January 4, 2013

Miracles of Saint Nikephoros the Leper

Father Eumenios would say how, one night, after having readied Father Nikephoros for sleep, he also went to rest in his cell. However, he could not sleep. He had great concern, perhaps because he did not do something well, or perhaps he forgot to close the oven. These and other things passed through his thoughts. He rose up, therefore, and went to the cell of the old Father.

To not bother him, lest he was perhaps sleeping, he considered it best not to knock on the door, nor to say "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us", and await for the response within of "Amen", as is done with monks. Very slowly he opened the door, and what did he see? He saw Father Nikephoros hovering one meter from the ground with his arms raised and praying.

His face shined like the sun. Once Father Eumenios saw this fearsome spectacle, without saying a word he very carefully shut the door and ran to his cell. There he fell with his face to the ground and began to weep with tears, lest he saddened the old Father for having not knocked on the door and seeing him in his wondrous stance.

He also wept for joy, because he saw for himself how great and virtuous his Spiritual Father was, Father Nikephoros. In the morning, as he went to minister to him as usual, he gave him a deep prostration and asked forgiveness for his misconduct. He, with a slight smile, immediately forgave him and told him not to reveal to anyone what he saw, as long as the same was alive.

Father Eumenios further said, that one night, many years after the repose of Father Nikephoros, since there were many mosquitoes and other insects in his cell, he considered it best to shut the door and window and to empty a large bottle of strong insecticide inside, and then he fell asleep. He would have never awoken again if Father Nikephoros did not appear to him and awaken him, grabbing his hand and bringing him outside of his cell. And, before Father Eumenios realized clearly what happened, he said to him: "My child, do not enter again into your cell, unless you first open the door and window, for it to air out." And then he immediately disappeared. Then, after a good amount of time, Father Eumenios recovered and understood the miracle that had occurred, giving thanks with all his heart to Father Nikephoros, his beloved old Father, who saved him from certain death.

The Hieromonk Father Amphilochios, from the Holy Monastery of Saint Paraskevi in Megaron, asserts that one day as he sat in his cell, he felt something giving off a fragrance. He looked to his left and right but could not find where this fragrance was coming from, which was growing. Then, at some point, his eyes fell on a big fat postal envelope. He opened it and saw a piece of holy relic, which was ineffably giving off a fragrance, and a note which read: "Father Nikephoros Tzanakakis, 1/4/1964". This holy relic was in the possession of another Hieromonk, who sent it to the Monastery for temporary storage protection, since he was going to be away. When Father Amphilochios removed it from the envelope and placed it reverently in a place where he had other holy relics, then the fragrance slightly decreased.

Monk Kallinikos, from Mount Athos, said: "When they gave me a small piece of the holy relics of Father Nikephoros, it was fragrant. Later, however, it stopped. One day, when I opened it to venerate it, I said to the old Father: 'My Saint, I am unworthy, but I entreat you, do me a favor and do not abhor me the sinner.' And - O the miracle! - it became fragrant again. After a few days, when I went once again to venerate them, as soon as I opened the box that contained the holy relic, an ineffable fragrance permeated throughout my entire cell. Immediately it came to me to write the following Megalynarion to the Saint: 'You are a living icon of virtue, and similar, Father, to Job in patience. You endured sorrows and were well-pleasing to God, therefore posthumously you were fragrant.'"

Hieromonk Matthew said that, after the repose of Father Eumenios, the Hieromonk Father Epiphanios, who was the head priest of the church in the Leper Hospital, found in a box some holy relics of Father Nikephoros. Therefore Father Matthew told him: "I want you also to give me a piece of the holy and sacred relics". Father Epiphanios told him: "I will personally bring it to you in Thessaloniki when I come". Indeed, after a short time, he brought it. They opened it and placed it in a box on the table. They also lit a candle. After a short time another priest came to visit Father Matthew. When he saw the holy relic, he venerated it, and said: "To whom does this holy relic which is giving off a fragrance belong?" Father Matthew said: "I did not believe him much, but we got up and went to venerate it. Indeed, it was fragrant, and as time went by, it became all the more fragrant. This lasted many days. I have venerated many holy relics of many saints, but this was the first time this happened."

A devout Christian, young in age, who for personal reasons wanted to remain anonymous, went one day to Father Eumenios and told him: "Father, I heard that you had holy relics of your spiritual father, Father Nikephoros. I wanted you to give me a portion for a blessing, to protect my family." Father Eumenios gave him a piece. The young man took it, wrapped it piously, and put it in his shirt pocket - it was summer time - and he then left with his motorcycle for home. On the way, even though he was going at a great speed, he could smell a continuous ineffable fragrance. Even though naturally, as he would say, "because of the speed the wind should have taken the fragrance", still the fragrance surrounded him. The most important thing is this. When he got home, he said to his wife: "Come quickly to kiss a holy relic I brought." His wife, when she went to venerate, was thrown backwards. Frightened, she yelled, "It burned me! It burned me!" She later asserted: "When my lips approached to kiss the holy relic, I felt an intense heat, like something was burning, which is why I became frightened and was thrown back." From that time this woman became more faithful, because until then she was indifferent to spiritual things. They then placed the holy relic on their proskynitarion and light a vigil light for it every day.

Source: From Σίμωνος Μοναχού, Νικηφόρος ο Λεπρός της καρτερίας αθλητής λαμπρός, Β΄ Έκδοσις, Εκδόσεις «Ο Άγιος Στέφανος». Translated by John Sanidopoulos.