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May 7, 2010

Saint Nilus the Myrrhgusher (+ 1651)

St. Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher (Feast Day - November 12 and May 7)

Saint Nilus the Myrrhgusher of Mt. Athos was born of pious parents in Greece, in a village named Hagios Petros, in the Kynouria region of the Peloponnese. He was orphaned in his youth and was raised by his uncle, Hieromonk Makarios. In 1601, they went to live at the Holy Monastery of Malevi, dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. Having attained the age of maturity, he received monastic tonsure and was found worthy of ordination to deacon, and then to the priesthood.

The desire for greater monastic struggles brought uncle and nephew to Mount Athos in 1615, where Makarios and Nilus lived in asceticism at a place called the Holy Rocks or Hagios Petros, where St Peter the Athonite had lived years earlier, the site of today's Skete of Kavsokalyvia. After buying a piece of land for a single gold coin from Great Lavra, they built a kellion.

Upon the repose of St Makarios, the venerable Nilus, aflame with zeal for even more intense spiritual efforts, found an isolated place on a cliff almost inaccessible for any living thing. With the help of another monk he descended to the cave to live there alone, in prayer and fasting, until his repose. At a shallow place in the cave, Fr. Nilus built an altar dedicated to the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.

Upon his departure to the Lord in 1651, St. Nilus was glorified by an abundant flow of curative myrrh, for which Christians journeyed from the most distant lands of the East.

The Myrrh-Gushing Relics

On his deathbed, St. Nilus told his disciples to bury his body in a small cave beneath the cave where he lived, sternly forbidding anyone to disturb his body. Although the saint did not seek human glory during his life or after his death, the Lord glorified him in the following way. From his grave, a fragrant myrrh began to flow through a small opening in the cave and down the side of the cliff into the sea. Soon this miracle became widely known, and ships would come to collect the myrrh. The place where the myrrh streamed down the cliff came to be called Karavostasion (the boat stop). The myrrh had curative properties, and many people were healed of their illnesses.

Once, two monks came to the cave and tried to find the relics of St. Nilus. While they were digging, a large rock fell from above, crushing the foot of one monk. Unable to help his companion, the other monk went to get a mule and someone to help him carry the injured brother from that place.

As he lay there in agony, the monk saw St. Nilus before him. He asked the monk what was the matter. The monk explained what they intended to do and how he had been injured. The saint said, "How dare you, poor man, attempt something so dangerous without the saint's express wish? Take care in the future that you do not attempt a task beyond your ability, and without the will of God."

St. Nilus touched the monk's leg, and he was made well. With great joy he started back to his cell. On the way, he met his companion who was leading a mule. The monk who was healed told the other how he had been healed by St. Nilus. Then they both glorified God and St. Nilus. After this, no one dared to disturb the saint's relics.

Please also read The Truth About the Prophecies of Saint Nilus the Myrrhgusher, which are false prophecies attributed to St. Nilus, and are in fact delusions of a possessed monk.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thrice-blessed Nilus, thou didst live as a God-pleasing monk on Mount Athos, seeking the Lord in prayer and fasting, and thou didst become a pure vessel of the Spirit shining with rays of virtue upon the faithful. And now thou dost enlighten those who cry to thee: Glory to Christ Who hath glorified thee, Glory to Him Who hath sanctified thee, Glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.