|Metochion (Dependency) of Saint Nicholas in Monoxylitis|
By Fr. Arsenios Katerelos,
Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Nicholas in Dibri, Fthiotidos
Let us relate the appearance of Saint Nicholas to the Kefallonian Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Paul in Mount Athos, Archimandrite Andrew. He was born here in Kefallonia, in Ancona, in 1904, and recently reposed in 1987. Indeed, he reposed, not by chance, on the Feast of the Presentation of Christ, which was celebrated in the Monastery of Saint Paul.
After the vigil, his funeral took place, which he followed in the Holy Spirit with his spiritual senses, this grace-filled friend and co-ascetic of Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov from Essex, England. Indeed, by the proposal and proxy of the illumined Elder Andrew, Elder Sophrony was the spiritual father of the surrounding area of the Monastery of Saint Paul at the time.
Elder Andrew left to the entire Holy Mountain, as well as the Pan-Orthodox world, the reputation of a holy man. The live appearance of the Theotokos he received at the Metochion in Monoxylitis - outside the Holy Mountain - is perhaps the best known, recent, moving, didactic and popular appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos.
There, then, in Monoxylitis, where the church honors Saint Nicholas, he saw Saint Nicholas in physical form in 1975. He saw an old man unknown to him who was a priest, who introduced himself as "Fr. Nicholas". This is what the Saint told him. And he asked Fr. Andrew to show him the way to Karyes, which he did. Then the unknown till then old priest went slowly-slowly along the road to Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos.
Papa-Andrew, as soon as he went to his cell, immediately reasoned that it would have been beneficial to invite the "stranger" who was walking to eat something, to gain strength for his later travels. So, in no time from that moment when he said good-bye to him, he came out of his cell and ran out to invite him back to eat. But he who introduced himself as "Fr. Nicholas" could not be found. He disappeared, inexplicably!
It must be noted that at that time the road to Karyes was without obstruction for at least ten minutes, so because there was visibility he should have been seen. But the unknown priest was obscure to him. He was nowhere in the horizon. Then the confused Papa-Andrew, although he could not explain what happened, simply said to himself: "Unfortunate for me that I wasn't on time to befriend the unknown traveler."
He ate, went to sleep, but when he woke up he was excessively and unaccountably changed. He had a divine joy and peace, transcending the mind, and his thoughts, which were furiously battling him until then, whether he should go as an abbot to another Monastery or if he should remain in the place of his repentance, unexpectedly changed after he met the unknown Fr. Nicholas, and within a deep divine peace he told him: "Now you are not for new abbacies."
Immediately after he went to church, moved and overjoyed, because his personal drama was completed, and seeing the icon of Saint Nicholas which he went to venerate, he was surprised to see that the depicted Saint looked exactly the same as the unknown priest that had soon before mysteriously come through, and in a wondrous manner immediately disappeared. After he wondered and said: "Well, couldn't my mind have recognized sooner?"
You see, my beloved brethren, even to holy people God, when He wants, "locks" the mind and when He sees fit He "opens" it. Then the spiritual father of Elder Andrew, Papa-Dionysios, told him: "Obviously, blessed one, it was Saint Nicholas. He came and took the heavy burden you were carrying." By this he meant the confusion of his thoughts. Let us note that this martyrdom of thoughts can be understood only by those who have gone through it and experienced it.
When Elder Andrew resigned as Abbot, the new Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Paul in Mount Athos was the most-revered Elder Parthenios, who is here with us today, and all of us have the great honor, joy and blessing to have him here with us in our midst, even as the liturgical overseer of our synaxis.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.