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Saints and Feasts of May 9

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Papoulakis: Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (7)

...continued from Part 6


A woman named Roza, of the Petalas family, was married in Akarnania. Her husband suffered from atrophy of his right arm, and this evoked repugnance within his insensitive spouse who openly expressed her revulsion for the afflicted man. After some time, however, she herself became ill with a more serious sickness, myelitis, which brought about a paralysis of the lower members of her body. Unable to raise herself from bed, she was moved from Akarnania to her paternal home in Exoge in order for her mother to take care of her. For three full years she suffered terribly, beyond any hope of human help. Realizing now the seriousness of her prior inappropriate behavior toward her spouse, she detested herself, recognizing that because of her callousness she had been abandoned to this chastisement by God. Finding no other consolation, the hapless and paralyzed Roza sought refuge in the unsalaried doctor, Elder Papoulakis, who went to visit her at her home in Exoge. Feeling sympathy for the sick woman, the holy Elder blessed her secretly and told her in a compassionate way, “My child, buy an oil lamp for the church of Saint Barbara and I will pray to God, and your faith will save you.” And so it happened. Having bought the lamp as the holy father had instructed, the former paralytic recovered her ability to use her limbs and in a short time became completely well, remaining ever grateful to the blessed one.


Dionysios Paxinos from Stavros related that Papoulakis had healed a woman and her child. The mother was suffering from a severe, festering inflammation of the eyes, and the child, from eclampsia, a seizure disorder. The Elder healed them through his prayer. Having made the sign of the cross over them with his staff, he conversed with them privately and disclosed to them what they were to offer in recompense if he healed them. This conversation was held in secret, at a distant and remote place.


Another time, while Blessed Joachim was coming from Saint Elias in Kioni, he became thirsty along the way. To a girl named Theodorella who offered him water, he foretold that she would become the wife of a priest, and then he blessed her. Indeed, later this happened just as Saint Papoulakis had prophesied.


In the community of Rapezi at Parga in Epirus, Papoulakis miraculously appeared to the priest there, without knowing the area by sight, and he told him to urge all those who had made votive promises to the church of Saint Barbara not to delay in fulfilling them. The priest did remind the donors, and they gathered together their votive offerings and sent them by boat for Saint Barbara’s. Papoulakis foresaw the delivery and was waiting at Mavronas for the ship’s arrival; he was there to take delivery of the offerings, without anyone having informed him of their arrival.


Once, blessed Papoulakis wanted to go over to Preveza, and he proposed to a ship’s captain who was preparing to go there that he take him along. The captain, however, failed to notify him when he set off. After he arrived at the dock of Preveza, he was astonished to see the Elder walking on the shore, because there was no other ship, nor was there any other means to carry him across. Stunned and ashamed, the captain bowed low to him and asked forgiveness for his indifference.


One time, again in his own area, a mentally ill woman of loose morals had given birth to an illegitimate child, and in order to be rid of the infant, she put it in a roasting pan and lit the oven in order to burn it up. From where he was, Papoulakis foresaw her scheme and quickly sent an old woman to avert the evil deed. They gave the child to be raised in a suitable environment, and the sick woman was placed in a psychiatric hospital on Kerkyra (Corfu).


A young woman from Crete, one of the refugees of 1866, suffered for a long time from arthritis and from a stiffening of her right knee. Once when blessed Papoulakis saw her, he felt sorry for her; he made the sign of the cross over her with his staff, accompanied by a suitable prayer. After a short time, the sick woman was healed and was able to walk normally.


When the blessed Elder was building the church of Saint Barbara, at one point the project had financial difficulties, and he was unable to pay the workmen. Having decided to ask a certain wealthy man in Stavros named Nicholas to help with the situation, he went to visit him at his home. The first meeting was cool and reserved, even though the man nonchalantly asked the Elder how the construction was going. “Fine,” answered the Elder, “but we are in need of money; this is why I’ve come to you, to ask your help so that we can pay the workers from Anogi.” “And how much are you looking for, monk?” Nicholas asked. “I need sixty talers (a five-drachma coin),” replied the Elder. This seemed a lot to Mr. Nicholas, and he turned down his request, using the excuse that he did not have that much. “I pray you will always have everything you deserve,” said the Elder, and he left.

That night, however, the master was in turmoil because of continual terrible nightmares; in particular, he would see Papoulakis in front of him threatening him. Consequently, he was not able to sleep at all that night because of his distress and fear. In the morning, he called his attendant, Stathis Kouros, and told him, “Go quickly and find the monk. My conscience is bothering me and I suffered all night; I was wrong to refuse him.” As soon as the attendant met Papoulakis, and before he told him the reason for his coming, the Elder anticipated him, saying, “Is it true, Stathis, that the master has changed his mind?” “Yes, dear father, you terrified him during the night; he requests to see you right away.” They went together to Mr. Nicholas’s home, where he received him with respect and kissed his hand. “You ‘opened my eyes’ last night, holy monk, and I want to have your blessing. How many talers do you want?” “Sixty talers, and whatever else God inspires you to give,” the Elder replied. He readily counted out the sixty talers, and the Elder thanked the man and blessed him, after he had escorted him as far as the outer gate.


Another time, when Papoulakis was at Vathy on Ithaki, he went at a late hour and knocked at an old woman’s door. She asked who it was and what he wanted. The Elder insisted that she open up for him. When she opened the door and he went inside, he greeted her and then told her in an enigmatic way that heads of families must be attentive to their duties. She replied, “At such an hour, little Father?” “We monks don’t have hours, but hasten to wherever duty calls us. You should not leave the gunpowder close to the fire. As long as the coals are covered by their ashes they are inactive, but when the wind blows and removes the ashes, what will happen to the gunpowder?” “It will ignite, of course,” she responded. The elder repeated these words three times and left. As he was leaving, the woman was pondering what the meaning of these words might be, since she knew that Papoulakis never spoke without a reason. Then it occurred to her that in the house she had her two daughters in one room and a young stranger sleeping in another room together with her boys. The one daughter was having thoughts about sinning with the stranger. Consequently, the woman got her two daughters up from that room and kept them close to her for the rest of that night, thwarting the Devil’s plan. By the Grace of God, the blessed Elder foresaw what would have happened in the middle of the night, and rushed off to prevent the evil deed. Truly, “the wise man’s eyes are in his head” (Eccl. 2:14).


As D. Paxinos from Stavros, Ithaki, related, a poverty-stricken widow lived in his village with her children. Whenever they were in need of something, Papoulakis would provide for them by secretly tossing it through the hole in the door, without anyone having mentioned anything to him. Once, he sent one of the widow’s young children to take a letter to Abbot Agapios of the Holy Monastery of the Angelic Commanders (Taxiarchon) in Perahori. The young boy carried out the request and delivered the letter, which the devout Abbot kissed three times out of pious respect for the holy monk Papoulakis. Out of an excessive sympathy for the child because of his labor in bringing the letter, the Abbot pressed the boy to eat olive oil, even though it was Friday.

To be continued…Part 8
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