By Protopresbyter Soterios Makrystathis
After graduating from the Middle Ecclesiastical School in 1958, the Lord called me to the task of being the head of a family, with my wife Maroulia, in 1959. In November 1960 I entered the Theological School of the University of Athens. On November 19th 1961, by the hands of the ever-memorable Metropolitan of Corinth Prokopios, I entered the divine service as a Deacon, and in 1963 as a Priest. I was entrusted by the Grace of the Lord, to give three boys a Christian upbringing: Andrew in 1962, Photios in 1965, and Nektarios in 1970.
The evening of December 21st 1974, my son Photios, who was at the English School and returning home, on the road by the shore of Piraeus, was hit tragically by an oncoming car. The doctors of the Neurosurgical Department of the State Hospital of Piraeus diagnosed: “Fracture of the left temporal bone, left otorragia, stiff left hemiplegia, diastasis of the lateral sinus, break and flooding of the cranial cavity with blood.”
None of the doctors were able to leave us any hope that he would be resuscitated, much less be healed. He remained in a comatose state for 27 days. Then the doctors began to remove the supportive machines, relating that they couldn’t offer any more medical help, and that it would be better to let him die than to keep him on life support as a “vegetable”, or ultimately, in the best case, paralyzed.
Then the boy’s mother, my Presvytera, was heartbroken, and without saying anything, went home to get his funeral shroud, for as the doctors informed us, his death was imminent in a matter of hours.
As she arrived home however, from her expression, our son Andrew became aware that something serious was happening to his brother.
Immediately after his mother left the hospital, I ran outside, stopped a taxi, and taking the boy’s grandmother — the mother of my wife — I hastened to the Monastery and the Holy Relic of Saint Patapios, for I loved the Venerable Saint, and my children love him, and since they were babies I brought them to the holy places I visited as a child. As we venerated the Holy Relic with great fervor, I took a piece of cotton with oil from the vigil lamp of the Holy Relic and two candles from the Cave, and I went immediately to the hospital and Andrew told me: "Cross the child, Dad, and he’ll get better, with the help of Saint Patapios."
Utterly moved, for it pleased the Venerable One to remind me through my child at that difficult time as I trembled, and with tears streaming down my face I crossed my nearly dead child! And, O Your immense love O Lord, in twenty minutes, for the first time in 27 days, my child moved and opened his eyes! He looked at me. He recognized me! He grasped my hand with his hand! And he told me:
“Dad, I’m in pain!”
I bent over him, and I kissed his wounded head and whispered: “You’ll get better my child!” The doctors ran. They put him back on their machines. They confirmed:
"The fractures fused, the head is cleared of blood, and the organs started working again! Full resuscitation!"
After about ten days he came home from the hospital. With a conservative medical regimen, he returned to school, the Fifth Grade. He continued normally. The next school year he was fully healthy!
And the miracle continues. As soon as he finished the Elementary School (1976), he said: “As a thank you to God, Dad, and I want to enroll in the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School.” So it happened. After six years (1982) he graduated from Rizarios and after tests enrolled in the Pastoral Department of the Theological School of the University of Athens (1983), and on December 1st 1987 he received his degree, with honors.
During his studies, he was focused on the ascetical fathers, studying mostly the teachings of the Mystical Fathers, especially St. Maximos the Confessor. In September of 1990 he enrolled in post-graduate studies at the University of Durham in England. On April 14th 1991 he entered the Holy Service, was ordained a Deacon, and on July 5th 1991, the feast of St. Athanasios the Athonite, he was ordained a Priest, and went on to receive the office of Archimandrite, as an unmarried Cleric, completely devoted to the Church and Holy Science!
Source: From the book about St. Patapios titled ΠΡΟΣΚΛΗΣΙΣ ΓΝΩΡΙΜΙΑΣ ΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΟΣΙΟΝ ΠΑΤΑΠΙΟΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΜΟΝΑΣΤΗΡΙ ΤΟΥ, Athens 1995. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
Note from the Translator: Unfortunately, Archimandrite Photios Makrystathis, while a Greek Orthodox priest in Sparta, was arrested in 2009 for possessing hardcore pornography involving children. Though this does not undermine the miracle transcribed above by his father and published in 1995, and despite the fact that he was saved from death at 9 years old by Saint Patapios and had excellent theological credentials, let this prompt us to always have our priests in our prayers to face their daily temptations so they be exemplary role models for the Orthodox Christian community. The devil saves his fiercest battles for Christian leaders to undermine them and the Christian Faith, and he spares none.