By Fr Ilias Makos
The Hieromartyr St. Anastasios Gounaras from the village of Agios Vlasios in Igoumenitsa is not well known even in his birthplace, Thesprotia. His memory is celebrated on July 8.
He was destitute and travelled from his hometown to Constantinople, having one thing: His continuous prayer to the Lord.
He travelled so far, not with a view to earn a fortune and live it up, that, in fact, is what we all want, but to overcome the human misery.
He was ordained priest. He was worthy enough that he received the golden and unfading aureole through the martyrdom that he longed for. That showed that he was willing to bear his cross before the God.
He was beheaded at Yeni Camii because he reacted strongly when the Turks repeatedly asked him to renounce Orthodoxy and the priesthood and become a Muslim.
There is no information about the hieromartyr, apart from the fact that his relic was handed over to Christians.
Without any hesitation, doubt and pessimism, but with zeal, enthusiasm and determination, he started struggling.
He did not let any mundane and sinful things into his heart. He disregarded all the mundane things, responded to the love of God and was completely dedicated to Him.
He dedicated his whole life to Jesus and his sacrifice was the ultimate proof.
He took the responsibility, followed the voice of God and sought for the great things.
He fought against the sin, which he considered to be the most dangerous slavery since it makes one a pawn and dependent on one’s passions.
His example will take the cowardice away and fill our heart with of bravery and dignity.