April 19, 2019

Papa-Chrysanthos on his Acquaintance with St. Savvas of Kalymnos

By Hieromonk Chrysanthos of Saint Annas

I was a young child when I went to Pangrati [a neighborhood in Central Athens] to the Ascension, which was a dependency of the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra, where there was a spiritual father called Panaretos, an Athonite from Katounakia. He had two Elders, that had left the Lavra of Saint Savvas the Sanctified in the Palestinian desert, and went to the Holy Mountain, to Katounakia, at the small Monastery of the Zoodochos Pege. The only occupation of Father Panaretos was to teach the Prayer of the Heart. All of Greece would come to Athens to confess to him. Around eight thousand people would confess to him. Every Saturday night he did a Vigil, and the people of Piraeus and Athens, thirsting for spiritual things, would attend the Vigil.

One Sunday, during the summer season, I saw a short blond-bearded man, who was standing under the pine trees behind the sanctuary. My heart leaped and sought something from this Hieromonk. But because he was extremely quiet, I could not talk to him, and not only me, but the rest of the young people who wanted to become monastics.

The blessed Papa-Panaretos had a submissive named Nikodemos. I approached him with great reverence and asked who the blond-bearded man was standing behind the sanctuary. He told me that it was Papa-Savvas from the Holy Mountain and that he knew Iconography.

Beholding the virtue of Papa-Savvas the people of Piraeus would take him into their homes and he would confess them. Every day he would go to the Ascension for a daily Liturgy, for since it was a dependency of Simonopetra Monastery, they would have daily Liturgies.

After these things I went to the Holy Mountain and found out a little who this blessed Papa-Savvas was. I learned that he was from Bougázi, in the Strait of the Dardanelles, and that he came to the Skete of Saint Anna where he submitted himself to the Elder of the Kalyva of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Elder Auxentios, who was a maker of spoons.

Papa-Savvas possessed the Prayer of the Heart, which, when it is acquired by the grace of the Tri-hypastatic God, frees someone even from the blameless passions, such as sleep, food, and shelter from the cold. I also heard that when he would go to various places, the thrice-blessed one would work at his iconography, and never took money from anyone. He would Liturgize every day, primarily at the Ascension in Athens and the Monastery in Aegina of Saint Nektarios.

It was not heard if he talked to people. But how could he speak when the Holy Trinity, our God, dwelled within him, to Whom he said according to the Song of Songs: "You are the sweetness of all those in love with you, their insatiable desire!"

No one knew of his secret struggles, but our All-Good God, through holiness, which was given to him, teaches us that everyone who loves Him, will be given His Kingdom. And the body that struggles with them, God does not allow to be given to the worms, but it remains incorrupt, so that when Christians venerate them with reverence, they will receive from Him their requests and necessities.

Source: From the book Γεροντικαί Ενθυμήσεις και Διηγήσεις ("Remembrances and Teachings of the Elders") by Hieromonk Chrysanthos of Saint Annas. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.