Personal Stories: The Atheist Who Venerated a Saint

I was originally baptised and brought up in the Church of England, (born and baptised in Zimbabwe, but came to England at 8 months old.  My mother’s family being Church of England, in fact my Grandfather was a Canon in Westminster Abbey, for quite some time my Mothers family lived inside the Abbey.  Later my Grandfather became the Vicar of Leeds where I grew up so my family had a long tradition of being Anglican.

In the first years of my life, my parents, (by the way I was adopted at birth), divorced. After the divorce, my mother, brother, and myself lived with my grandmother until she died, when I was about 5 years old. After the death of my grandmother, my mother bought her own house, and brought my brother and myself up as a single parent.From the earliest days I can remember, I was taken to Church every Sunday, and also went to Sunday School. Later I went to a Church of England high school.

As I grew and started to form my own opinions, I found that I could not believe in God, and that there was no proof of His existence. My mother always said there is no proof “just believe.”  Eventually I completely rejected religion, and was convinced that I would never become a believer, in fact I was very anti-Christian (may God forgive me) and rubbished all religion.

Three years ago, my mother died and I remember feeling very apprehensive about attending the funeral in Church, although in reality I was too involved in grieving to notice the surroundings.

In the September of that year, 1998, I took my first holiday after my mother’s death, on the Greek island of Skiathos.  I was still very emotional, and often found myself in tears because I could not send postcards etc. to my mother. I couldn’t understand why at the time, but although I had no interest in churches of any description, I found myself going into Orthodox Churches to light candles in memory of my mother.  Now I know something drew me to these Churches.

In September 1999, I decided to return to Skiathos, but could not find a holiday that I could afford, (I do not work because of illness).  I asked the travel agent what else was available and inexpensive, he said Zakynthos, (an island I had vowed I would never visit, because I heard it was full of drunken U.K tourists, not true apart from one resort).  I reluctantly agreed to go to Zakynthos, and yes I got put in the resort from hell (Laganas).

However, I usually don’t go to tour reps’ meetings, but this time I did, although she got much of the story wrong I learned that the Holy body of Saint Dionysios was in a Church/Monastery in the main town.

As the days went by, something made me want to go and kiss the feet of the Saint. Eventually, after talking to a local car hire man, (now my godfather), who told me much about the Saint, I went to the Church and kissed his feet.

What happened after this, I cannot fully describe because I don’t have the words. First I started to shake and cry and couldn’t stop, also I had feelings inside that I can’t describe, but I knew that something very powerful yet gentle had touched me.  The following day I started to get messages in my head, that I knew were from the Saint.  My memory is getting somewhat vague now about all that happened, but I knew that the Saint had a very great power, I also realised that if there was no God then Saint would not have this power, indeed there would be no Saint.

I have since witnessed many miracles, often small, which some people would say were coincidence, but too many have happened to be all coincidences.

Before I came home from Zakynthos, I was given many small pieces of material from the Saints’ slippers (they are changed 2-3 times a year) to give to others. At first I didn’t know who to give them to except for a few friends and family, they are too Sacred to give to people who may throw them away.  However I soon found myself meeting people, mostly strangers, and something in my head said give a piece to this person.

Whenever this happens, it always has some very deep affect on the recipient, the Saint is never wrong.  Even this week I gave a piece to someone I knew, thinking it was my choice to give it to her, but she immediately burst into tears and I know from experience, that is because the power of the Saint/God touched her.

I always carry some of these holy items, as I never know when I am going to be asked to give them, or who to. I feel greatly privileged that Saint Dionysios is using me in this way, he is also using me to tell my story. Many people after hearing this story have told me, God sent you to tell me to go to Zakynthos, or they say that there faith has been strengthened.

Again I find this a great privilege, and can only ask, why me?  People have said I have power and thank me for what I have done for them, I am always very careful and quick to point out that, I have no power and have done nothing, the power is from God through the Saint.  I thank God for allowing me to be an instrument of his.

I was baptised on 13 May 2001 at the Monastery of Saint Dionysios. I took Petros as a second name (not usual in Orthodoxy I know), because that was my original Christian name, I changed it more than twenty years ago, and hurt my mother very deeply.  I took it back in the Greek form for her sake.

By Dionysios Petros

Source: http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2010/06/the-atheist-who-venerated-a-saint-dionysios-petros/