(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. Myron of Crete, whose account is found in Volume 3 of the series.)
Saint Myron of Crete
The Christian charity of a humble Cretan farmer was carried to such an extreme in one of his many acts of kindness that he was looked upon as a saintly man long before he became a priest. Ultimately, he became one of the best-loved saints of the Orthodox Church. Known and respected as a kindly man, Myron was born and raised in that part of the island known as Knossos, tilling the soil with an industriousness inherited from generations of hardworking peasants who loved the earth and its Creator. It took ceaseless hours of toil to wrest from this land the life-sustaining crops which are harvested with greater ease and abundance with the scientific rotation of crops and other soil conservation methods known today.
Compared to most on this poverty-stricken island, Myron was a man of affluence, but it was only through tireless effort that his farm prospered. Others were less yielding for lack of hard labor born of dedication to a high purpose in life, to say nothing of Christian dedication that allows only one day of rest per week and oftentimes less than that. As a result of his industry and resourcefulness, he had more to market than most. But some of his customers, if not most, were lacking ready cash, and Myron’s flourishing farm took on all aspects of a nonprofit organization.
The greater the need, the harder Myron worked and the more he gave away. Finally, he was threatened with bankruptcy, but a highly unusual incident of generosity proved him once and for all to be a man of divine purpose. One night he surprised two thieves who were stuffing a small sack with grain. They dropped the sack in terror and were about to flee when Myron calmly told them that the sack they had brought with them was not much larger than a purse, and he proceeded to give them a much larger sack. He told them to fill it with grain, and if that was not enough, they could come back for more.
He added that they need not come under the cover of darkness, but were free to come in God’s daylight with the assurance they would not be turned away. This marvelous exhibition of Christian charity was soon public knowledge, and he was besieged not only with well-wishers, but by those offering to help him. This eased his burden to give him more time for the church he was also assisting.
Eventually, Myron turned his farm over to a group sworn to its proper maintenance and development in the interest of charity only. This accomplished, he answered the call to Christ that had been within him for many years and entered into formal study for the priesthood. He was ordained after years of study in which he displayed not only a keen intellect and warm heart, but a proximity to God manifested in deeds that could be called nothing but miracles. These were not just miracles of faithful healing, but other manifestations of the power of God through His pious servant.
Known as the “Merciful Myron,” he served with selfless devotion, denying himself for the sake of others less fortunate. Eventually, he was rewarded by being named bishop of Knossos, an office he was to hold for the incredibly long period of seventy years, in the course of which there was an abundance of his touch of grace in too many instances to be enumerated. One account of unusual circumstances has to do with the relief of a community whose flocks were being systematically killed by one or more of the wild beasts that roamed the region, in some cases becoming man-killers.
Myron took up a vigil with a herd of sheep, and his patience was rewarded when a much-feared beast appeared. But, as it was about to pounce on an innocent lamb, the bishop pointed accusingly, and the animal dropped dead on the spot. From there on, there were no more marauders to prey on the herds, and the scattered peasants resumed their peaceful ways, freed from the fear of the beast whose companions, if any, never reappeared.
On another occasion Myron was traveling on an errand of mercy when he was forced to cross the Triton River, swollen from recent rains and flowing with a current that made passage impossible. While his companions watched, Myron placed his staff in the river and the raging waters were calmed. On the return trip the waters were found to have become brackish. After re-crossing, the staff again was dipped and the river resumed its flow.
He is said to have been one hundred years old when he died on August 8, c. 350.