January 27, 2012

Fr. Bessarion Korkoliacos Still Showing Signs of Holiness

Bessarion Korkoliacos (1908–1991) was a Greek Orthodox monk of the Agathonos Monastery, close to Lamia, Central Greece. He became a monk in his teen years and was regarded by those who knew him as an especially good-hearted cleric with humanitarian spirit. Bessarion became famous after the opening of his tomb in March 2006, during which Monks and coroners found his body in pristine condition. The event caused sensation and amazement not only in the local Community of Fthiotida but also to the whole of Greece, especially after exposure of the event on Greek television. The relics of Bessarion were inspected for first time by the retired professor and famous Athens coroner Panayiotis Yamarelos, who spoke on television about an extraordinary and inexplicable event. More specifically, the phrases of Yamarelos about Bessarion's extremely well preserved body and his statement regarding the face being in such pristine condition that it "was ready to talk to you", caused a commotion.

The Bishop of Fthiotida, Nicholas, said that the Church should not be in a hurry to announce any kind of sanctity of the monk Bessarion, and that the issue should be discussed at the Iera Sinodhos (Holy Synod) of the Orthodox Church of Greece in Athens. However, after the publication of this extraordinary event by the Greek media, hundreds of believers from the area of Fthiotida and other parts of Greece, arrived at the Agathonos Monastery in order to venerate the body of Bessarion.

On January 22, 2012 a Divine Liturgy with a Memorial Service was celebrated in honor of Fr. Bessarion at Agathonos Monastery. Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida, who celebrated the Divine Liturgy, noted:

"21 years have passed since the day Elder Bessarion reposed and 6 years since the uncovering of his relics and the grace of God preserves the body of the saintly spiritual father incorrupt as a witness to his holiness and as an affirmation to the conscience of the people, who in the years of his life honored him as a saint and now, after the wondrous events of the uncovering of his relics proclaim his virtuous way of life and his plenteous almsgiving. Despite the falsehoods of some Fr. Bessarion maintains the signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his body and is for the faithful a witness of faith and divine blessing."