Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia is one of the most recent Saints to have been recognised by the Orthodox Church. His life was a revelation and expression of God’s love and providence for the contemporary world.
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit Saint Porphyrios saw into the deepest recesses of the human soul. He was wholly devoted to the Church and to Christ and cared for the people of God, those near and those far off, the faithful and the disbelievers, Christians and those ignorant of the word of God, approaching everyone without exception with boundless care and understanding. Endowed as he was with many rare spiritual gifts, the Saint, through his life and through his words, taught that Christ is the source of life, of joy and of true light. Close to him, a multitude of people found healing, spiritual guidance, comfort, and hope.
In the difficult times of pain and apostasy that are experienced in the present day, Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia with his universal appeal and continuing luminous presence offers himself and belongs to all who seek a true meaning in life and invoke his aid.
The words of Saint Porphyrios have become widely known through a book originally published by the Monastery of Chrysopigi and translated into English as Wounded by Love. The words of the saint which the book contains come from an archive of recordings and are presented exactly as spoken, preserving their immediacy and authenticity. His teachings relate to prayer, spiritual life, the upbringing of children, illness and other topics, offering answers and opening a path of life. This book has been translated into more than twenty languages and has been read by countless people throughout the world.
Close to the Metamorphosis at Kastro a new church, dedicated to Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, is currently under constuction.
|A Biographical Note
Saint Porphyrios was born on the 7th February 1906 in the village of Aghios Ioannis on the island of Evia and was named Evangelos. His parents, Leonidas and Eleni Bairaktaris, were pious and God-loving people. His father was a chanter at the village church and had come to know Saint Nektarios personally. The family was large and his parents,poor farmers, were struggling to support it. For this reason his father was forced to emigrate to America where he worked on the construction of the Panama Canal.
Little Evangelos was the fourth of the five children in the family. As a boy he looked after sheep on the hills and had completed only the first class of primary school when, at the age of seven, he was obliged on account of his family’s extreme poverty to go to the nearby town of Chalkida to work. Later he went to Piraeus to work in a general store owned by a relative.
From an early age Saint Porphyrios came to love Christ with a strong, exclusive love. Even while tending the sheep in his village he read the Life of Saint John the Hut-Dweller syllable by syllable and by the grace of God felt a call to the monastic life. He set his heart on becoming a hermit.
At the age of twelve he left secretly to go to the Holy Mountain. The grace of God led him to the hermitage of Saint George in Kavsokalyvia where he lived in obedience to two elders, natural brothers, Panteleimon, who was a father confessor, and Ioannikios, who was a priest. He devoted himself with great love and in a spirit of utter obedience to the two elders who had a reputation for being exceptionally austere.
At the age of fourteen he became a monk and took the name Nicetas. Two years later he took his final monastic vows of the Great Schema.With his purity of heart, his joyful obedience and his fervent zeal, he soon became a vessel of great gifts of the Holy Spirit. A special place among these gifts of grace was held by the gift of clear sight or clairvoyance.
At the age of nineteen, Nicetas fell seriously ill and this obliged him to leave the Holy Mountain. He returned to Evia and entered the Monastery of Saint Haralambos at Levka. A year later, in 1926, he was ordained as a priest in the Church of Saint Haralambos in the town of Kymi by the Archbishop of Sinai, Porphyrios III, who gave him the name Porphyrios. At the age of of twenty-two he became a confessor and spiritual father and shortly aftewards was accorded the title of Archimandrite. For a time he was parish priest in the village of Tsakei in Evia.
He lived for twelve years in the Monastery of Saint Charalambos in Evia serving as a spiritual guide and confessor and then for three years in the deserted Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Ano Vathia.
In 1940, on the eve of Greece’s entry into the Second World War, God’s providence brought Saint Porphyrios to serve suffering humanity as chaplain to the Athens Polyclinic Hospital in the centre of Athens. For the saintly Elder who desired to sacrifice himself for the salvation of others, this was a blessed vocation which he fulfilled with great zeal and love. He himself said that he served there for thirty-three years as if it were a single day.
As of 1955 he stayed in the tiny Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Kallisia on the foothills of Mount Pendeli. He rented this monastic dependency along with the surrounding area from the Penteli Monastery and worked the land with great diligence. At the same time he carried out his copious work of spiritual guidance.
In the summer of 1979 he moved to Milesi with the dream of founding a monastery there. To begin with he lived in a caravan under exceedingly difficult conditions and later in a bare cell built of concrete blocks where he endured without complaint his many health problems. In 1984 he moved into a wing of the monastery that was under construction. In spite of the fact that the elder was seriously ill and blind, he worked constantly and unstintingly for the completion of the monastery. On the 26th February 1990 he was able to see his dream becoming reality when the foundation stone of the church of the Transfiguration was laid.
In the final years of his earthly life Saint Porphyrios began to prepare himself for his death. His saintly passing occurred, just as he desired, in his beloved Kavsokalyvia. There, secretly and silently, just as he had lived, he gave up his soul to the Bridegroom Christ on the morning of the 2nd of December 1991. The last words that were heard to pass from his mouth were from the Lord’s High Priestly prayer, words that he loved deeply and often repeated: “That they may be one”.
On the 27th November 2013 the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate officially proclaimed Elder Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia as a Saint.
His memory is celebrated on the 2nd of December.