With a lot of grace and not without humor, Father Pimen Vlad recounts his memories from the beginning of the reconstruction of the cell of Saint Artemius. In the narration, father Pimen links a chain of miracles of the Mother of God which he was a witness to.
Enjoy! (the transcript is after the clip)
And then, as he was telling us that the Mother of God said to him, “Go and take Communion,” he burst into tears, and from where he was sitting in the pew, he kneeled down, put his head on the pew, and didn’t say another word, just sobbed. An Athonite Cell Joys from the Holy Mountain Look dear ones, we are seeing each other again to continue. I am at the Cell of St. Artemios. You saw last time as I walked up to the gate. Well now I tried to be a little in the shade, as the sun is hitting from behind me. What you see behind me, right above my head, is the cell I told you about, the church and the first three rooms.
And right at the end of the three rooms, we found a cellar in the shape of an egg, about 3 meters deep, where the elders would keep their water in olden times. And we made a sort of storeroom above it, and beside it there is a small bathroom and a little kitchen. So these were part of the first construction. So, I remembered something. When we managed to start building the first building, we needed windows, doors, but we could not afford to buy them. So we started looking for some old ones wherever we could find some, and I know we arrived at Karakallou Monastery. I don’t know how the situation came about, but I was speaking with a father there, father Abraham, he was a secretary at the monastery, and he would take care of things around there. And as I knew they had a woodshop there, I asked him, “Father, do you happen to have some old doors? I understood that you’ve changed some things here.” And he said, “Well, let’s go check at the woodshop.”
We went there, they had 3 doors, you could say they looked practically new. Because they were maintained very well. They had just changed the doors in one of their buildings, and they were there. And he said, “Look, the Mother of God loves you, here are 3 doors like new. How many do you need?” And I said, “We have exactly three rooms.” They gave us the doors from there. And we got a few older windows, I don’t remember from where, we may have found some at Karakallou, we may have found some at St. Paul’s where I lived before, and we managed to put in the windows and the doors to the 3 rooms. Very good doors, they all closed well, exactly what we needed. So the Mother of God, like the father said, took care of us so that we had the beginning done, the doors, the windows so that we could close. I know that by now we had almost reached the roof. We needed wood for the roof. Where to get it from? I said, “Let me try at the monasteries that have sawmills, maybe there will be some way that they will give me something cheaper, lower the price for us, help us in some way.”
And I know that we did not have money, but we were hoping that, in time, we would be able to return some of it back, if they lowered the price for us, we were thinking. I know I went to the Monastery of Iviron, and I spoke to the treasurer there. I said, Father, we need wood like this…” and he asked “How much do you need approximately?” I explained to him how many beams, and so on, he calculated the price for me and when he told me the cost… It was frightening for me. I had never in my life seen the amount of money that those chestnut beams cost. I said, “Father, thank you, but there is no chance we can afford that.” I kept going. I also tried at Simonopetra, and they said they would lower the cost, but, once again, the prices surpassed anything we could do. And the Mother of God determined that, through the father from St. Paul I told you about, he talked to someone and brought us some small fir beams that were cheaper, and we succeeded in making the roof. After about a month, in that autumn after I had spoken to the father at Iviron, I went by there, and on the shore where before they had large stacks of chestnut beams, there was nothing. And I thought to myself, “What have they done with them? Since there were so many. For about 30 meters there were stacks of beams. And I asked someone, “What happened, did they sell the beams from here?” He said “No, a great storm came in from the sea and the waves were so large, it washed away all the wood.” So the sea took it. And I think I was a little mean, I said, “Well since they didn’t even want to give away one piece of wood… Of course they lost all of it! God knows, the Mother of God knows, but that’s what I thought in my head, thinking like a human. Let us proceed. We managed to complete the cell with the help of the Mother of God.
As I told you, sometimes it was harder, other times easier. I think it was still the first year, towards the end, when we still had to bring up brick, I appealed to Skete Colciu. We had carried a lot on our back but couldn’t anymore. So I appealed at Skete Colciu. You have all heard of Colciu, that is where father Dionisie Ignat was. There are two cells there, the Cell of St. George where father Dionisie Ignat was, with a holy life, I would often go there and speak with him, and next to them was the Cell of St. John the Baptist, where father Ioan was. Also an old father with a holy life. An ascetic to the blood. And what did they have? From better times they had two mules. One was at the Cell of St. George, and the other at the Cell of St. John. But they were, not the age of the fathers, but still over 25 years old. They were old.
And the father said, “If you want them, I will give them to you, but you have to take both as they do not separate from each other.” They would graze together in an orchard. The father said “I don’t know how much work they could still do, as they are already elderly, like an 80 year old, I don’t know what more they can do.” I said, “Father, give them to me and I will try a little bit, since we can’t keep carrying on our backs.” I had problems with my arm, as I have told you, it pained me and I couldn’t move it for two weeks. And that from so much toil. So they gave us the mules. We left with them and you can imagine, it took us a whole day to get to Schitul Lacu, it would take 8-10 hours. Well, a few kilometers away one of the mules fell, it started foaming at the mouth, it couldn’t go anymore. I said, “Alas, the mule is dying!” We shook him, did what we could, and eventually he recovered. He stood there a bit and then got going. He had problems with his lungs, the father had warned me of their state. Eventually, slowly, slowly, late in the evening, after a whole day, we reached home with them. We had a worker here, a boy called Cornel, as I told you, at that time I had two brothers of mine that came, this worker Cornel, and then later another brother of mine came. That’s who I had working here. And we brought the mules here.
And we would slowly go up the hill. But many times we would carry more than them, because, poor them, their legs would shake going up the path. I would try with the cement to put one sack on one side, one on the other, for balance. A good mule can carry up to 200kg. I would place 100kg on ours because that was the weight of the cement. The poor things, it was hard for them. A little bit of wood, a few bricks, whatever they could do. So like that, slowly, slowly, we can say that they helped. And from the house, you can see from here, there was a forest where now you can see trees somewhat cleaned up. At that time you could not see through to what was at the bottom, because of the forest. There is this wall that you see here, about 3 meters tall, if you fell, you would fall all the way, now there is a fence here. And I know that from here onwards, we had opened up a small area further on to the other side. I will add a picture here. There was a small house where I had my tent before.
I told you in the other recording that I spent a year in a tent. In time, we built a little house on that spot. There was a father that wanted to stay there, who then left, and we made a little house there with a small room and a bathroom. So we could get to that little house, because we had a path. But we could not get through anywhere else. And this is where we would release the mules at night. And they would stay around here and we would give them food. Well, one morning, I came here and I saw only one mule. I looked, called out, nothing. I think, where could he have gone? It had nowhere to go. And then I asked the remaining mule, “Where is your brother?” He looked at me and kept nudging his head towards the ravine. Then he went “Moo.” At that moment the other one responded from the ravine. “Yikes, how did you get down there?” I said.
And I realized that since they had a habit of playing together, even old as they were, since their whole life they had been together, one had pushed the other one over. And think about it, that was 3 meters down in a ravine. But when he fell, since beside the trees there were also a lot of bushes, when he fell, he didn’t roll, rather he jumped and on his feet he made it down to the bushes. With effort I went down, I found him there, and I thought, “How do I get him out?” Because there were no paths. And I went in that direction through the forest, about 100 meters, where there was a brook next to the precipice. I placed some rocks, and together with another father, one of us was cutting with a chainsaw, and the other following with the mule slowly on the path. We brought him out to the end, 100 meters away.
But where I had to cross the brook, the mule didn’t want to cross. Because on the right there was a precipice and the path was only half a meter wide. He was scared. So then I covered his eyes, I had a cloth or something, I placed it over his eyes and held it with my palm, and I placed myself on the side of the precipice. I took him from behind the head, and talked to him, and slowly he went. So that he didn’t have to see the precipice. And I crossed him over to the other side, and brought him back. And that so you can see our little adventures here with the mules. But with patience, they helped us too, as much as they could. We kept them for sometime, I don’t know, about a year, while we had to carry things up the hill, after that we took them home to the fathers. But a year after one of them died, and a year later the other died too. They were already old. That was the story with the mules we had that helped us here. What to say going forward?
After that it was time for sanctification. I don’t know, it was the winter after we moved there, we did the sanctification of the cell. Now that the sanctification was complete, I was praying to the Mother of God. We had the church, little as it was, 3 meters by 3 meters, we had worked at it, we had placed some wood planks to have a vault, something to give it the shape of a church, whatever we could do from wood planks and whatever we had. So I was praying to the Mother of God, “Mother of God, I wish to have the Liturgy everyday, if you know that it is for our benefit, send us a priest who will want this, who could serve and have the wish to do so and have zeal.” Well, a week after the sanctification, there was a Greek man here. Right here behind me where you can see the shape of chair, there was a large tree. They later cut it as it shaded the house too much, and it would fall on the tile roof and be too dangerous, so they cut it. But it was a large tree. And there, under its shade, I would sit and work, braid, make things.
And I know there was a Greek from Athens who came here. He weighed over 120kg, just over 25 years old, and he would come here sometimes, although he would sleep at another cell as we had no room then. He would come during the day and I would speak with him here. And he would tell me about his troubles, that the girls ran away from him, that one time he saw a girl and asked her, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” And she looked him up and down, saw how big he was and said, “No way.” And then she left. The poor guy would complain that nobody was paying any attention to him. And he kept telling me his troubles. I would advise him to apply himself, because even with work, wherever he would get hired, they would fire him after a month or two. You can imagine, what could he do being so large, he was slow to move, and he had a particular gift to put it this way. He would preach wherever he would go. So people would hire him to work, and he would start talking to them about God, but not while completing his work at the same time.
Meaning he would leave his work and start preaching. And at a certain point they would fire him, they would say, “We hired you to do work, not to preach all day.” And the poor guy was miserable. But he wanted the Abrahamic family, as he kept telling me. “I want it to be like how it was between Abraham and Sarah. I want to be in that kind of love.” Some time went by, a few years, I don’t know. And I went to Athens. I will finish his story. And he invited me, he told me, “If by chance you come to Athens come to my house.” In the meantime the guy had found a woman and married her. He said he met her in the church. She was faithful. And they had a house, they were well off to put it that way. I went to their house. In the meantime his wife had even given birth, they had a child, a few months old. And they prepared a meal. The wife was in the kitchen preparing things, I was in the dining room where we were going to eat, speaking with him. And he kept telling me things about this and that, maybe complaining about the wife.
And at one point, the door was somehow open to the kitchen, and I could hear the wife from there, saying, “That’s not true, this is how it is.” Completing what he was getting wrong. I was signaling him to be quiet. He was complaining that she is a loudmouth. She prepared the things she brought to the table, and I did not see him being too bothered to help at all. I myself felt like going there and helping her to set the table. I said, “Well, why don’t you go and help out a little bit, grab a plate, bring it to the table, do something.” With some effort he got up, placed a plate on the table, and looked satisfied to have done something. And then after speaking to the wife as well, she told me, “He doesn’t do anything. What does he understand through the Abrahamic family, or that he is the head of he family?” So the wife was working, she was hired, she would bring in the money, he would take all the money, he would say, “I am the head of the family, I hold on to the money.” But he wasn’t working anywhere. Like I told you, he would be hired for a month, then let go.
So what would he do? He would meet up with friends, and he would preach to them. He would go out for a coffee, come home and preach to the wife. She had a small child, would go to work, cook, and the guy would say that he wants the Abrahamic family. And I said, “How do you want the Abrahamic family if you do nothing? What do you contribute to this family?” He would shrug but didn’t want to do any work. And I said, “If you want the Abrahamic family you have to get involved. Help her with her work. She is right. Yes, she is a loudmouth, but she is right to say, seeing as you do nothing, and only demand. How do you want the Abrahamic family to be?” And moving on, I left their house, they invited me again, but I did not make it back, I don’t know what they did going forward, years have gone by, more than 20 years since then. I really don’t know of him or what else he did. And so he was here. And one day as I was sitting braiding something, and he was sitting telling me about his things, that girls weren’t paying attention to him, three fathers from Romania arrived. Two of them were priests, one of them a deacon.
They came, venerated, spent awhile, and spoke with me a little. And one of them told me, “Father, I came to remain in Athos. And I have been everywhere in Athos. But I did not find rest anywhere. But when I came here, I liked it. I feel that this is my place. I want to stay in Athos.” The other two, when they heard, said, “How can you stay in Athos? You said you are coming back. We are going back. What do you mean? We came all 3, we are returning.” But he says, “No. I came here.” He had gone to father Cleopas, had received his blessing, as he was from a different monastery. Father Cleopa gave him his blessing, and said, “For Athos, there is the blessing of the Mother of God, you can go, don’t worry.” The other two wanted to bring him back to Romania, he was a priest at their monastery, they needed him there.
And the Greek guy saw that there were disagreements between them. and he asked, “What is happening?” I told him, “This father wants to stay, he is a priest and wants to be here, the others don’t want to leave him.” “But help him,” he says. And I said, “No, this is the choice of the Mother of God, if it is her will. I prayed that she would sent us a priest who will be of benefit here. But if this is from the Mother of God, he will stay. If not, the others will take him back home.” One of the others was threatening the father who wanted to stay, “I will tie you up and take you back!” The one who wanted to stay, didn’t say anything anymore, he just said, “Forgive me, this is where I am staying.” And the other two spent a few hours struggling to convince him but they could not convince him and they left.
And he stayed. He came to me and said, “Father, give me my obedience. I am staying here.” I said, “Hold on, you just got here, let us see what we are going to do with you.” We didn’t even have a bed in the cell. It was just me and my brother and that was it, just the two of us here. And we had that other little cell. We had made 3. I said, “Have patience.” I grabbed some wooden planks, two posts and quickly made a bed. We put a blanket on top and that was it. I said, “You can spend today at your cell, you came here, are tired, and tomorrow you can start.” So the father stayed here. And I told him “I have a wish, more for the Mother of God, to have Liturgy everyday.” And he said, “That is what my wish is too, I really wanted to be somewhere where I could serve the Divine Liturgy everyday. “Great, then we are understood,” I said.
And with the help of the Mother of God, he stayed with us 8 years, liturgizing everyday. And not just the Liturgy. There were a few of us here, and then another three that arrived one after another. At the beginning we were 3, and then with time we added another two rooms, and there were five. We had made another room with an oven and we placed a bed there, and already there were a few of us. And we were trying to, every Tuesday night, do a vigil for the Mother of God, her Intercession. But we weren’t doing it like it is done in Romania, we would start at 10 at night and go until the morning. We would do the vigil and then continue with the Liturgy. We did the best we could, because none of us were singers. We did what we could, sing, read and with God’s mercy it was very beautiful, doing those things.
And they were wonderful moments. In simplicity. We did not have electricity, we would use a gas lantern. That’s how it was here. Athos did not have electricity. More recently, since solar panels have come about, we have placed them all over the place. So everyone has their own source, however everyone can manage. But in those times, you had your gas lantern, in the church you had a candle. The readings would happen in a state of quietude, and with gladness. Yes, they were beautiful times. There are many things to say, I don’t know what to continue with, as I will reach many things, as I told you, many miracles, but I wanted to begin with how we started with the Liturgies. And I know that also during that time, I had read the book about Venerable Iakovos Tsalikis, as I told you in a different recording. He has actually been canonized now and is a saint. And I liked this book a lot.
And I forgot to tell you in the other recordings, but from the beginning I had father Iulian from the Skete of Podromos as my spiritual father. Until recently that is, as after 28 years, he can no longer confess people. He has passed 96 years, so he can no longer do it. Until recently I was confessing to him. And for any problem, every two weeks I would go to him. I would walk there and walk back. And I know that when I read this book and liked it very much, I wanted to know if it was the will of the venerable father for me to translate it. Using the Greek I managed to learn at St. Paul’s as I told you I spent two years there, and after I had started reading a lot in Greek to help me pick it up.
And I went to Father Iulian, and I had set in my mind, that if it was the will of the saint and that of the Mother of God, the elder had to tell me 3 times to translate it. And I went to him and I said, “Father, look at this book,” and I told him two or three miracles from the life of the saint. I said, “Look how beautiful it is.” And he looked at me and said, “Yes, translate it, yes, translate it, yes, translate it.” Three times he told me. I thought, “That’s it,” it is the will of the saint and I have the blessing of the spiritual father. And the translation went so well, I thought it was impossible for it to go so well. I know at that time I went to the Aton peak. It was somehow the next year after the winter we moved in the house, in the next spring, in may after Pascha.
I went to the Aton peak to spend a week there. I would go at that time, I liked it. I brought a sleeping bag, I actually had a military one with sleeves, I would go in that and I could even stay in the snow. I would stay at the Panagia. And I know I was translating this book. And in the first or second day, 3 Greek fathers arrived. A bit younger. I had reached a point in my translation where there was some ancient Greek. And there was no way for me to know that. I needed someone to translate it to modern Greek, to tell me the phrase that was there. I understood largely what was being said, but I wanted to be sure. I asked those fathers, “Could you please translate this into Modern Greek?” They read it, they thought, and said, “We are sorry father, but we do not understand. We only know ancient Greek a little bit, we know modern Greek, as ancient Greek is only used in schools or in church. We do not master it, we do not know everything. So then I prayed to the Mother of God and to the saint, and they illuminated me so that I could translate it how it should be. Later on I asked others about the translation from ancient Greek and it was good.
Why did I mention this? There on the peak, I have related this before, but I will go into it again a little, I lived a wonderful event. I think it was the third day that I was there, there was a group that climbed up. Who was in the group? There was a hermit from St. Ana who was about 70 years old. He lived alone at St. Ana. He would pray the Jesus Prayer with his prayer rope. He had been at St. Ana for 50 years. At the beginning he had an elder whom he was obedient to. After the elder died he was alone in a cell. And there was also a priest from Thessaloniki, he was also about 60 years old. And this priest was a parish priest, married, who, for 25 years would serve the Divine Liturgy everyday. He had gotten married, had 2 or 3 kids, and then him and his wife lived in chastity. For 25 years he had served Liturgy everyday. Not only this, he would also hold a weekly nightlong vigil. I went to his church after getting to know him. They would also only use candles, it was beautiful and the church was full. The vigil would also start later in the evening and would end with the Holy Liturgy towards the morning, Many people would go. He had a holy life. So he had arrived with the hermit father and three of his spiritual children from Thessaloniki who would confess to him. Two of them were called Christo. I remember they arrived there, settled in, and they had a bag of prosphora.
Every year, if the father didn’t make it to Jerusalem, when the Holy Fire would be brought from Jerusalem, as it is brought to every country on an plane from the leadership of the country, he would take the Holy Fire and come to Athos, climb to the Aton peak to light up the oil lamps at Panagia and at the Aton peak. He had done the same at this time. He had a special lantern with the Holy Fire, and he brought it to light the oil lamps. And he would always spend a few days on Aton and serve. And we became friends, we talked. We sat on some dry fir leaves that were placed on top of the cement at Panagia. There were no beds, just a sort of room at the Panagia of concrete, and they had installed themselves on those dry fir leaves. They each a small tent mattress, a sleeping bag, and me next to them. And we would talk. I would gather up the plants found around there as I had an idea of what plants were good, the majority are good for tea. I would pick thyme and so on, and make tea. I had a small kettle, with a little gas cylinder, I had brought an additional gas cylinder, and with the weeds around there, I would make tea.
And everyday we would drink one or two cups of tea and have a prosphora each. That was our food because other than that there was nothing there. I hadn’t brought much, I didn’t even know how long I would be, but it happened that they came too and my time there was extended. And spiritual children were very obedient to the elder. When the elder would say “Christo” both of them would jump up, since both of them were called Christo. The elder would say, “Not you, the other.” After a few days when he had served two Liturgies at the Panagia, the elder said, “Let’s go up and serve a Holy Liturgy at the peak. We can go in the evening and spend the night in vigil.” There was nowhere to stay, there was only a small church with a few pews, we hardly had enough pews for each of us to stay in. We would keep vigil, talk, pray the Jesus Prayer, and in the morning end with the Liturgy. We climbed to the top, prayed for some time, and then I don’t know who had the idea, for each of us to tell something from our lives, an intervention of the Mother of God.
And I don’t remember, I think it was the hermit from St. Ana who started. I have told you about this before, about what he said. He had prayed his whole life with the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus…Lord Jesus…” And once, during a sermon, he heard a priest say, ‘You should know that the Akathist to the Mother of God is very powerful, pray with the Akathist to the Mother of God. Whoever reads it, 12 times…” or he gave some number there, “…should know that the Mother of God will help, heal, if it is beneficial.” And the hermit marveled at this, “Is it truly like that? I will read it to the Mother of God.” He went home, and that day he read the Akathist to the Mother of God all day. And he told us that at night, like a dream, like a vision, he saw the heavens opening up. And the Mother of God was descending in a light, in large size as he was seeing her, and she came above him. She said, “You should know that I liked it very much that you read my Akathist. From now on, tell people to read it, because I will help everyone who reads the Akathist. I like this Akathist very much.” The Mother of God confirmed that. And she asked, “But what need do you have?” The elder said, “Mother of God, you know my head hurts very much, there are many years since I’ve had a headache.” And then the Mother of God placed her hand on his head. She said, “From now on it won’t hurt anymore.” And she ascended back to heaven. He awoke with so much joy, the headache gone. And from that time, the elder started printing brochures and, with the help of acquaintances, to give them out to everyone, to tell them to read the Akathist to the Mother of God. And the elder said it was then that he noticed how many miracles the Mother of God would do. People would come and say “Father, I read the Akathist, she healed me, I did this and that…” And then he had even more zeal.
And I would meet him sometimes, after he had reached an advanced age, he went to stay somewhere at the church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, someone had given him a small room there. He lived there and everyday he would go and speak to the people in church, he would sit in a corner and speak to people who would come to venerate. His name is father Modest. I think now he is about 90 years old, I don’t know. And after him, the father spoke (the parish priest), I think he was next, or maybe it was me. I don’t remember what I said at that time as I had gone through many things in my life. I don’t know what I said exactly, I really don’t remember. But I remember what they said. And this father told us a few miraculous things, I don’t remember, but it had to do with the gift of foresight. How one time a woman came to the church, and he was trying to say this in a way as to not put himself forward, and how God illuminated him, and he saw her whole life, he called her by her name, told her how to rectify her life. He said a few of these things, and he was asked, “Father, but how did you know these things?” And he would vaguely say “God illuminated me,” he was trying to cover, to not reveal the special gifts he received from God. He had even healed people. And after that his spiritual children spoke as well.
And one of them, Christo, I am still friends with today after so many years. We are always in contact, and there have been many miracles, I told of this in another recording, when I was somewhere with the car, we had gone to get the copyright to translate a book and a miracle happened on the way. I have told of that one, so I won’t get into it again. So he told us that one time he was at church, right at the church of his spiritual father. He had gone to confession but he thought, “How can I take Communion?” He could see how other people were taking Communion, but he thought, ” I am a wretch,” he kept condemning himself, “I am not worthy to take Communion.” And he was going and was close to the icon of the Mother of God. And he said, “Mother of God, I cannot take Communion, you know I am not worthy, I make so many mistakes, evildoings, I upset you…” And at that moment, as he was saying this, he suddenly saw the Mother of God alive in the icon. And she said, “Christo, go and take Communion, you do not take Communion because you are worthy, you take Communion because you need to. Go and take Communion.” And then, as he was telling us that the Mother of God said to him, “Go and take Communion,” he burst into tears, and from where he was sitting in the pew, he kneeled down, put his head on the pew, and didn’t say another word, just sobbed. The state that he had then returned to him as he was remembering that the Mother of God spoke to him. At that time we had a moment where I think for about a quarter of an hour, nobody spoke. Christo was sobbing as he was sitting there. There were some spiritual states that were beyond us, we could say. So moving on so that I don’t go on for too long.
Another one of them spoke after that. And one of them said, “I don’t know too much, but one time, I urgently needed some money. I had to pay it somewhere, and I had nowhere to get it from. I prayed to the Mother of God, and I said, “Mother of God, I need to pay this money tomorrow, and you know I have none, help me somehow,” “The next day,” he says, “when I opened my mailbox, I see a cheque. Sent from somewhere I had no expectation of getting a cheque from. And it was exactly the sum I owed to cover my debt. I realized that they were sent exactly from the Mother of God.” And the other spiritual child, who was more delicate, working in an important place, being dressed a bit finer, said, “Because I was too proud, I could never bow all the way to the ground or make a metania before the Mother of God. I would always go, cross myself and kiss the icon. And one time I went to Tinos.” You may have heard that there is a miracle working icon on the island of Tinos. In time, I managed to go there too.
There are many miracles that happen there. He says, “I went there and I was waiting in line to get to the icon, as there was a long lineup of people. I was talking to the Mother of God in my head, and I said, ‘Mother of God, you know that I will not make a metania because I cannot. I cannot bow. This is me. I can just cross myself.” Because he could see that many people would prostrate, would cross themselves and bow down to the ground. “You know that I cannot do that.” He kept talking in his head. And he reached the icon. The icon had a crown of flowers around it. And when he crossed himself, without touching anything, one flower from the icon fell down. He saw that the flower fell, and he thought, “Well, who knows how I made my cross, maybe the air movement disturbed it. He bent down and grabbed it and placed it back. When he put that one back, another flower fell from the other side. He bent down to the ground and put it back. Then another flower fell from the top of the icon. He bent down and took it and placed it back. And in that moment he was startled and realized that he made 3 metanias when he picked up the flowers. He started crying, kissed the icon, and said, “Forgive me Mother of God, from now on I will make 3 metanias to you, you scolded me so gently and did not punish me because you want me to make 3 metanias before your icon. He told us how from then on, he wisened up, and always makes 3 metanias before the icon of the Mother of God.
As I told you, there were wonderful moments on the Aton peak with them. That night, prayer all night, especially after everything each one said, we were living like we weren’t on earth anymore. In the quietude of the peak, it was something from a dream we can say. At the end of the week, we climbed down slowly, they went back to their works, I came back to my cell, and I know that I saw the father again in Daphne. When he would come down from Aton, he wouldn’t be going to sleep somewhere else because he had a ferry to take right after climbing down. He would go in the evening to Daphne, with his sleeping bag, and there behind some stores, in a corner on the ground, he would get into his sleeping bag and sleep until the morning. The next day he would go with the ferry out of Athos. He was a great struggler. He has gone to the Lord now. Christo told me he is gone. He was full of years, he reached about 85 years and went to the Lord like a saint.
So you see, a parish priest. Holy Liturgy every day. And you could see how he lived, how much love and goodness he had. I will stop here and later get into the other miracles that happened here. I will tell you later about another Greek who had many miracles happen to him. I am stopping here. Because I am surpassing the time and I don’t want to exaggerate. May the Mother of God help us. Let us trust in her. A lot of trust, as much as possible. I tell you this from my experience of what it means to trust the Mother of God, and how much she helps. Even in these days with so many rumors of trouble, pains, famine, war, and everything, we need the help of the Mother of God. Because of this let us trust her, let us ask for her help, and she will not leave us. May God help us. May the Mother of God help us.
May the Lord help us!
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