May 5, 2019

A Man Builds a Church Honoring St. Ephraim of Nea Makri for Healing His Nephew

It was the year 2000, and a low-powered motorcycle slid off the road in the town of Kounavoi of Heraklion, Crete in the village of Peza. A car however was coming out of a local gas station and collided with it violently.

The driver of the motorcycle, Michael, was 18 years old at the time, and had just finished high school and was preparing for the Army. Bystanders saw him lying on the ground, not moving, in a critical state, and immediately called an ambulance and transferred him to the hospital.

Immediately, Michael's family was informed and they rushed to the hospital. The doctors informed them that his situation was very dire, and he was unconscious and had head trauma, but, unfortunately, they did not have space in the ICU. He was therefore transferred to the Venizeleio General Hospital of Heraklion and the doctors in the ICU there saw him as "clinically dead"!

Mark Vasilakis, a merchant of Heraklion's main herb market and Michael's uncle (his mother's first cousin) related: "For 28-29 days Michael was hospitalized at Venizeleio, and his parents with all of us (relatives, friends, fellow-students, his girlfriend and now his current wife, and simply people who worried about him) were in a despairing situation outside of the ICU. After successive examinations, even a tracheotomy, doctors gave us no hope of survival, and we were all disappointed, until the morning of that day when I saw in the hospital a tall, elderly lady, with gray hair and robe, holding in her hands a bottle of oil and asking for some cotton. I began to look for cotton and I brought her some from the child's mother. The woman said: 'It is to cross your child with the holy oil from St. Ephraim.' And she gave me the cotton with the holy oil. I turned around to give it to his mother, and when I turned back she was gone! I ran to the stairs and to the elevator to thank her, and looked outside, asked doctors, nurses, nothing, no one else had seen her. Ultimately, upset as I was, I left the hospital.

As I was sitting despairing at home, something deep within me made me believe that Michael would live. In reality, two days later, the phone rang, and to the astonishment of all of us, my nephew was better, and slowly began to react to his surroundings, and we believe this because it was only two days after the woman appeared! 'Medicine cannot explain this,' the doctors said. When I related what happened to my priest and spiritual father, he said that it was the Panagia who appeared. When I asked, 'Why to me?,' he replied, 'Maybe you were the purest one.'

When Michael was discharged, he went to a hospital in England for tests. The doctors could not believe their eyes and said that there was no way that the child could have lived! However, fifteen years later, my nephew's health is great! Of course he has suffered greatly going to clinics, physical therapy, etc. They even performed a tracheotomy on him," said the 52 year old merchant.

"From the day that my nephew was saved," Mr. Vasilakis continued, "I desired to come to know St. Ephraim, for that was the first time I heard about him. I visited the Monastery of Saint Ephraim in Nea Makri. In the courtyard of the Monastery, at the mulberry tree where he was martyred, and where it was said that the newly-revealed Saint prayed as he was being tortured by the Turks, the holiness of the place, the total silence, the fragrance of the incense was something else. I wanted to learn more about him! I went many times until something wondrous occurred. I met the Abbess of the Monastery, Makaria. I never met her before nor did I tell her my story. But one day as I was sitting, something within me made me stop to meet her. Before I began to introduce myself, she said to me: 'Greetings Mark, I've been waiting for you for a while and you've been late.' And she herself told me the whole story regarding what happened with my nephew! I was dumbfounded staring at her.

When I returned to Crete I decided to make a gift to the savior Saint. With my wife and two sons we decided to build a church in his name in Rogdia. We purchased a plot, in 2004 the foundation of the Church of Saint Ephraim was set, and in 2007 we completed it.

All of our money from work goes here, to this chapel. We did it all by ourselves, without economic help. I don't want anything from anyone! Even the candles you light are free."

Today Michael is 35 years old and has been fully restored to health. He is a truck driver, a father of two children, and often visits the chapel his uncle built in order to pray. He does not remember anything about the accident, nor does he want to remember it.

Mark Vasilakis concluded by saying that in the difficult situations we experience as people, "we must pray, we must be near to God and His Church, both us and our children."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.