The Forgiveness & Compassion of St. Dennis of Zakynthos


St. Dennis of Zakynthos

There was at one time, as confirmed by the records of the Republic of Venice, a deadly enmity between the Mondinos family and the family of St. Dennis, the Sigouros. The efforts of the saint to effect reconciliation between the two families had been in vain. Things had reached a point where murders had been committed and the population was divided into two factions.

Furthermore, the hatred between the two families eventually led to St. Dennis’ brother, Constantine, being murdered. Fearing his victim’s relatives, the murderer (who was a complete stranger to St. Dennis), by chance or by God’s will, sought refuge in the monastery where St. Dennis was the abbot. When the saint asked the fugitive why he was so frightened, he confessed his sin and revealed the name of the man he had murdered, asking to be protected from the family’s vengeance. St. Dennis wept for his only brother, as was natural. Then he comforted the murderer and hid him, showing him great compassion and love.

Soon the saint’s relatives came to the monastery with a group of armed men and told him what had happened. He pretended to know nothing about it. After weeping with them and trying to console them, he sent them off in the wrong direction. Then he told the murderer that he was the brother of the man he had killed. He admonished him as a father, and brought him to repentance. After forgiving him, St. Dennis brought him down to the shore and helped him to escape to another place in order to save his life.



3 Responses to “The Forgiveness & Compassion of St. Dennis of Zakynthos”

  1. 1 Fr. Thomas December 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    This is one of those stories that prompts what I would consider to be an obvious question.

    St. Dennis is “aiding and abeiting a felon” in legal terminology. I have come across other stories of this kind where the desert Fathers or some other saint lied or acted in a way that, in essence, violates one of the commandments.

    I know, the greatest commandment is to love our neighbor. And that may be the answer to my own question.

    But, I wonder… What is the edifying character of such a story to us ordinary Christians? Are we to “do likewise”? If the answer is “no” then why the story? If the answer is “yes” then …. Hmmm.

    I am not being contrary … I really do not understand this kind of story and its use in the Holy Tradition.

  2. 2 Jeff Lawrence September 29, 2012 at 6:57 am

    St Dennis showed great insight into the futility of this hatred between the families. Like Jesus he recognised that love and forgiveness is the only real answer. This is in essence the message of Christ.

  1. 1 The Power of Our Thought Life: The Counsel of Two Elders – Part 1 « Upward Call — Gleanings On The Way Trackback on January 25, 2011 at 11:28 am

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