My Big Fat Greek Axe Murder

Philoumenos (Hasapis) of Jacob’s Well

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Saint Philoumenos (Hapsis)
Wall painting of Saint Philoumenos of Jacob's Well Church in Palestine.jpg

Wall painting of Saint Philoumenos of Jacob’s Well Church in Nablus, West Bank
New-Hieromartyr of Jacob’s Well
Born October 15, 1913
Orounta, Morphou, Cyprus
Died November 29, 1979
Nablus, West Bank
Canonized
Feast November 16 (ns) / 29 (os)[1][3][4]
November 29 (ns)[5][6]

New Martyr Archimandrite Philoumenos (Hasapis) of Jacob’s Well (Greek: Φιλούμενος Χασάπης; Φιλούμενος ο Κύπριος; or Φιλούμενος Ορουντιώτης), October 15, 1913 – November 29, 1979, was the Igumen of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Jacob’s Well,[note 1] near the city of Samaria, now called Nablus (Neapolis), in the West Bank.

 

Life

Saint Philoumenos was born Sophocles Hasapis[7] on October 15, 1913, in the village of Orounta in the province of Morphou, in Cyprus.

At the age of 14, he and his twin brother, the future Archimandrite Elpidios, left their home to become monks at the Stavrovouni Monastery in Cyprus where they stayed for 6 years and then left for the Holy Land to continue their monastic life and attended the local High School. He was ordained a priest and became a trusted priest of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, later being raised to the office of archimandrite.

In 1979, he was assigned as the guardian of the Monastery of Jacob’s Well.

Death

Over a couple of weeks the local Jewish settlers had been coming to pray there and demanded that Christian symbols be removed.[note 2] Philoumenos complied. Despite this, the settlers threatened him.[9] After his guard left home, Philoumenos was hacked to death with axes by Jewish Zionist settlers,[10][11][12] while serving Vespers on November 29, 1979.[13][14] According to Rupert Shortt, a religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement,[15] Philoumenos eyes were gouged out, and the fingers of his right hand were hacked off.[16] A grenade was also thrown into the church, which was ransacked.[17][18]

Criticism of martyrdom narrative

The Britain Israel Public Affairs Center claims that “The Greek monk, Philloumeno, was brutally murdered at Jacob’s Well near Nablus, in 1979. After a police investigation the murderer was caught, tried and convicted. He was a Jew, not a ‘settler’, and a pathological killer (he was also found guilty of the brutal axe-murders of a Jewish doctor in Tel Aviv and a Muslim).”[19]

Dr. David Gurevich and Yisca Harani also criticize the popular narrative by claiming existence of anti-Semitic tropes: “The false accusations of Jews committing a ritual murder of Christians, inclusive Crucifixion murder, are known from the Middle Ages… Perhaps the fact that the murderer was a Jewish observant person, served a basis for a narrative which has a clear Anti-Semitic character”.[20][21][22]

Reaction

The police confirmed the cause of the death.[note 3] The funeral was attended by local and international civil and church dignitaries.[17][18] Some sources claim that no-one was arrested[note 4],[23] while others, e.g. the historian William Dalrymple after an on-site research, that an Israeli from Tel Aviv had been charged with this and other murders.[24][25] Israeli newspapers named the killer as a mentally unstable mass murderer, caught by police in 1982, acting on religious motives to “stamp out the evil”. After a court case he was involuntarily committed while the police files were sealed.[22]

Veneration

In 2009 the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem declared him a saint thirty years after his martyrdom.[1] His feast day is celebrated on November 16 (N.S.) / 29 (O.S.),[1][3][4][note 5] as per the decision of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2009,[note 6] seconded by the same resolution by the Patriarchate of Moscow and all Russia in 2010.[note 7]

Churches on the New Calendar list his feast day directly on November 29 (N.S.).[5][6]

Orthodox Hymns

Troparion (Tone 3)

Vanquisher of daemons,
dispeller of the powers of darkness,
by thy meekness thou hast inherited the earth
and reignest in the Heavens;
intercede, therefore, with our Merciful God,
that our souls may be saved.[26]

Troparion (Tone 4)

At Jacob’s Well you were proved well named:
loving Christ, confessing Him, pouring out your sacred blood.
Being faithful in small things you were set over great.
Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth,
you are now Guardian of the Holy Places forever.[8]

Notes

  • (Greek): Αγιοταφίτης Αρχιμανδρίτης Φιλούμενος, καθηγούμενος της Ιεράς Μονής του Φρέατος του Ιακώβ.
  • “The week before a group of fanatical Zionists came to the monastery at Jacob’s Well, claiming it as a Jewish holy place and demanding that all crosses and icons be removed. Father Philoumenos gently reminded them that the floor they were standing on had been built by the Emperor, St. Constantine, in 331 A.D. The shrine at Jacob’s Well had served as an Orthodox Christian holy place for sixteen centuries before the Israeli state was created, and had been in Samaritan hands before that…”[8]
  • “The church and the holy things were all desecrated.”[8]
  • “[…] No one was ever arrested.”[8]
  • The notation Old Style or (OS) is sometimes used to indicate a date in the Julian Calendar (which is used by churches on the “Old Calendar”); the notation New Style or (NS), indicates a date in the Revised Julian calendar (which is used by churches on the “New Calendar”).
  • “Today, after the completion of thirty years since the day of his martyrdom, based on the Synodic decision of Our Holy and Sacred Synod, we officially place in the Synaxarion, the celebration of this new hieromartyr on this day of his martyrdom, 16th/29th of November each year, to the benefit of the souls and to the glory of Our Holy Triune God.”[1]

(Russian): 5 марта 2010 года Священный синод Русской православной церкви постановил:

«включить имя священномученика Филумена (Хасаписа) в месяцеслов Русской Православной Церкви с установлением празднования его памяти 16/29 ноября, как это установлено в Иерусалимской Церкви».[2]
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