November 14, 2016

St. Gregory Palamas and the Healing of the Hieromonk with Head Pains

By Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos

There was once a hieromonk who took up the contest of virtue in a monastery at Thessaloniki. During his stay the contestant in piety was challenged by a trial of sickness. It was a grave sickness, known as algocephaly or chronic head pain. So serious was his condition that death was almost certain had not some medical treatment intervened. Although death had been kept at bay, there certainly was no suspension of the head pains. Initially, the pains occurred periodically, about once per month. As time drew on, however, the symptoms of this disorder manifested themselves two or three times per month. Afterwards, the pain recurred frequently and with increased intensity.

Through seven years, this condition continued, with no abatement, as he grew progressively worse. To onlookers, the infirm one appeared to lack sense perception. He appeared confused from his peculiar groaning. Once more, death seemed imminent, but this time he had contempt for any medical attention or remedy. How would this malady conclude? Indeed the hieromonk relinquished any hope for this life. Believing that this sickness would lead to death, he fastened all his thoughts only upon the future life. With sighs and wails to God, he sought a true repentance. He reproached himself for his former negligence and faults, but he also anguished because he had none to share his grief or to pray for the healing of his soul.

At this point, he remembered an old acquaintance, his friend, the late Archbishop Gregory Palamas. He brought to mind the hierarch's sanctity and divinely-inspired shepherding of the flock. He also profoundly regretted not being present when the blessed man was translated to the Lord. He then thought within himself: "If I had been in attendance to hear his final words and to receive his holy blessing, it would have proved a keepsake of protection and a weapon of defense for me."

After the hieromonk bemoaned his plight, he finally fell asleep and immediately beheld the following vision, which he related afterward: "It appeared to me that I was inside the sanctuary of the Church of the wondrous Saint Demetrios. I beheld an illustrious hierarch as he stood before the Holy Table performing the sublime Mystery. I then knelt before him and, with overwhelming emotion, besought him to give me his holy blessing. However, it appeared as though he did not give any notice to my request, for his mind was completely immersed in the service of the Mysteries and his attention was focused on the Holy Table. However, not much time elapsed when he turned towards me and placed his right hand upon my forehead, to the very spot where all the pain was concentrated. Then with his fingers, he made the sign of the divine Cross. It then seemed that from those fingers, sacred oil flowed forth with which seemed he anointed my face."

This was the vision of the hieromonk. When he awoke from his sleep, all traces of his former hopelessness, grief and sorrow vanished. He was no longer subject to head pains or any other symptoms. He then rendered exceeding thanks unto the Lord and His servant Gregory.

From The Life of Gregory Palamas.