In Toronto's Greektown, there is a small Orthodox Church in honour of St Irene Chrysovolantou.

What I found very interesting about this Church is that while the main Church is closed to the public during the week, the entrance is open to all, has icons to venerate and the possibility of lighting a candle - which many do. All Churches should have similar set-up, I believe.

St Irene was a Byzantine princess who decided to become a nun in the Chrysovolantou monastery outside Constantinople. She was soon blessed by the Abbess to pray all night . . .

As she prayed, as one eye-witness confirmed, the cedar trees around the monastic courtyard bowed their peaks down toward her. She would tie handkerchiefs to the peaks. After she finished her lengthy prayer rule, the trees would straighten up. Icons of her depict this scene.

She is almost always likewise depicted holding three apples, given to her miraculously by St John the Theologian and Apostle. The apples gave off an aromatic smell and never decayed even when they were cut open. Apples continue to grow on trees around the Chrysovolantou monastery to this day and they too do not decay. July 28 (new calendar) is her feastday and apples are blessed and eaten in her honour to this day.

She is also invoked by couples desiring to have children. If a child is conceived and born as a result of the Saint's intercession, the tradition is to name the child "Chrysovolanou" for boys or "Chrysovolanti" for girls!

She lived and reposed in the ninth century so she belongs to all Christians. May she intercede for us!