January 22, 2014

Elder Bessarion: A Saint in the People's Consciousness

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

On 22 January of the year 1991, the humble and merciful Hieromonk of the Sacred Monastery of Agathonos, Elder Bessarion, reposed in the Lord, and sealed a life of asceticism, love, humility and sanctity, having moved imperceptibly and unsuspectingly among us. His funeral took place at his Monastery amid a crowd of believers. All day the prestigious Monastery of the Theotokos was covered with a thick layer of snow and there was a smell of an unusual fragrance. Along with the tears of the people for having been deprived of their benefacting Spiritual Father there also flowed the tears of the Panagia from the Icon which was next to the grave of the Elder. On the same day there occurred heavenly wonders and signs. For this reason the ever-memorable Metropolitan Damaskinos of Fthiotidos, who led the Funeral Service, said in his homily: "Today we are burying a saint."

His memory remained vivid even after his death. Everybody was talking, in every village and town of Fthiotidos, of the good Elder, who walked around with the icon of the Panagia, confessed the faithful, stayed overnight in their homes, taught with his love, with his simple life, with his acts of mercy and with his sanctity. In the consciousness of the people he is confessed to be a saint. Many spoke of miracles, which he did after death, and his grave became a shrine for all the pilgrims to the Sacred Monastery of Agathonos.

On 3 March of 2006 God confirmed the hidden holiness of the venerable Elder. With the translation of his relic, which took place out of necessity due to work being done at the east wing of the Monastery, God who glorifies His Saints revealed at the grave of the Elder his incorrupt and fragrant sacred relic, which after 15 years remained incorrupt and whole as it was on the day of his burial.

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece characterized the event as a "sign from heaven". That is, it was a message to our people and to our time, and the faithful people of our Church in these difficult times were strengthened in their faith.

Only militant atheism, which stealthily and methodically employed the ravenous hunger for gain in some media sources and naive journalists, began an unprecedented attack on the miracle and more generally against the Church with unique weapons of misinformation and falsehood. For a whole month they "chewed on their tongues" and "deceived" with headlines in all the Greek channels about Elder Bessarion. So the weak-voiced Elder became the loudest herald of sanctity and many became grounded in their faith and spiritual life.

23 years have passed since the day of his Dormition and 8 years from the day of his Translation. The venerable Elder is in the place of his rest, where throughout his priestly life he confessed the faithful, in the chapel behind the miraculous Icon of the Panagia Agathonos. And with the peace of God painted and embossed on his incorrupt and holy Relic, he accepts those who come to find rest for their souls and to teach everyone that "wondrous is God in His Saints".

The faithful people ascribe to him honors of a saint and all of us, the clergy and laity of Fthiotidos, expect God to show clearly what should be done about this hidden spiritual treasure, which has spiritually enriched and enriches with the gifts of Divine Grace the souls of those who seek the Lord.

The blessed Elder Bessarion the Agathonitis rests among the Saints "in ageless blessedness".

"Saint of God, intercede for us."


† Nicholas of Fthiotidos

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.