century the great St. Joseph the Hymnographer wrote a number of hymns honoring the miracleworker of Cyprus, and to this very day the vines of Tychon continue to bring forth their sweet grapes a month ahead of all others. Not even the invasion of the Turks could dampen the spirits of Greek Cypriots who celebrate June 16 with both gaiety and solemnity.
Text from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints. Image from Wikipedia.