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April 10, 2012

Fr. Mitrophanes, Guardian of the Holy Sepulchre (2)

A certain lady approached him and asked him: "Elder, will we be saved?" And the Elder responded to her: "If you ask me, I will give you my opinion. I tell you that we will all be saved, as long as we make some effort. If I, who am the most sinful man in the world, say these things to you, then God, Who is ENTIRELY LOVE, will He not want such a thing? What do you say?"

When we would say, "Good Paradise, Elder!", he would say to us: "You give me the greatest blessing, but this will not happen by our works, because we are very sinful, but by the compassion of God."

Another time when I told him, "Good Paradise!", he said to me: "Pray that I may enter, and after, do not worry, all will be easy for you."

The Elder always had candy on his table, and once I said to him: "Elder, can I have a candy?" He responded: "One? Not one, but take three."

The last time he received Holy Communion, which he received from a priest of the Taxiarchi Church in Thessaloniki, Fr. Panagioti, "the entire Holy Communion issued myrrh" according to the priest's statement. Something similar to this was related to me by an Athonite hieromonk who asked that I not reveal his name. He told me that when he visited the Elder at Chariseio Nursing Home, "the entire chamber issued myrrh" where he lived. And as he approached him closer, to be certain if this was indeed happening, he noted that indeed "a very strong fragrance issued from the mouth of Elder Mitrophanes".

At the end of his life, a thought tormented him very much, whether or not he received the Great Schema, because due to his old age he began to forget. A relevant confirmation that he did was given by the Grigoriou Hieromonk Fr. Photios Kapsanis who gave him the Great Schema in the Metochion of the Monastery in Stavroupolis.

In the Church of Saint Nektarios, which is outside of the Chariseio Nursing Home, where he would attend church regularly, Fr. Mitrophanes would see "Saint Nektarios praying with the priest in the altar during the Divine Liturgy". He would also see "holy figures" in the Sacred Monastery of Eleftherotrias in Panorama Thessaloniki. He also saw Saint Nektarios at the funeral service of the Hieromonk Fr. Panteleimon, who served as secretary for the Holy Community of Mount Athos: "During the funeral service, Saint Nektarios took the lead."

When someone gave him their name, to commemorate them, "yes" he would say to him. "Why don't you keep the name, Elder, so you won't forget it", they would say. He responded: "Don't worry, because in my prayer I say 'and You saw Lord their name'. God knows your name."

He would frequently give the impression that he "quarreled with God". No, no, even though it appeared he quarreled with God, he wasn't, because the same person questioning was the same person answering. "My God, You have made a mistake. Does God ever make a mistake?" he answered. "Why did You keep me as a guardian of Your Tomb for 58 whole years and I quarrel with everyone? So you can correct yourself," he would respond, "because you Mitrophane are the most sinful person in the world, a zero!" Fr. Mitrophanes would respond again: "If I am, my God, a zero for my God, what else do I need? Is there any better thing than a zero from my God?" At other times he would say: "Here I am eating, drinking and sleeping, and You are paying my God." He was referring of course to His Holiness Metropolitan Panteleimon II of Thessaloniki, who payed for his care following his stroke at the Holy Sepulchre and was brought from Jerusalem to Chariseio Nursing Home in Thessaloniki.

That which made a great impression on me was that he never tired, because from sunrise to sunset, he would unceasingly receive people and be comforted.

And when, usually on major holidays, like Christmas or Pascha, his niece, Miss Popi, would take him to her house during these Holy Days, he would pretend that the climate was bothering him and for this reason he wanted to return again to Chariseio Nursing Home. This was not the truth however. The truth was that the Elder wanted to leave, because in Chariseio Nursing Home he would see many people who gave him solace, and he in turn, so as to not leave them hopeless, would bring them closer to God. If he said to you the same thing ten times, he said it with such Grace, that not only would it not tire you, but it made you "hang from his lips".

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos