Saturday, June 15 2024

Saint Nektarios celebrates today - Patron saint of the weak and one of the greatest saints of the Orthodox Church

agios nektarios 1

Saint Nektarios, the Metropolitan of Pentapolis in Egypt and one of the greatest saints of the Orthodox Church is honored by our Church every year on November 9th.

Eva Metis Koutoumanou

Agios Nektarios, born Anastasios Kefalas, was born in Silivria, eastern Thrace in 1846, to a poor family. He was the fifth of seven children and his life was not easy.

From a young age he showed his priestly inclination for prayer while at the same time he was doing really with his academic courses.

At the age of 14 he went to Constantinople, where he worked hard and at the same time studied, graduating with distinction.

At about the age of 20 he was appointed pedagogue at the school of the Metochion of the Holy Sepulchre, in Constantinople.

When he turned 22, he served as a teacher in Lithi, Chios.

Everyone loved him for his mildness and zeal to make his students useful citizens. He already lived by asceticism, prayer and fasting and after 7 years he became a novice monk in "Nea Moni" of Chios.

As a monk he was named Lazarus, while later (15/1/1877) when he was ordained hierodeacon, he was renamed Nektarios. Already then, many considered him a saint for his spirituality.

Subsequently, he met Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, studied Theology at the University of Athens (1882-1885), was ordained an elder (23/3/1886) and after his brilliant pastoral and administrative activity, charitable works, decisive contribution to the beautification of the holy Patriarchal church of St. Nicholas in Cairo and his other charitable works – Patriarch Sophronius ordained him High Priest under the title of Metropolitan of the then old Metropolis of Pentapolis (15/1/1889).

Unfortunately, however, despite his great contribution to the Church of Alexandria, the fervent love of the people for him and the admiration he caused for his self-denial to Patriarch Sophronius and other spiritual people, he soon fell victim to slander by his scheming colleagues who convinced the Patriarch that Saint Nektarios coveted the Patriarchal throne of Alexandria.

So the Saint was ordered to leave Alexandria.

Despite his sorrow for his slanders and exile, despite the financial depravity he encountered in later years, the insults and contempt upon his arrival in Greece and his abandonment of human comfort, the Saint faced temptations with patience, faith and praise to God, tolerance and mildness towards people.

He became a simple preacher in the prefectures of Evia, Fthiotida and Fokida, where he conquered his flock.

In 1894 he became Director of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School of Athens, which he served excellently until 1908.

In 1904 he founded in Aegina the female Monastery of the Holy Trinity, where he lived after his resignation from Rizarios in 1908. There he became known all over Greece for the many miracles he performed, but his action caused the reaction of local factors (ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical), who expelled him to the Archdiocese of Athens. Two successive archbishops, Theocletos and Meletios, ordered interrogations, but found nothing wrong. Like the Piraeus Public Prosecutor's Office, which investigated a mother's complaint that her 16-year-old daughter had been admitted without her approval as a nun at the monastery of Agia Triada.

In early 1919, Nektarios contracted prostate cancer, which he concealed from his environment. He continued his ecclesiastical activity, but at the end of September 1920 the pain became unbearable and he could hardly walk. He was then hospitalized at the "Aretaeio" in Athens, where he breathed his last shortly before midnight on November 8, 1920. He was buried in Aegina and buried in the Monastery of Agia Triada.

His relics also remained indestructible for 30 years. Later it was dissolved, by God's concession, at the request of the Saint himself to give pieces to the whole world, because even during his life his arms were always so wide that he could indeed fit the whole world.

On April 20, 1961, his official canonization took place.

He is considered to be particularly sympathetic to cancer patients and "those disturbed by unclean spirits". He is also considered a protector of the weak, the poor and all those seeking work.

Many churches were built in his memory, the largest and most important being the church of Agios Nektarios in Aegina, while many children are baptized with his name.

In addition to Nektarios, the names celebrated today are also: