Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

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Elder Paisios of Mount Athos (Greek: Γέροντας Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης), born Arsenios Eznepidis (1924–1994), was a well-known Eastern Orthodox monk from Farasa, Cappadocia. He is famous for his spiritual teachings.[1][2] Many people worldwide, especially in Greece and in Russia,[3][4] highly venerate Elder Paisios and anticipate his formal canonization as a saint in the near future.[4]

Biography[edit]

On 25 July 1924, Arsenios Eznepidis was born in Farasa, Cappadocia, shortly before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Arsenios' name was given to him by St. Arsenios the Cappadocian, who baptised him, naming the child for himself and foretelling Arsenios' monastic future. After the exchange, the Eznepidis family settled in Konitsa, Epirus. Arsenios grew up here, and after intermediate public school, he learned carpentry.

During the civil war in Greece, Arsenios served as a radio operator. In 1950, having completed his service, he went to Mount Athos: first to Fr Kyril, the future abbot of Koutloumousiou monastery, and then to Esphigmenou Monastery (although he was not supportive of their later opposition to the Ecumenical Patriarchate).

Arsenios, having been a novice for four years, was tonsured a monk and was given the name Averkios. Soon after, Fr. Averkios went to the (then) idiorrhythmic brotherhood of Philotheou monastery, where his uncle was a monk. While there, he was in obedience to Elder Symeon. In 1956, Elder Symeon was to tonsure Fr. Averkios to the small schema, giving him the name Paisios.

Timeline[edit]

  • 1958: Fr. Paisios was asked to spend time in his home village to support the faithful against Protestantism.
  • 1962: Fr. Paisios went to Saint Catherine's Monastery on Sinai.
  • 1964: On his return to Mount Athos, Fr. Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron, then at Katounakia. His failing health may have led him to leave Katounakia.
  • 1966: Fr. Paisios had an operation, and part of his lungs were removed. During this time, his friendship with the sisterhood of Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, began. Elder Paisios would place the relics of St Arsenios the Cappadocian in this monastery.
  • 1968: Fr. Paisios went to Stavronikita monastery and helped in its spiritual and material renovation. While there, he was the disciple of Elder Tychon the Athonite, who lived in the hermitage of the Holy Cross. Fr. Paisios was then tonsured into the Great Schema by Elder Tychon and, after Elder Tychon's repose, Fr. Paisios resided in that hermitage.
  • 1979: Elder Paisios moved to Panagouda, a hermitage belonging to Koutloumousiou Monastery. It was here that his renown grew. Between prayer and assisting his visitors, he only rested for two or three hours each night.
  • 1993 Oct 5: Elder Paisios left Mount Athos for medical attention. Despite his wish to be gone only a few days, he was diagnosed with cancer requiring immediate surgery, and after recovery, he was transferred to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti.
Despite wishing to return to Mount Athos, his health did not allow it.
  • 1994 Jul 12: Having received Communion the previous day, Elder Paisios reposed. He was buried at the Monastery in Souroti, next to the church of St Arsenios the Cappadocian.

Monastic life[edit]

In 1958 Elder Paisios was asked to spend some time in and around his home village so as to support the faithful against the proselytism of Protestant groups. He greatly encouraged the faithful there, helping many people. Afterwards, in 1962, he left to visit Saint Catherine's Monastery on Sinai where he stayed for two years. During this time he became beloved of the Bedouins who benefited from his presence both spiritually as well as materially as the Elder used the money he received from the sale of his carved wooden handicraft to buy the Bedouins food.

On his return to Mt. Athos in 1964 Elder Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos for a short stay in the wilderness there. The Elder's failing health may have been part of the reason for his departure from there. In 1966 he had an operation removing part of his lungs. It was during this time of hospitalization that his long friendship with the then young sisterhood of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, just outside of Thessaloniki, began. During his operation he needed a large amount of blood and a group of novices from the monastery donated blood to save him.

In 1968 he spent time at the Monastery of Stavronikita. [5]

Controversy[edit]

A number of controversial political statements and prophecies have been credited to Elder Paisos. These include the prediction that a war with Turkey will lead to a restoration of a Greater Greece that includes Albania, Macedonia, and Byzantium (Istanbul), and the mass conversion of Turks from Islam to Orthodox Christianity. Many have compared Paisios to Nostradamus. [6]

On 21 September 2012, a Greek citizen was arrested on charges of malicious blasphemy and offense of religion[7] for the creation of a satirical Facebook page called "Elder Pastitsios the Pastafarian". The page, which has since been taken down, satirised the commercial exploitation of Paisios's legacy.[8][9] The matter was raised by a member of parliament belonging to Golden Dawn.[9][10]

Works[edit]

Translated into English
  • Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian, translated into English and published in 1989 and 2001 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Elder Hadji-Georgis the Athonite, translated into English and published in 1996 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters, translated into English and published in 1999 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Epistles, by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, translated into English and published in Feb 2002 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece; distributed in the U.S.A. by St. Herman of Alaska Monastery.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 2: Spiritual Awakening, 1999 & 2000.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 3: Spiritual Struggle, 2001.

References[edit]

  1. ^ An introduction to the life and counsels of Elder Paisios the New of Mount Athos by Hieromonk Damascene, Missionary Leaflet EA38, Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission, La Canada, Ca, Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
  2. ^ Paisios (Eznepidis) at Orthodox Wiki
  3. ^ On the glorification of Elder Paisios, pravmir.com (in Russian)
  4. ^ a b Elder Paisios the New of Mount Athos (Part 1) by Hieromonk Damascene
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324469304578143271912956476.html WSJ.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Greek Police Web http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=20338&Itemid=965&lang= |url= missing title (help). 
  8. ^ ekathimerini.com http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_25/09/2012_462786 |url= missing title (help). 
  9. ^ a b The Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/1002/Blasphemy-in-democracy-s-birthplace-Greece-arrests-Facebook-user |url= missing title (help). 
  10. ^ protothema.gr http://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/?aid=225181 |url= missing title (help). 

Sources[edit]

  • Middleton, Herman A., 2004,"Elder Paisios the Athonite", in Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece, 2nd edn., Protecting Veil Press, Thessalonica, Greece [2]
  • "Talks with Father Paisios", by Athanasios Rakovalis, published in Thessaloniki in 2000, distributed by St. Nicodemos Publications [3]

External links[edit]