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December 19, 2012

Blessed Symeon, the Simple Porter of Piraeus

In 1922 there came from Asia Minor with the refugees a Greek orphan named Symeon. He settled in Piraeus in a small shack and there grew up by himself. He had a carriage by which he did the work of a porter, carrying things to the port of Piraeus. He was illiterate and did not even know many things about our faith. He had blessed simplicity and simple unquestionable faith.

When he came to the age of marriage he was betrothed, had two children, and moved with his family to Nikaia. Every morning he went to the port of Piraeus to make his little bread money. However, each morning he would pass the Church of Saint Spyridon, enter within, and stand before the icon screen. Then he would  remove his hat and say: "Good morning, my Christ, it is Symeon. Help me to make my bread."

At night when he would finish his work and pass the church, he would again enter and stand before the icon screen, saying: "Good evening, my Christ, it is Symeon. I thank you that you helped me today once again."

And so did the years of blessed Symeon pass. Around the year 1950 all the members of his family fell ill with tuberculosis and reposed in the Lord. Symeon was left all alone and continued his job without complaint and never failed to pass by the Church of Saint Spyridon to wish Christ a good morning and a good evening, asking his help and thanking him.

When Symeon aged, he became ill. He entered the hospital and was hospitalized for about a month. A matron from Patras asked him at one point:

"Pappou, you have been here so many days, yet no one has come to visit you. Do you have no one in the world?"

"My child, every morning and evening Christ comes and consoles me."

"And what does he say, Pappou?"

"Good morning Symeon, it is Christ, have patience. Good evening Symeon, it is Christ, have patience."

The matron thought this was strange and invited her Spiritual Father, Fr. Christodoulos Fasos, to come and see Symeon, since perhaps he was deluded. Fr. Christodoulos visited him, they had a conversation, he asked the question of the matron, and Symeon made the same response.

During the same morning and evening hours that Symeon would go to the church and greet Christ, now Christ greeted Symeon. The Spiritual Father asked him:

"Perhaps it is your imagination?"

"No, Father, I am not delusional. It is Christ."

"Did he come today?"

"He came."

"And what did he say?"

"Good morning Symeon, it is Christ, have patience. In three days I will bring you near to me, early in the morning."

The Spiritual Father every day went to the hospital, spoke with him, and learned about his life. He understood that this was perhaps a blessed man. On the third day, in the early morning, he went again to see Symeon to confirm if the foreseeing of his death would come to pass.

Indeed, as they were chatting, Symeon suddenly shouted: "Christ has come!", and he reposed in the sleep of the righteous. May his memory be eternal. Amen.

From Ascetics in the World (ΑΣΚΗΤΕΣ ΜΕΣΑ ΣΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟ), 2008, pp. 350-351, Halkidiki. Translated by John Sanidopoulos. Photo depicts a random sketch of a porter.