November 22, 2014

The Metropolis of Sweden Acquires the Monastery Established by Elder Eusebios Vittis

On Sunday 16 November 2014 a ceremony took place in the Cathedral of Saint George in Stockholm transferring the Hesychasterion* of Saint Nicholas in Rattvik to the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and all Scandinavia.

In his homily, His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden said: "Our earnest desire and goal was to establish a monastery to attract both Christians and non to a spiritual center of prayer, asceticism and spiritual reflection for our Orthodox brethren in the five countries that make up the Metropolis of Sweden. The soul of the blessed founder of the Hesychasterion, Archimandrite Eusebios Vittis, must be rejoicing and resting after the memorial service we conducted for him today. The transfer of the Hesychasterion to the Holy Metropolis was his innermost desire."

His Eminence prayed that the Lord lead pure souls with inner zeal, a spirit of self-denial, obedience and deep piety to this blessed hermitage, who will inspire and guide people that enter the gate of the monastery for spiritual support.

The Metropolitan thanked the members of the Board and all members of the Brotherhood/Association of Saint Nicholas for their prior dedication and contribution to the conservation of the Hesychasterion and the projection of the spiritual ministry of Elder Eusebius, and asked them to continue with the same zeal in pursuit of this pious purpose, and requested the moral and financial support of all to achieve the above purpose.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

About Fr. Eusebios Vittis

He was a simple man, distinguished and humble, learned and possessing many spiritual gifts; one who had experiences similar to the Fathers of the Church and divinely enlightened; a teacher who dedicated his life to the salvation of the soul of his fellow man.

This is how his disciples characterize Hieromonk Father Eusebios Vittis, who reposed at the age of 82, in his Hesychastirion in Faya Petra of Sidirokastro (Greece), where he spent the final years of his life in prayer. His desire was that his death would remain unknown until his burial, and for his funeral to be performed by a simple cleric and one lay person, without anyone else present. The Church chose, however, to bid him farewell as a man of such uniqueness so deserved. The service for the departed was performed at the Metochion of the Athonite Monastery of Gregoriou, in the Church of the Dormition in Stavropolis, and was presided over by Metropolitan Barnabas of Neapolis, Metropolitan Makarios of Siderokastro, and Metropolitan Meletios of Koulouez. Although the funeral was not announced, crowds of people flocked to the church to bid the spiritual instructor a final farewell. Afterwards, he was laid to rest in the Hesychastirion of Fayas Petras, where for the first time, the presence of women was allowed.

“Fr. Eusebios was an attraction to thousands of souls of every class; he was a spiritual father who was recognized throughout all of his life by scholarly people,” describes Mr. Stylianos Kemetzetzidis, owner of the publishing house Orthodox Κipseli, a disciple of the Hieromonk and publisher of some of his books. “He was very humble. He did not want his name to be put on any of his books and he signed them with a pseudonym "Kexri" (translation: millet seed), signifying something "unimportant." With great effort I convinced him to allow us to publish his name in his books. He did not allow himself to be photographed, nor did he ever talk about himself. He also did not want to take a financial share in his books; money did not interest him. He had both divine and acquired gifts,” says Mr. Kemetzetzidis.

The news of his falling asleep spread to his disciples and throughout many countries abroad, where his charitable acts had effected so many. “I came from Romania. We are interested in translating his book,” mentions Mr. Ovidios Lazaresku.

Biographical Note

Hieromonk Eusebios Vittis came from Ptolemida. He began his priestly work as a clergyman in Sweden. The Holy Hesychastirion of Saint Nicholas in Rattvik, Sweden is entirely his own work. There he withdrew in 1973, with the aim of devoting himself to prayer, meditation and writing. Fr. Eusebios kept the Athonite schedule, and as recorded in the bulletin of the Metropolis of Sweden and all Scandinavia (1979), the Monastery was seen throughout the years as being “the sleepless lamp of the Metropolis of Sweden and a place of spiritual healing for the faithful.” The visitors of the Holy Hesychastirion found comfort, rest for the soul, and the road leading toward salvation. In 1980 Fr. Eusebios returned to Greece, upon the exhortation of his spiritual father.

A great and distinguished theologian, a man of humility and divine enlightenment, a tireless writer, knowledgeable in many foreign languages and translator of ascetic texts, a respected confessor, a lover of patristic studies, and a hesychast, Fr. Eusebios drew thousands of faithful people to him throughout his lifetime from all parts of Greece and Cyprus. “Under his epitrachelion (priestly stole) many people found rest, were revitalized and found meaning in life,” says the nun-abbess Epiharis, who lives at the Monastery that Fr. Eusebios built using the offerings of the faithful, in Siderokastro; and she knew him during all of the years of his ministry.

* A hesychasterion is a small cell or hermitage where intensive hesychasm is practiced, distinct from the cenobitic hesychastic life of a monastery. Legally and canonically, a hesychasterion is a hermitage established with the blessing of the diocesan bishop but owned by the monastics of the hermitage, as distinct from a monastery, which is owned by the bishop. Thus, the monastics at a hesychasterion have a greater degree of independence, but of course no liturgical services are celebrated there without the blessing of the bishop.