April 12, 2016

Saint Akakios the New of Kavsokalyva (+ 1730)

St. Akakios of Kavsokalyva (Feast Day - April 12)


Although you are new Akakios in time,
You surpassed the labors of those of old.

Saint Akakios lived during the dark years of the Ottoman occupation. He was probably born a few years after 1630, in the village of Golitsa in Agrafa, which is known today as the village of Agios Akakios in the prefecture of Konitsa. His parents were pious and virtuous Christians, and with their work they were able to succeed in securing the necessities of life in those difficult years to raise the two children God gave them. But the untimely death of the father shocked the family and overshadowed their happiness. Anastasios, which was the secular name of the Saint, thus became fatherless at a very young age. The mother was comforted by her deep Christian faith and piety, and she alone assumed the burden of responsibility for the family, and raised her children in the education and admonition of the Lord.

From early on the words of the Gospel moved the heart of Anastasios and the flame of divine love warmed his young soul. He fervently and zealously felt an inclination to the monastic life. Thus he would withdrew from the noise of the world and sought the quiet of deserted places. There he dedicated his life to God, and spent his time in prayer and fasting. Soon thereafter he decided to completely abandon the world, and when he was twenty-three he went to Zagora in Volos. He settled in the Monastery of Sourvia, which was established by Saint Dionysios of Olympus, located in Makrinitsa of Volos and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

The abbot of this Monastery tonsured Anastasios a monk and renamed him Akakios. That night he was also granted a divine vision. He saw himself holding a lit torch, which had a brilliant light and lit up the entire area. Very quickly Akakios acquired all the monastic virtues and his soul sought absolute quietude and increased asceticism. For this reason, some time between 1660 and 1670, he went to Mount Athos.

Initially Akakios went to the area of Great Lavra Monastery and fled to a cave near the Skete of Kavsokalyva, where he lived as a hermit for a time. While there he visited the monasteries, hermitages and sketes and sought from distinguished and proven monks advice in the spiritual life. After a short while at Dionysiou Monastery, he removed himself to a secluded location near that Monastery. He remained there a long time and every Saturday he would descend to the Monastery and attend the Divine Liturgy.

He next went to a Skete of Pantokratoros, where he met his spiritual father from Sourvia Monastery, who had come to Mount Athos to learn ecclesiastical music. Then with the advice of Elder Galaktion he came to Kavsokalyva. He settled there for twenty whole years.

Saint Akakios had many divine visitations from Saint Maximos of Kavsokalyva (Jan. 13). He saw Saint Maximos in a priestly stole during the time of the Holy Service in the Kyriakon censing around the church and the fathers, and following him were another forty venerable-looking and righteous ones with their epanokalymmavchi [monastic head covering]. When Akakios saw this, he asked Saint Maximos: “Who are these, who are following you censing?” And he came and responded that they are those saved through him from the area of Kavsokalyva.

The exploits of Saint Akakios were extremely severe: in place of bread he ate dry grass, which he crushed with a piece of marble. When asked how much a monk ought to sleep, he said that for a true monk half an hour even was sufficient. He said, "In order to conquer the flesh, a monk must practice two virtues: fasting and vigil." In spite of his age and illness, he was an example of this.

Once, when the Venerable Father had come on a Sunday to the Skete church, the abbot Neophytos handed him his own staff and said, "Father, take the staff, and be the Superior for all these brethren until your last breath." Saint Akakios kissed the hand of the abbot, and accepted the staff with all humility. Although previously he had walked with a staff because of his age, from that time forward the venerable one no longer held a staff in his hand.

Saint Akakios was a spiritual guide to no less than three Neomartyrs: Saint Romanos (Jan. 5), Saint Pachomios (May 7) and Saint Nikodemos (July 11).

As the years passed and the area where Saint Akakios lived in asceticism was rugged and arid, he was forced to descend closer to the sea, where the Skete of Kavsokalyva is. There he resided in a small cave, which today bears his name.

Saint Akakios foresaw and foretold his death to his disciples that lived near him. Especially to Monk Athanasios, who had come from the Skete of Saint Anna to receive his blessing, did he say: "Now Athanasios, I am going somewhere far away and we will no longer see each other. May you have the blessing of our Panagia." These were his last words. After blessing the four cardinal points of the horizon he reposed in peace on April 12th, which was the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, in the year 1730, at the age of around 100 years old.

His relics can be venerated at the Skete of Kavsokalyva and Dionysiou Monastery. He is commemorated on April 12th, on Bright Thursday in the Saint's home village of Golitsa in Agrafa, and on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers in Kavsokalyva because that was the day of his dormition. He is also commemorated on the First Sunday in October as one of the Seven Venerable Saints of Kavsokalyva.

The Holy Water of Saint Akakios

The Skete of the Holy Trinity, in Kavsokalyva, is located in a very remote location of the Holy Mountain. The fathers there had long depended on collecting rain water for use within the Skete. However, at the prayers of Saint Akakios, a better solution was found.

A man who was adept at digging wells left for the Skete to become a monk. After prayer to the Most-Holy Trinity, Saint Akakios told this man to dig at a certain spot so that they would find water. This man tried three or four times to perform this excavation, but each time it would collapse (due to the work of the demons, according to Saint Akakios). But the Saint prayed, and it finally began to hold. Soon, they uncovered an incredibly clean spring of water to satisfy their uses. This spring is since known in Kavsokalyva as the "Holy Water of Saint Akakios".

The fathers of the Skete, in gratitude to the Most-Holy Trinity for granting them water, named their Katholikon or main church after the Holy Trinity.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
You were majestically non-wicked, Father Akakios, and your shining life was as an all-bright star, for you become an imitator of the former Venerables, and were made worthy to profusely receive divine gifts; do not cease to entreat the All-Holy Trinity, to grant to all the divine mercy.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
You have appeared, O Venerable one, to the Church as a newly-radiant star, clearly illuminating the fullness of the Orthodox, with your struggles, O all-blessed Akakios.

Rejoice the companion of the Venerables, and the most unerring guide of Monastics; rejoice O most-fruitful olive tree of non-wickedness, O all-blessed Akakios, the boast of Athos.