Saint Dionysios

Detail from the Litany of the relic of St Dionysios in Strofades by Nikolaos Koutouzis, 1786
Detail from the Litany of the relic of St Dionysios in Strofades by Nikolaos Koutouzis, 1786

Saint Dionysios

The life of Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos provides a clue as to life during the early period of Venetian rule. Draganigos Sigouros was born in 1547 to a noble family located in the south-east of the island. The family had roots in Venice and the name appears in the Libro D’Oro as they had fought on the side of Venice in the Venetian–Turkish wars. Draganigos was educated by Orthodox priests and became fluent in Greek, Italian, and Latin. He became a monk in 1568 and was given the name Daniel. Two years later he was ordained a deacon and became a priest in 1577. Daniel was raised to Archbishop of Aegina and Poros under the name of Dionysios in 1577; however, shortly after he abdicated and re-settled in Zakynthos as an abbot of the monastery of the Virgin Mary Anafornitria. Not long after he forgave his brother’s murderer following a family feud which were common at the time between rich and powerful families of the island, which later led to him being given the epithet of the Saint of Forgiveness. He died on 17 December 1622. Dionysios was declared a Saint of the Orthodox Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1703.

St Dionysios is the patron saint and protector of Zakynthos and his feast day celebrated on December 17 and August 24 where the Church celebrates the transfer of his relics to the island from Strofades.

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