+November 15/28 1927
Originally published by the Ta Patria Periodical
THE HOLY NEW MARTYR Catherine Routis was born in 1900 in a small Greek village called Mandra in Attica Greece to poor but pious parents. Like her parents — John and Maria Peppas — Catherine was a pious child, offering to help family and neighbors in any way possible. At the age of 22, Catherine Peppas married Constantine Routis from the same village. Christ gave them two children, Christos and Irene.
The devout Routis family joined the resistance of the True Orthodox Christians, participating in all the services and public demonstrations for their Faith, even when this was perilous — all for the sake of the traditions of the Holy Fathers.
On the eve of the feast of the Heavenly Powers, on November 7, 1927, some pious women from Mandra, together with the brave Catherine, had cleaned the church and prepared it, so that nothing was lacking for the awaited festival. They had also done everything that they could to find a faithful priest, faithful to the calendar of the Fathers, for at that time such few clergyman were in great demand by the faithful. The faithful at Mandra had therefore welcomed Father Christopher Psallidas with enthusiasm.
Vespers started quietly, and in peace. But at the beginning of Matins, the police had appeared with evil intent and surrounded the church. What was it that the police so insistently wanted? They were only obeying the orders of the schismatic Archbishop of Athens, Chrysostomos Papadopoulis, namely to arrest the priest and scatter the “mob” of the faithful. The parents of Catherine Routis have attested to the fact that after Vespers her husband suggested that they go home because he feared an incident. But this was impossible for Catherine to stay at home.
When Catherine’s sister told her of the increased dangers that the faithful were facing in the church, besieged by the police, she left home and rushed in among the combatants. Catherine Routis literally, ran to her martyrdom! The police then struck the doors with their rifle butts, trying to knock them down. They broke the window panes. But the faithful continued to pray inside. It was nearly dawn. Inside the church most of the faithful received Holy Communion and were about to take Father Christopher the priest out safely so that he could rest in a villager’s house.
The faithful had just received all the strength they needed, Holy Communion, to face the police who had surrounded the church outside. A living wall of pious women surrounded the endangered priest. The police sprung on them and like rapacious wolves, demanding the women to surrender the priest into their hands. “You will arrest our priest only over our dead bodies!” one of the courageous women cried out. Whose voice was it that cried out with such holy boldness? It was none other than the voice of the young mother of two children, Catherine Peppas Routis.
The police, failing to break through the human cordon, started to shoot with their rifles to frighten the faithful. A few faithful moved away, but the human wall remained intact around the priest. They were taken aback by the savagery of the police. A bullet struck the ever-memorable Angeliki Katsarellis in the temple. Meanwhile, Catherine Routis did not flinch, courageously denouncing the forces of the schismatic New Calendarists.
But then the holy new martyr, and mother two young children, saw a policeman raise his rifle-butt to strike the priest, Father Christopher Psallidas. Without hesitation, Catherine Routis covered Father Christopher with her body and received the mortal blow to the back of her head. Catherine fell — staining the floor of the church with the blood of her martyrdom. Again, Christ’s holy blood was shed again, filling up the afflictions of Himself in the flesh of the holy new martyr, Catherine Peppas Routis, as Catherine whispered, “Most Holy Theotokos…”
The anxious, weeping, pious women took up Catherine’s bloodied body and rushed her to Annunciation Hospital in Athens. The pious Angeliki was also taken at the same time, and thankfully released after a few days. Catherine, motionless upon her hospital bed, suffered enormously for seven days. Unable to speak, Catherine gestured for a paper and pencil, to write a note to her husband, to commend to his care their two little children, one 4 years old, and the other only a few months old.
On November 15, 1927, according to the Old Calendar that Catherine shed her martryic blood for, on the first day of the Nativity Fast — Catherine Peppas Routis gave her martyric soul into the hands of her Master, Christ, Who crowned her. Catherine’s was no ordinary funeral, but a procession of thousands of the faithful, also willing to resist unto blood, the trampling by the New Calendarist Greeks, upon the traditions of the Holy Fathers!
Saint Catherine of Mandra was officially glorified as a saint by the Holy Synod of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians on September 6/19, 2014.