A miracle by St. Haralambos which occurred in 1944 is particularly impressive.
In northwestern Peloponnese, in the province of Trifilia, there is a picturesque village of 9,000 people called Filiatra. The protector of the village is St. Haralambos, and every year on February 10 a great feast takes place in his honor and all people from Filiatra gather there, even if they no longer live there.
Every year an elderly man from Germany comes to this festival with his family. His name is Kontau. People might say, “Why does this man take such a long trip from Germany just to come to this festival?
This man was the commander of the German forces stationed in Filiatra during the period of the occupation in World War II. In 1944 a few Greek guerillas created a sabotage and many German soldiers were killed. The conquerors were angry, and the command was given to Kontau from headquarters at Tripoli that the next day at 6:00 in the morning half of Filiatra should be burned and a hundred villagers should be executed. Naturally, the villagers were terrorized and panic-stricken. They knew that Germans did not back down from their orders. Nothing would save them from this disaster. The next day, July 19, even when the time came, there was no movement from the German camp. The people were wondering what might have happened.
The previous night the faithful went to church and asked St. Haralambos for his protection and the miracle happened. He appeared to the German commander Kontau and instructed him to not follow his orders. He promised him that he would not be punished by his superiors and that he would return safely back to his homeland, as would all his soldiers. At first Kontau was unmoved. However, the saint appeared to him three times in order to convince him that this was a supernatural visitation and that he must obey him.
What is amazing is that the saint appeared to Kontau’s superior in Tripoli as well. That morning Kontau asked for the priests of the four churches in the village to present themselves to him. Fearfully, they came to his office. They did not know what occurred during the night! The priests and Kontau went to all the churches at Filiatra and looked at all the icons. In the last of these churches, The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, he saw this icon: an elderly man with a long white beard dressed in priestly vestments. “That’s him!” he exclaimed and fell down on the ground and venerated the icon. When he arose, he told the surprised priests: “This saint saved your village from destruction and me from committing a terrible sin.”
Thus with these actions of their protector, the city was saved from destruction and death. A real miracle had taken place. All the Christians in the village were moved with emotion.
In 1945, the war being ended, Kontau let the officials of the village of Filiatra know that he would be coming to the feast. He was going to come with his whole family to thank the saint who promised him safe return to his homeland. However, because his car needed to be repaired along the way, he came late, on the 12th of February. The people of Filiatra and all the citizens of the surrounding area welcomed him with enthusiasm. In his honor, they didn’t start the feast until Kontau came. He went up to the podium and spoke to the crowds in Greek. He told them that before leaving Greece, he again saw St. Haralambos who told him: “I expect you to return to Filiatra on my feastday, where you showed your faithfulness. Everyone will welcome you with open arms!” Everyone was moved to tears and enthusiasm.
by Archmandrite Daniel Gouvalis
Read the original Greek here