November 19, 2014

The Athonite Who First Proposed the Canonization of Saint Nektarios

By Bishop Chrysostomos of Rodostolou

I had the joy to meet the perennial and virtuous hesychast Abimelech and to receive his prayers and admonitions. He was a beloved bosom friend of Saint Nektarios, the Metropolitan of Pentapolis, and maintained correspondence with him, while he himself was invited to visit Aegina to come and give admonitions to the nuns of the Monastery that Saint Nektarios established there. He responded with hesitation and humility: "You the enlightened and knowledgeable teacher and hierarch urge me the miscreant to urge and admonish the nuns?" Saint Nektarios responded with equal humility: "I speak and teach based on studies and theories, while you have Athonite experience and praxis."

Probably few know that the first movement for the official proclamation of the Church for Nektarios of Pentapolis to be a Saint (the term "making a saint" is incorrect) was made by Elder Abimelech the Mikragiannanitis, who proposed and urged this as well as the publication of his known miracles, and for this initiative of his he received many harsh criticisms from various people who opposed this in the world, as well as from various extremist zealots on Mount Athos.

Elder Abimelech Mikragiannanitis (1860-1965)

Below we will quote a few of the proofs:

"We all remember that in a clinic in Athens, a few years ago, the Metropolitan of Pentapolis (in Egypt) Nektarios died, and he was buried like all Bishops... Not even five days expired after his death, when there emerged an Athonite Monk, silent and inconspicuous, called Abimelech, to dare request the sainthood of Nektarios. And he began in 1921, in Volos, to publish the book titled Panegyrikon, in which he lists the miracles of Nektarios that were known to him, yet unknown to the Church, and he is ready for the right time for when the Church proclaims his sainthood." (Periodical Romanos O Melodos, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 11, 12; 1993)

Monk Arsenios Koteas (1881-1978)

"They have prepared a new synaxarion titled Discourse of Praise for the Newly-Appeared Saint, Formerly of Pentapolis, the Sacred Nektarios and His Incorrupt Sacred Relics. What is to be believed from what is subsequently read therein of the completely imaginary miracles, that indeed Nektarios was such a Saint, who was acquainted with Abimelech, who in turn took care to collect so many miracles, even though the Metropolis of Athens has not given its testimony?... The Abimelechian miracles will be much more silenced with the passing of time when it will be possible to rebuke them. A Sacred Service to him is even ready and compiled, as proposed by Abimelech from his fellow ascetic Gerasimos Dovrianitos, that young aspiring monk, who in good faith is attached to Abimelech, and has received Nektarios as a Saint. Such are the effects of chronic hypocritical diplomacies and theompaixia (mockery of God)!" (Arsenios Koteas, Fryktorion (Beacon), Piraeus 1935, pp. 27-38, and Daktylodeiktis (Finger Pointer), 1953, p. 16.)

Source: From the book ΩΔΗ ΣΤΑ ΑΜΑΡΑΝΤΑ, ΣΤΟΝ ΑΘΩΝΑ (An Ode to the Imperishable, to Athos). Translation by John Sanidopoulos.