August 27th marks the feast day of an Orthodox saint known, according to faithful, for helping people find lost things. It’s common throughout Greece— especially Rhodes where his tradition is centered, to pray for the saint’s involvement when important things are lost.
Wedding rings, keys, important documents— you name it. Numerous believers credit the saint with helping them find their lost possessions.
Traditions vary throughout Greece. In Crete, a needle is placed in the floor until the object is found. In other places, it’s not the actual saint you are praying to, but his mother you are asking to be forgiven.
According to the tradition, Fanourios lived in Roman times and refused to give up his Christian faith. He was persecuted for his beliefs and ultimately forced to face 12 separate tortures by the Romans— persevering until his death.
The discovery of an icon in Rhodes (others say Cyprus) has made this island a focal point of celebrating this saint and many men of the island are named Fanourios.
The icon depicted Fanourios dressed as a Roman soldier and carrying a cross. Around his image were twelve scenes from his life when Romans tortured him.
Numerous stories abound about how the saint became associated with finding lost items. In fact, his name comes from the Greek word “fanerono” or, to reveal— so there’s a clue, perhaps.
But one tradition is the same no matter where in Greece you come from. When your lost item is revealed— you bake a cake, not in honor of the saint, but in memory of his mom.
That’s right— the story continues that Fanourios’ mom was a bad lady. Some say a prostitute, and Fanourios was never able to convert her to Christianity during her lifetime.
So when baking your cake, or when cutting into it, or when eating a bite (traditions vary everywhere)— believers say something to the effect “May God forgive St. Fanourios’ mom.”
And like the traditions and history surrounding this saint, just as plentiful are the different variations of Fanouropita.
Here’s an easy one we’ve selected to share from Food.com
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar, plus
2 tablespoons sugar
2 oranges, juice and zest of, plus enough extra
2 cups fresh orange juice, in total
1⁄2 cup brandy (but the brandy tastes better!) or 1⁄2 cup water (but the brandy tastes better!)
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter and flour a 12-inch, round cake pan or a 9x13x2-inch baking dish.
Mix the flour with the spices.
In a bowl mix the oil, sugar, orange juice, brandy and the orange zest.
Add the flour, the raisins and the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 45 min to an hour (insert toothpick, if it comes out clean, it’s ready)