Monday, October 5, 2009

Saint Evdokimos the Newly-Revealed of Vatopaidi


Saint Evdokimos the Newly-Revealed of Vatopaidi (Feast Day - October 5)

There once existed an anonymous monk at Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos. His sacred relics were found hidden in the old cemetery giving off a beautiful fragrance. The entire body was found in a position of prayer and his arms were crossed. An icon of the Theotokos (Panagia Bematarissa) was on his chest, which means that he willingly fled to the cemetery foreseeing his own death and out of humility desired to die alone. Wisely those monks who discovered this wonder named this monk "Evdokimos" ("divine pleasure") because he lived in a well-pleasing manner and it was pleasing to God that his relics be discovered, which began to work many miracles and were transferred to the Katholikon of the Monastery on October 5, 1840.

Fr. Iakovos, the Skevofylax (keeper of the sacred vessels) of the Monastery at that time, originally discovered this hidden chamber. In the narthex of the church he noticed a deep crevice. He called for some help to tear down the wall to see what was behind, and to his astonishment discovered a great many bones scattered about of the previous fathers of the Monastery. He ordered certain monks that all the bones be cleaned and placed back properly and in order. This was Monday, September 28, 1840.

On Wednesday, October 1, about two hours before midday, the workers cleaning the relics noticed a strong beautiful fragrance coming from the pile of bones. Fr. Iakovos had placed a commissary over the task and once this discovery was made the commissary ordered all the workers to work calmly and carefully, since what they smelled was a sign of holiness lest they come across some holy relics and mistreat them. In a short time the discovery was made. The astonished monks notified Abbot Philaret as well as everyone in the Monastery, which included two bishops who were found in the Monastery that day - Bishop Chrysanthos of Smyrna and Bishop Gregory of Andrionople. When both bishops confirmed this to be a miracle of God, everyone present began to glorify God with one voice saying: "Great is the God of the Christians!"

On October 2 they began to wonder who these myrrh-gushing relics could belong to. Since all the fathers were intent on celebrating an all-night vigil to glorify God for this miracle, they wanted also to sing hymns of praise to this newly-revealed Saint and seek his intercessions. To do this they desired to choose a temporary name until, if God so chose, his name was revealed. It was then decided by common consent to name this saint "Evdokimos" for the reasons cited above, and it was justified on the basis that if the Saint did not like his name then he would have to reveal his true name to which they would gladly change it.

It is amazing how much can be inferred by how St. Evdokimos died. His humility and trust in God is astonishing. It can only be that he knew that the hour of his death approached. Taking up an icon of the Panagia he proceeded to the place where the fathers bones were placed awaiting the General Resurrection. Placing himself in a hidden place under these scattered bones he desired to fall asleep in the Lord unnoticed but to God, so that he would not be honored as a saint by his fellow monks. Not deeming himself worthy of honors, he gave up his spirit. But God desired to exalt his humble servant generations later.

On the evening of October 4 into the 5th, which was a Saturday night, the fathers went to transfer the holy myrrh-gushing relics of St. Evdokimos to the Katholikon of the Monastery. Throughout the entire night they glorified God and praised their new Saint. Following the Divine Liturgy the fathers one by one venerated the holy relics and then placed them in the Holy Altar.

Some speculate that these holy relics belong to St. Savvas of Vatopaidi, who is otherwise absent from the synaxaria and without liturgical commemoration, though today has a feast for June 15th. This Saint would not be known to us except for the biography compiled by his disciple, Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos. Soon after the discovery of the relics of the unknown St. Evdokimos, a monk of Vatopaidi had a vision of the Saint, who let it be known that his real name is Savvas. The Vatopaidi tradition continues to identify St. Evdokimos with St. Savvas, despite the fact that St. Savvas is recorded as having died in Constantinople.


Miracles

The Great Synaxarion tells us that the holy relics of St. Evdokimos worked many miracles. However, only two are recorded.

One monk of the Monastery suffered terribly from tuberculosis and began to lose hope because he was not getting better. He then entreated St. Evdokimos saying: "I am a sinner, Holy One, yet I dare to pray to you because I understand that God has given you the grace to heal. And since many have prayed to you and become well, I beg you to work a miracle for your humble servant and show the power of your holiness." He said this among other things until he fell asleep. In his dreams he saw an elegant monk who gave him a cup from which to drink. The sick monk took the cup and drank the whole thing, after which he said: "I thank you, Father, because I was thirsty and you watered me." The monk immediately awoke but felt the dream to have been more of a reality than a mere dream, since he could clearly taste of the drink of which was given to him by the monk. He also noticed immediately that all the pain of his stomach and lungs were gone. Thanking the Saint for his healing, he went and told the spiritual father of the Monastery named Nyphona.



Another monk of Vatopaidi named Gabriel was an educated physician, and one day was in Karyes for some task for the Monastery. While there he began to feel excruciating pain in his kidneys to the point where he could not sleep or even sit. He fanatically tried every method he knew of to alleviate his pain but nothing worked. During this time some monks began to mock him saying: "Physician, heal thyself" and would tell him to pray to St. Evdokimos because "the Saint is an even greater doctor than you". Monk Gabriel then challenged this statement saying: "If it is true that the Saint is a miracle-worker and can heal me, then I will make a reliquary for his sacred skull." That night he was able to catch a little sleep and in his dreams he saw a monk approach him and touch his kidneys, saying: "This is nothing, what are you yelling about?" Monk Gabriel said to him: "Do you mock me Elder? Do you not see what excruciating pain I have?" The Elder then told him "It is well" and left. His appearance was like that of a Saint to Gabriel, resembling closely the icon of St. Euthymios the Great. He asked one of the monks nearby: "Which Elder was here and left out the door?" The monk said: "No one has entered or left". Gabriel then got up and felt completely healed and realized that it was St. Evdokimos who appeared to him and healed him. He then said to the monks: "Bring me the skull of the Saint so that I may venerate it, because truly the grace of the Saint has freed me from my sickness". Venerating the skull of the Saint that was brought to him, he said: "I will silver-plate you, venerable head, because I believe that you are truly a Saint." In 1852 Monk Gabriel commissioned an icon of the Saint to be painted by Deacon Meletios of Vatopaidi.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Evdokimos, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.

Megalynarion
Those who embrace piously, the treasury of your relics, and celebrate your memory joyfully, shelter from every danger, Evdokimos thrice-blessed, O most admirable one.

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