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, 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 in the corner of a room until the object is found.
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.
Greek blogger, author and food personality Tassos Antoniou has shared his recipe, as well as a quick instructional video here.
His books, Mama Peinao blog (meaning, “Mom I’m Hungry!”) and website are among the most popular in Greece, thanks to his approachable style and straightforward instructions. Be sure to check out Tassos’ English-language food blog, My Greek Salad.