Thursday, September 30, 2021

"How Can I Become A Saint?": A True Story

Fr. Constantine Virgil Gheorgiou

Virgil Gheorghiu (1916-1992) was a well-known Romanian writer, who is best known for his 1949 novel, The 25th Hour. Gheorghiu was ordained a priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Paris on May 23, 1963. In 1966, Patriarch Justinian awarded him the cross of the Romanian Patriarchate for his liturgical and literary activities. The 25th Hour was made into a movie starring Anthony Quinn in 1967. In 1968 Fr. Virgil wrote Why Was I Called Virgil?, in which he tells us only the beginning of the story below. In 1986 he published his Memoirs, in which the whole story was written.

He writes in his Memoirs that at the age of 15 he complained to his father, who was a Romanian Orthodox priest, because he gave him the name Virgil and therefore was without a patron saint and a name day to celebrate on. His father explained that Virgil was a great poet and if he wanted, he could become a Saint himself so that future generations would have a Saint Virgil.

He gladly went to his room, with the aim of one day becoming a Saint. At night, however, he could not sleep from the agony of wanting to learn how to become a Saint. He went and woke up his father and asked him. He answered rather hastily:

"To love your enemies."

Virgil went back to bed again, but after a while his father visits him because he hears him sobbing.

"What is wrong, my child?"

"Father, I have no enemy, so I cannot become a Saint."

And the father answered:

"You are still young. An enemy will appear in your life."

At the age of 60, Father Virgil discovered the identity of his father's killer. And then he remembered what his father told him... Here was the opportunity... He was finally given the chance to forgive an enemy in order to take his first steps towards holiness! And this is what he did.