Saint Ioannis the Turkolekas
Celebration date: 16/10/2021
The neomartyr and child martyr Agios Ioannis of Turkoleka was born in 1805 AD. in the village of Turkoleka in Arcadia. His family was distinguished for its reverence for God, for its love of country and for its heroism. His father was Stamatelos Stamatelopoulos-Tourkolekas, a well-known fighter from the Leontario region, and his mother, the sister of Theodoros Kolokotronis’ wife, Sophia. Among his four brothers stood out the well-known commander Nikitas, known as Nikitaras (the Turk-eater) and the teacher of military tactics, the well-educated captain Nikolaos.
In 1816 AD Ioannis, 11 years old at the time, together with his father and Anagnostis, son of Parnon’s fighter Zacharias, while they were traveling to Kythira, due to rough seas, found themselves in Neapolis in Laconia. The Agas of the Husein area, fraudulently arrested them and sent them to the superior Turkish authority of Monemvasia. There the arrested were imprisoned in her castle.
Then the lord of Monemvasia requested instructions from the Voivode of Mystras, who ordered that all three prisoners be beheaded. First the Reader and the Saint’s father were beheaded.
About the confession, the end of the martyrdom and the miraculous sign, which God gave, after the beheading of the child martyr, the brother of the Saint, Nikitaras, writes: “My brother was suggested to change his faith. They show him his dead father and tell him to sit down so we can turn you into a Turk. Then the child makes the sign of the cross and answers them: I will also go where my father goes. They tell him again: become a Turk. But the child makes his cross again. It was made by the blood of the cross. They took their heads to Tripolitsa.”
The massacre of all three took place on October 16, 1816 AD, outside the Holy Church of the “Wounded Christ” in old Monemvasia. There, on the floor of the Temple courtyard, the blood of the child martyr and neo-martyr John formed a Cross and thus revealed the Saint’s glorious entry into the Kingdom of God and his joining the choir of Martyrs.
The heads of the new martyr John, his father and Anagnostos were sent to the Pasha of Tripoli, and their bodies were buried in Monemvasia, and to this day the place of burial of both their heads and bodies remains unknown.
The point of the Cross, which the martyred and pure blood of Saint John formed on the floor of the Temple courtyard, became a source of hissing for the enslaved Christian Greeks and a place of holy pilgrimage for the faithful.
There is a church of the Saint in the village where he was born and raised.