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January 4, 2019

I Met Saint Nikephoros the Leper in 1961

Father Nikephoros, Spiritual Fighter and Guide

By Archimandrite Nikodemos Yiannakopoulos

I met Father Nikephoros in the year 1961 at the Hospital of Infectious Diseases, which was then a Leper Colony. We went, as a companionship of young people then, with the Deacon and later Metropolitan of Chalkida, Nicholas Selentis. He encouraged us to bring some joy to our socially isolated brothers, to embrace them, eat with them from their own plates, and to commune after them.

One of them was Father Nikephoros. The marks of the disease were clear on him. He was blind, mutilated and physically worn out. It could be immediately discerned however, that underneath the sick body was spiritual power, divine zeal, and an endless love and peace that entirely pierced you.

That which I especially remember was his fighting with demons. He received many attacks and occasionally the battles reached to a physical altercation. And when he subjugated them with the power of the cross, he struck them with the name of Jesus and forced them to confess their demonic activities. He said to them: "Tell me, bald one,* where were you tonight?" And when the demon confessed his defeat, Father Nikephoros rejoiced and glorified God. And when a certain Christian fell into their traps, he was sad and prayed.

For us his small hospital room was a place of spiritual help and exultation. We had before us a fighter of the "good fight" and we received strength. His boldness before the throne of God, with his fiery prayers, gave us the dew of the Spirit, filled us with spiritual enthusiasm, with divine zeal, even if for the writer zeal was easily mired.

With much simplicity, without many teachings, he was a spiritual guide, because he himself by his life was a source of teachings. He showed everyone, often even with his silence, that God spoke through him - "for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matt. 10:20).

May we have his blessing, and may he intercede that we will find mercy on the Day of Judgment.

* The term kasides is translated as "bald one", and is often used as a name for demons, because they are said to be bald from being scalded with the fires of hades.

From the book Νικηφόρος ο λεπρός by Σίμωνος Μοναχού. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.