Friday, July 8, 2016

For All the Saints: Procopius

As I've studied this year about historical figures honored on Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox calendars, I learned how the concept of "holy fool" seems particularly important among Orthodox saints. Drawing upon the Apostle Paul's phrase "fool for Christ," a holy fool not only gives up worldly possessions and devotes all of life to prayer, but also pretends to be insane. Their silly behavior and feigned insanity creates outrage and avoids the praise of others, while disguising the person's actual holiness.

An Eastern saint honored today is St Procopius, who died on this day in 1303. The Orthodox Saints site has this:

"He was a prominent merchant of German origin. Visiting Novgorod on business, he was so moved by the beauty of Orthodoxy that he embraced the Orthodox faith. Seeking to follow Christ more fully, he gave away all his goods to the poor and lived as an indigent, giving his life to prayer and asceticism but feigning madness to avoid the praise of men. He was granted the gifts of prescience and of insight into the hearts of others: he would often speak to those who came to him of their secret sins, and several times he predicted natural disasters. Once he stopped a deadly hailstorm in town of Ustiug through his fervent prayers before the icon of the Mother of God. He was found dead on the road, covered with snow; a church was built over his relics, which worked many wonders."

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