There are hundreds of saints in the Greek Orthodox Church that can be called upon for special purposes or during times of need. For example, the three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian are called upon for help in studies. I wish I knew that during my anatomy classes. Eastern (Greek) Orthodox prays to St. Nicholas for safe travels. Instead of using Advil for a headache, they ask the Holy New Martyr Demas to intercede. There are saints to pray to for help finding a job, when wanting to have a child, having a safe childbirth, and there are saints to help when in distress. Have you lost something and need help finding it? There’s a saint for that too.
St. Fanourious, whose name comes from the Greek word “fanerono” meaning, “to reveal” is one of the patron saints we ask to intercede in finding lost possessions or to reveal a life path or a goal. Like all Orthodox saints, St. Fanourios is commemorated on a specific date each year. On his name day (August 27th), it is traditional to bake a special cake in his honor and bring it to church to be blessed, cut and served to the congregation. The cake is called Fanouropita (St. Fanourios cake), often called the cake for lost things.
Fanouropita is baked in a pan and mostly consists of flour, sugar, and oil. Other ingredients are added for flavor—like orange juice or orange zest, walnuts, and cinnamon. Raisins and fruit are also common to put in if you like. All ingredients are mixed together and poured into the pan or baking dish and put in the oven. The result is a gorgeous golden brown cake that is so light and sweet you’ll want it more than once a year rather just on the saints name day. You can and should. Especially if you’re like me and tend to frequently misplace things.
When an Orthodox Greek loses something and wishes for it to be found, a prayer may be made to St. Fanourios with the pledge of baking a Fanouropita for the return of that item or that something you sought to be revealed to you. Once the prayer is answered, the cake is baked. And trust me, it works. I’ve lost plenty of items in my life—mostly just socks or sweaters I don’t bother looking for. But, I’ve lost items extremely special to me—like my baptismal cross. And I most definitely wanted to find my cross.
I hardly ever take off my cross. But one day, I noticed it was missing from my neck. My stomach turned, I panicked and frantically tried to backtrack my steps. I tore apart my room, looked in every pants and jacket pocket, and scanned every inch of my house. My cross was gone. Then, I prayed to St. Fanourious and asked for his help in finding it. A few days later, my dad and brothers were working in our garden and they noticed something shiny sticking out of the ground. It was my cross. A week prior, I was helping my dad till the garden in preparation for that year’s planting. Call it what you want, but thanks to St. Fanourios, my cross was found in an upturned garden a week after it’d fallen from my neck. A Fanouropita was made the next day.
With the help of St. Fanourios, and the promise of a Fanouropita, finding your lost items may be as easy (and tasty) as a piece of cake. So the next time you have something that needs to be found, do what Greek Orthodox do and pray to St. Fanourios for his help in finding it. What do you have to lose?
Καλή επιτυχία – Good Luck! May what you seek, be found.
- -4 cups self-rising flour
- -1 cup sugar
- -1 teaspoon baking powder
- -2 teaspoons cinnamon
- -¾ cup chopped walnuts
- -pinch of salt
- -¾ cup olive oil
- -1 cup orange juice
- -¼ cup brandy
- -1 teaspoon vanilla
- -Powdered sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, use a hand whisk to beat the olive oil and sugar, until the sugar dissolves. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients: orange juice, vanilla, and brandy.
- In the same bowl pour the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts. Mix together until all the ingredients are completely combined.
- Lightly oil and flour a small 12-inch pan or baking dish. Pour batter (your batter should be sticky) into a greased pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick or knife comes out clean.
- Remove the cake and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Slice, serve, and enjoy!