PHANOURIOS CHARITY PROJECT
What are you looking for?
In the Greek Orthodox Church, Saint Phanourios is the saint of the “Lost and Found,” so to speak. Be it your car keys or your job, an apartment or a husband . . . Saint Phanourios has been known to reveal what you seek. In exchange, custom demands that you bake him a special cake, and the cake you bake must be shared with others—preferably with those in need.
I first learned about the saint and his cake—called a Phanouropita (fan-oo-RO-pee-ta)—in the summer of 2009, as I was thumbing through an old cookbook on my mother’s shelf (Adventures in Greek Cookery, Kopulos and Jones). The book calls it “Pita Ayiou Fanoureo” or “St. Fanoureo’s Cake,” and this is from the recipe headnote: The supplicant “pledges a cake in his prayer to the saint [ . . . ] and when the prayer is answered [ . . . ] this cake is taken to the church for a blessing. It is then cut into nine pieces and distributed to the poor outside the church door.”
In terms of historical record, not much is known about Saint Phanourios, yet according to Orthodox clergy members, he is among the most venerated. Why? Does it have something to do with this brandied spice cake? Some say that you should bake the cake before the prayer is answered; that is, when you make your request. Does this tradition “work”? I have met people who swear that it does.
Being a bit of a skeptic, but loving any opportunity to feed those in need, the PHANOURIOS CHARITY PROJECT was born. Its premise/purpose is simple:
- I have a special prayer, something I am seeking.
- Every week, I bake a traditional phanouropita.
- I give the cake away, and . . .
- I wait and see what happens.
How many cakes will I bake to have my prayer answered? What will I learn in the process—about giving, about faith? Periodically, I will post about my experiences with Saint Phanourios and his cake. The “scorecard” is updated in the right-hand column of the blog, and information is kept up to date here on this page as well.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a list of cake recipients. If there is someone you would like to receive a phanouropita, please contact me at acparker [at] feedingthesaints [dot] com to discuss arrangements. As this is a charity project, there is NO CHARGE for sending a homemade cake, once we agree on feasibility. The only firm requirement is that the recipient be someone other than yourself. Remember, the cake must be given away.
To date, the PHANOURIOS CHARITY PROJECT has benefitted:
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, NYC (multiple cakes)
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC (multiple cakes)
PUBLIC SERVICE/CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
N.O.R.C. (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) Program
N.Y.F.D. Engine Co. 16 & Ladder Co. 7
Share Our Strength (via the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale)
HOMELESS/HUNGRY INDIVIDUALS (by location)
Bellevue/Mt. Carmel Place, NYC
Kips Bay neighborhood, NYC
Stuyvesant Cove/East River Promenade, NYC
Students of the Institute for Culinary Education, NYC
Security guards at my son’s school, NYC
Neighbors in my parents’ building, CT
. . . . plus a handful of friends and acquaintances who wish to remain wholly anonymous