Keith on Life

The Art of Forgiveness – St Dennis (Dionysios) of Zante

Zante‘s Famous Saint

We often find it hard to forgive, but the anger is just harming ourselves. Recently I found inspiration when we visited the town of Zakynthos, for a day out, and discovered the story of St Dennis of Zante.

Zakynthos Town

We visited the cathedral at one end of the seafront the home of St Dennis!

St Dennis Cathedral

The first thing we noticed was his symbol his slippers! Seemed a strange thing to be remembered for,  but then we heard that they have to replace them regularly, because although he died in 1622, he is still uses them. Apparently he still goes out quite a bit, and is called the walking saint! Every birthday he needs a new pair, because they get worn out!

Me reading about St Dennis

St Dennis is remembered for many miracles, but primarily as the saint of forgiveness.

Miracle of the fishes

He was once out with fishermen and they were not catching anything. At first they blamed Dennis and his companion for jinxing the trip. Like Jesus, he then said ‘cast your nets over there’. At first they were sceptical, because they never caught anything in that area. But they tried then they caught so many fish , far exceeding their EU Quota.

Parting the waters

Another time he was travelling through the hills and it started to rain very heavily. But neither he or his companion got wet! The normally dried up streams, became full with water, and they reached a point where they could not cross. St Dennis inspired by Moses help up his arms and the water separated so the could cross safely.

Saved from an earthquake

Once he entered a monks dream warning him of a terrible earth quake in 8 days time. The monk decided it was an illusion or work of the devil, so did not take it seriously. After 8 days the earth shook, and the monk had the misfortune to be in the tower, which crumbled and fell with him amongst the rubble.

Fearing certain death, he prayed to St Dennis, and landed safely without harm, even though he had not heeded his warning a few days before.

But St Dennis is most kindly remembered for his forgiveness. One day a man hammered on the gates of the monastery in a desperate state.

St Dennis let him in and sat him down, and asked what was disturbing him? He said I have just killed a man! St Dennis could see the blood on his hands and clothes. The saint asked him who has he killed, and it turned out to be his own brother, and the man in front of him was a hired assassin! He was petrified realising what he had done, and because he had been seen, and soldiers were following him!

St Dennis thought hard, his mind swimming with emotion. But deep within himself, god somehow entered his heart, and he felt forgiveness, not for the act but the person. His brother could no longer be saved, but this desperate soul could, and he faced instant death if the soldiers found him.

St Dennis Forgives

So St Dennis blessed him with a prayer of forgiveness, then gave him some food, a herbal drink, and he managed to rest a little. Then there was another commotion outside the gate, an angry mob were there with dogs and weapons. St Dennis greeted them, then they broke the news to him, not knowing he was already aware of his brothers murder.

Have you seen him, they said, St Dennis blessed them, and sent them off to look up the mountain. In the morning, he rigged up the monastery boat, and his brothers assassin sailed off towards Kefalonia and escaped. He later repented his sins, and according to some, actually became a monk and dedicated his life to service and prayer.

Escape to Kefalonia

So if you need to forgive, and you are finding it difficult, ask St Dennis. He is remembered and loved in Zante and still performs miracles, and is often spotted around Zakynthos, we may have seen him! We saw an old person walking from the crypt and there was a strong smell of frankincense which is a sign of the great Saint.

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