|St. Dodo, May 20|
St. Dodo is from the village of Sidos in Iraq. His parents were Simon and Helen. They were very wealthy and known for their strong faith. They were well advanced in years and had no child. Led by their faith, they went to a nearby seminary in the mountain of Tabriz in Iran where they spent many days and nights in heartily and earnest prayers and contemplations with Mar David (Daweed) the head of the seminary. After their return, Helen conceived and delivered a baby boy in 530 A.D.
To show their gratitude and thanks to the Lord, they headed back to the seminary where they fulfilled their charity promises to the seminary and had their baby boy baptized by Mar Daweed himself. Upon their return to Sidos, his parents took good care of him. They raised him in the true Christian upbringing and nicknamed him "Dodo", meaning "beloved" in Aramaic. St. Dodo had his elementary education: in the village schooL He was very smart and his conduct was righteous.
When he became a teenager, his parents talked him into marriage as was the tradition in those days. But he refused because his heart had no place for anyone other than Christ. He was always seen with the Bible in his hands, reading and meditating.
The first thing St. Dodo did when his parents passed away was to distribute all of his possessions on the poor and needy, according to Jesus' commandment to the rich man, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me." (Mathew 19:21). And indeed, St. Dodo followed the footsteps of Jesus. Soon after, he joined priesthood by becoming a monk in that same seminary and he was loved and appreciated by all.
Life in the seminary was not tough enough for St. Dodo. He wanted to conquer all lusts of the flesh and give himself to worship God extremely. So, as soon as the head of the Seminary passed away, he left to the mountain of Tabriz where he isolated himself for twelve years, praying while wearing an iron shirt.
One night, the new head of the seminary saw a vision telling him about the worsened situation of St. Dodo, and his whereabouts in order to rescue him. Next morning, he went looking for him with some monks. They found him in a miserable situation. They brought him back and took care of him.
When he became healthy, he left to visit the Holy Land. Upon his return he departed to a different place, to a scary valley known as "ܪܓܘܠܐ ܕܓܗܢܐ Hell Valley" overlooked by the village of Esfes, 7 Kilometers South West of the town of Azekh (now Idil, Turkey). It was called "Hell Valley" because of the depth of the valley and it was a fertile area for thieves and outlaws who robbed every person passing through that location. He was later joined by his uncle St. Isaac and some 40 monks. There they built a church and his solitary is still there till today. And by their prayers and hard work the valley became a spiritual oasis and a shelter to many believers.
When the bishop of Takrit (Iraq) passed away in 589 A.D., His Holiness Patriarch Peter III of Raqqa (581-591) chose St. Dodo to succeed him. He contacted St. Dodo and conveyed to him that the Holy Spirit has chosen him to come out of "Hell Valley" and shepherd the flock of Jesus in Takrit by becoming its new bishop. At first St. Dodo was reluctant but later accepted his new post. He was ordained and was given the name of St. Gregorios.
St. Dodo ordained 1300 Priests and 1700 deacons and passed away in 609 A.D. there were 1800 priests and a great multitude of believers at his funeral and was buried in Takritís Cathedral.
Twenty years later, his uncle St. Isaac saw St. Dodo in a dream telling him to move his remains out of Takrit to Turabdin (Turkey) region because soon there won't be any Christian left in that area. His uncle carried out his wish and moved his body to the village of Basebreen (now is Haberli) in Turabdin, Turkey. He was buried there and a church was built in his name on that location.
A different story says that there was a dispute between the people in Esfes and Basebreen (Beth Sefreen) as each considered St. Dodo as their own saint, and wanted his body buried in their midst. The problem was later solved by keeping the body in Basebreen except for the '"head" and the "right hand" which were buried in Esfes.
St. Dodo was known as the "father of Miracles" for no one can count miracles that God performed on his hands and many are still happening today. May God, through St. Dodo's prayers and intercession, bless and shower us with His abundant grace, Amen.