Watch father Pimen Vlad who is narrating how the relics of Saint Artemius came to the cell of Saint Artemius, the cell he was at when he was young.
“I see everybody telling me that you work miracles, that you listen to them, that you hear them. Can you never hear me?” And he was in front of the icon of the saint, before lighting the oil lamp. He had filled it with oil, but hadn’t lit it yet. He was talking to the saint. At that moment, the oil lamp lit up by itself. And the oil lamp began to move. An Athonite Cell Joys from the Holy Mountain Look dear ones, we are seeing each other again. We will continue from where we left off. You can see behind me, it is still the cell of St. Artemius, I am showing a different angle, from the entrance. The gate is exactly here. The gate you saw in the first recording where we walked up together, and then stopped in front of the gate. Behind me, the side that you see here, we added the year after. We added another 2 rooms and the oven room the following year, apart from the first 3 cells I told you about. So we will continue now with how things went.
But before this I want to say something. I have seen that many people are trying to reach me on the phone. I want you to know something. That… I don’t really answer the phone anymore. For the last few months… I have put my phone on silent, and I don’t answer almost anyone. I have set it aside because many people were calling. Meaning all day the phone was ringing. And then you can imagine, you see, I record and I say everything I have to say, we have people coming almost everyday, and we house them here. So I need some time for them. We have the services at church, I have to be there too. In addition I do things around the house. You have seen that I like flowers very much. So I am always taking care of them. Somehow I do not have time to also go on the phone. That is why, it is best for those who really have a problem and want something, to send a message. Because I read the messages when I have time. To answer the phone… I have seen that some keep trying to get through for a week continuously. If I do not answer anybody, I have just stopped answering. So you may all know this. Because I don’t have time for something like that anymore.
Let’s continue now with St. Artemius. The sun is on me and I am trying to avoid it somehow. I wanted to have the light but at the same time it’s also hitting me. After starting to serve the Liturgy here every day, to have a program as best we could, you know, things were like how they are at the beginning. We didn’t have anything here. We managed to put everything we needed in the church, but I wished to have holy relics of St. Artemius. We didn’t have any such thing. Then I went around Athos inquiring at the monasteries. There are 3 monasteries which have holy relics of St. Artemius. I went and I entreated them to give me a least a little crumb of the holy relics. And all the monasteries told me that it is the tradition of Athos, whatever treasures it has, whatever the monasteries have, meaning holy relics and things like that, they are not to be given away. Everybody keeps them where they are, because if they had been given out they would have been left without them.
So they are not given away. I understood this and I said, “That’s that. We are not worthy to have them.” Not much time went by, and you know I told you about meeting the parish priest with a few of his spiritual children on the peak of Aton, and the hermit whom the Mother of God showed herself to and so on, in the previous recordings. I always kept in touch with Christo, the one whom the Mother of God spoke to. He came around here, and one time he came with a confessor from Velia. From the metropolis. And among other things, he asked me, “Do you have holy relics of St. Artemius? I said, “I don’t. I wish to have some, but I don’t.” He said, “No problem, I have a piece that is quite large at the metropolis. I will bring it to you.” And the father personally came and brought it to me. That is how I ended up having holy relics from St. Artemius. This was when I had stopped looking. I just prayed and I said, “Be it as you wish Saint.” And it was determined that I got some holy relics of St. Artemius.
The hermit that I told you about, who had spent 50 years at St. Ana and so on, after we met, we can say that a certain spiritual bond was formed. At parting he asked for my address. When he would leave the mountain and go places, talk to people, among other things, when certain people would have a problem or something, and wanted to be commemorated, he would say, “I know a place, in the Holy Mountain, where they have Liturgy everyday. If you send for commemoration there, you will have a lot of help. And that is how we would get envelopes through the post with commemoration lists, and we were asked to commemorate. That is how, once, we received an envelope from someone with the name Sabbas. He had added, it was in drachmas at that time, the value of about 50 euros, together with his commemoration list and he had written, “Father, please commemorate us at the Liturgy…”
Of course we answered him, and we placed 4 little icons there. We had ones with the Savior, the Mother of God, ones that we had in the church, with St. John the Baptist, and with St. Artemius. We placed those in an envelope and sent them to him. After we sent them, a month went by, and listen to this, after a month, I received a pretty large parcel, under 10kg let’s say. It was also from Sabbas. What was inside when I opened it? He had printed many copies of the icons I sent him, we could say about 1000 of each icon, and he had sent them back. I reached out to him, as he had left his phone number, and I got in touch with him, and we talked. He said, “Father, I have a small printing house, and I print different things, small icons, greetings cards and so on. In this way I printed out those small icons and sent them back. As a thank you.” Since getting in touch with him, he would call me now and then. At that time I did not yet have a landline phone here. The first mobile phones appeared then. And I didn’t get myself a mobile phone, but, once there was a father from Romania who came here, and stayed a few days with us.
And among other things, when he was about to leave, he said, “Father, my money has run out. If you want to help me so I can get back home… but I don’t want you to just give it to me, I have this mobile phone, I will leave it here for you as I don’t need it anyway. Maybe you can give me something.” And I said, “As you wish.” I gave the father money for the road and he left. And I left the phone aside. In time, I got a card for it and started using it. I was still in touch with Sabbas. And he told me, “Father, I have a request.” I told him, “Tell me.” He said, “I have a little boy, he is a few years old, but my wife cannot get pregnant again. And the doctors even told us, after getting checked, that she cannot have children anymore. She has some health problems, and she cannot have children anymore. Can you commemorate us because we wish for more kids?” “Of course.” I said. We put him on the commemoration list at the Liturgy.
About two months went by, and he calls me, joyfully, he told me, “Father, my wife is pregnant.” I said, “Glory to God! Thank the Mother of God.” Because, besides commemorating them at Liturgy, when someone would call with a problem I would tell the fathers, “Commemorate so and so” and then I would tell all of them, “Pray for Sabbas, as he needs it.” And the fathers would each pray with their prayer ropes in the church a prayer for him. And in this way the Mother of God and God, helped. After that, of course, he asks me, he calls me, and says, “I have a friend, married for a few years who cannot have children. His wife also has some health problems, the doctors told them they also cannot have children. They wish for children very much, can you commemorate them?” “Of course!” And then we commemorated them too. The same thing, after 2-3 months he calls me to say that his friend’s wife is pregnant too. They were very joyful of course. But so that I don’t go into this later on, Sabbas had a child, after two years another child again, and his friend Yorgo had a child every two years until they had 3 children too. So then they agreed, Sabbas together with Yorgo and another friend, to bring something. Since the Mother of God had helped them to have children, they asked “Fathers what do you need there?” I said, “Rest assured, we have everything.” “But we want to bring something.”
And then I asked the fathers, “What should I tell them? So that they may not bring us something we don’t need.” And there was a fridge that appeared at that time. At the time there was no electricity, we used lamps, candles, in the cells, in the church, so electricity did not exist. So what we would use if there was a stove or something like that, we had large gas cylinders which we would buy from Karyes. There were these fridges that came out, that also used gas cylinders, you would turn it on, it would burn, but it had a system within that would transform that and it would freeze. So we said, “If you want to do something in the end, buy a fridge.” They said, “It’s done father. We will sort it out.” We can say that, calculating it now it was about 1000+ euros. That was the cost of the fridge at that time. They bought the fridge, they came with the car down by the big church, where I showed you that the path up started. I knew that they were supposed to arrive, I went down the path, and about half way down, I find the three of them walking up. One of them was under the fridge and was walking mostly on all fours, and the fridge was as tall as a man. The other two were directing it from the corners. They were holding it too, but mostly directing because all the weight was on the back of the other. The one under the fridge was also on the smaller side, and I said, “What are you doing? You are going to kill this guy putting the fridge on his back. The one underneath shouted, “Let me carry it father because I have a lot of sins to atone for.” And that’s how they climbed up and got here.
They were friends because all of them when they were younger had played on a football team, a good Greek team at the time let’s say. Then they all got married, they gave up everything and saw to their families. Meaning they didn’t continue with the football. They came here. They spent about two days, because they would always come for 2-3 days, they would enjoy their time here, would go to the services with us, and then they would leave. And now Sabbas told me, “Father, what I am wondering is this, don’t you want to have a landline phone here?” Because at that time, when mobiles came out they were very expensive to use. You couldn’t really afford to speak for too long, one or two minutes was it as it was too expensive and there were not so many options like there are now. So he said, “Don’t you want to have a landline phone? It’s cheaper and then I can call you for some advice and so on.” I said, “Sabbas, I cannot get a landline phone because in order to get it I have to pay for the cable. It’s on a cable, and it costs 1000 euros and I cannot afford that. He said, “Gheronda,” because he would call me “Gheronda” as that is the term used in Greek when referring to a father that is older or the abbot of a cell or monastery, “I will send you 1000 euros, install a landline.” I said, “Alright, as you wish.” He sent me the money, in time I got the landline, and when he came again, he said, “Let me tell you something, you know when I sent you 1000 euros to get the landline? Well a few days after that I bought a lottery ticket just to see, and you should know that I won a car.” Not that it is a good thing to buy a lottery ticket, but God showed him that He gives back multiplied. I mean, it wasn’t an ultra luxurious car, it was a 10,000 euro car. So he had given 1000 euros and God gave him 10 times more back.
And many things happened with Sabbas. That is to say, many miracles. Always there were miracles. This man had faith like I have rarely seen. And after his child was born, he said, “I want to give something back here.” He knew an abbot from somewhere outside the mountain, an abbot with a holy life that I met as well. He spoke to him, and the abbot told him he had a piece of holy relics, in a beautiful reliquary made of silver, and a fairly large piece of the relics of St. Artemius. And Sabbas spoke to him and said, “Do you want to give them to Gheronda in the Holy Mountain at their cell, as they have the cell of St. Artemius?” And he said, “Of course, gladly.” Sabbas said, “Will you give them to me so that I may take them? Because you see the miracle happened, my child was born.” And he said, “Of course.” Like that, Sabbas together with that abbot came to us and brought us the reliquary with the holy relics of St. Artemius.
So we got the second piece with the reliquary of St. Artemius. In this way, when the time came later, as I will tell you, when I moved to the other cell that I built, I left a part here, and a part I brought over there. So that both cells might have it. Sabbas gave me one other thing. He had, from his forefathers, from generation to generation, in Greece they have this custom to keep holy relics or holy objects in the home. So tens, hundreds of years ago, I don’t know when, someone of his relatives had been abbot at Vatopedi Monastery. And because a nephew of his had been born, a favorite from his family, he gifted him with a small piece of wood from the Holy Cross. So the abbot gifted it, and it reached Sabbas, as the descendent of the others. And now, when his boy was born, beside the holy relics of St. Artemius, he also brought us the small piece of wood from the Holy Cross.
In this way we got something like this too. So God would always determine something, a miracle. There were always things that would be out of the ordinary. Every time Sabbas would come here, he said, “I cannot come empty handed.” He would either come with a car which had a small trailer, or a small cargo minibus. A small one. And every time he would fill them up with whatever he could, with flour, with different things that he could add. He would never come here with an empty hand, I would say to him sometimes, “But come, it is not a problem, just come without bringing the car.”
But he said, “No, I cannot come with an empty hand.” And I know one time he brought us flour. He slept here and in the morning he calls me, I went out for a walk on the path with him, and he said, “Gheronda, I want to tell you something. I want you to tell me what the situation is, how do you understand this: You know that this night I saw my grandfather? He came to me and said, ‘Sabbas, thank you very much, you should know that I received all the flour you sent and everything you brought. And thank you very much.'” He was joyful, in the light, and then Sabbas said he disappeared. “What do you think about this?” I said, “He gave you an answer. What you brought, he received, it helped him.” By bringing things here, us praying for his family, for the departed, he showed Sabbas that he received his alms, and it helped those departed. A lot of miracles happened with Sabbas. What else can I say? I am trying to remember. It was through father Modest that we were connected, and even now I am constantly in touch with Sabbas. After so many years, he always calls me, at least to say hello and, he says, “to see how you are and to wish you a nice day.” I forget sometimes because I have many things on my plate, but he always does it, or sends a message, or something.
As we go on I will tell you some other miracles with him, in other recordings, because there have been many miracles. He had a lot of trust in the Mother of God, every time he had a problem or anything, he would pray a lot to the Mother of God. And he wouldn’t just pray, he had learned the Akathist to the Mother of God by heart. And he would repeat it when he left home to go to work, on the way, he would say it once in his mind. When he could during the day, when he returned from work he would say it again, at least 3 times a day, he would say it. Constantly saying the Akathist to the Mother of God. And in this way the Mother of God worked many miracles with him.
For the last few years he developed another habit, those who know, in Greece there are small churches built on all the hills. A sort of chapel, 3 meters by 3 meters, or even a bit bigger, and he took on, because another elderly man, Sabbas is not old, he is my age, but there was an elderly man at 70 years old, who had the custom of lighting the candles at all these churches, there were many of them, about 100 oil lamps to light everyday at all the churches. So Sabbas told this elderly man, “Give me half of these churches to take care of.” And it would take him about two hours, everyday after work, to go with the car. For a long time he actually biked, but after a time it got to be too much for him as there were many kilometers to go on the hills. So he would drive. It would take him about two hours. To be able to light the oil lamps everywhere. With is own oil, with his labor, everyday.
His friends would now ask, “Ok but won’t you come out for a coffee with us? What are you doing?” He said, “I have a small garden, a vegetable garden outside the city, and I have to go everyday to take care of it.” He would say it with significance somehow, but he also wasn’t telling them what he was doing. In this way he was constantly going and lighting the oil lamps. And many miracles happened many times. The oil lamps would move on their own, he could smell fragrance in the church. One time, he had some problems, he would say, “I don’t know what is going on here.” It was his spleen, I don’t know what was hurting him. And so he prayed, and said, “Can no one hear me so that this may go away because it hurts?”
And one time he went to the church of St. Menas. He said, “St. Menas, you see that it hurts me, I labor as much as I can, I see everybody telling me that you work miracles, that you listen to them, that you hear them. Can you never hear me?” And he was in front of the icon of the saint, before lighting the oil lamp. He had filled it with oil, but hadn’t lit it yet. He was talking to the saint. At that moment, the oil lamp lit up by itself. And the oil lamp began to move. The poor guy, he froze. He pulled back, his legs shook, he went and sat in a pew, and after he recovered, he prayed some more to the saint, he went outside and called me. He said, “Gheronda, what will happen? Will something happen to me?” “Nothing will happen I said, but what did you tell the saint?” “That he doesn’t hear me.” “Well, look, he showed you that he is listening. Do you see? He hears you but he will help you when he thinks it is beneficial.” Yes, dear ones.
What else can I say? There are so many things that I don’t even remember. I need to sit and think. Because I do not analyze ahead of time, I think a quarter of an hour beforehand, try to remember, to reactivate my memory so to speak, so that I may remember certain things. What else can I say? I think I will end it here, to leave some things for the next times, because I try to maintain a certain time limit. Sometimes I have surpassed the limit because I lose the thread when I get into the narration. That is why I will go into other things as well, that I have personally lived, besides all these things. But there are many miracles with Sabbas. I am returning to him. Somehow I dedicated more time to this bond with him. His faith was very strong.
And many times he would call me and tell me, “Gheronda, I have a friend, the poor guy has cancer, very severe, can you commemorate him?” I would say, “Of course. Gladly. We will commemorate him at the Liturgy,” and of course as I told you, I would tell the fathers to say a prayer for him.’ Not much time would go by, 2-3 weeks, a month, he would call, “Gheranda, you should know that he is healed.” And in this way, with so many cases, the man reached such faith, he knew that if he called in a situation, or a problem, he knew it would be resolved. This was his faith. So then I wouldn’t doubt. I would tell the father to commemorate, for everyone to say a prayer, and I knew that for his faith, the Mother of God would listen. In this way, I knew that he would call to tell me that the problem is resolved, or that the person is healed. I could say hundreds of miracles were worked in this way constantly. I just lost track of them. These things were constantly happening, weekly, and I didn’t write them down, I didn’t think about them. Now with these recordings I started thinking “What happened then?” Because to me these seemed like normal things at that time. There were so many that I did not pay attention to them. This is why I remember now how a father showed me, written in a notebook, ten instances in which the Mother of God had intervened in his life.
And he had written them in capitals, he said, “To never forget that in my life, the Mother of God intervened 10 times with certain things.” He showed it to me and when I looked at what he wrote I realized that those ten things I lived in a month. And only then I realized how many miracles the Mother of God had done, and I somehow did not pay attention to them. I overlooked them. They seemed normal to me. I had come to think that this is what life should be like.
And then I realized how grateful I should be to the Mother of God, for how much she helped me, for how many miracles she worked. Then I realized that truly the Mother of God, is more present than ever. Even though I took them as how life should be, meaning it is something normal for the Mother of God to be present, it is something normal for her to work miracles. Something like that. I left myself completely in the hands of the Mother of God. That is why I never doubted if I asked for something. I knew that she was present. That she is beside me, like how Venerable Paisios said that everyday she comes by. And when she knows something is useful she does not leave us. I will try to end. I already think I went overtime. Trust the Mother of God because she never leaves us. May the Mother of God help us, may she keep us safe, and may she take us in her arms and protect us. God help us.
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