May 27, 2019

The Wondrous Relationship Between St. Iakovos Tsalikes and St. John the Russian

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis would regularly visit the Shrine of St. John the Russian in Prokopi, often when he would travel to see the doctor in Athens. He very much loved St. John the Russian. During one of his visits, the following took place, as he recalled:

“Once, I saw the Saint alive inside of his reliquary. I asked him: 'My Saint, how did you live in Asia Minor, what virtues and blessings did you have?'

The Saint responded to me: 'I slept in the cave in which was the stable and covered myself with straw to take cover in the winter so I wouldn’t freeze. I had humility and faith.'

He then said to me: 'Wait, Father Iakovos, because now two people have come to pray for a sick child. Wait until I go help him.'

Immediately the reliquary appeared empty, because the Saint left. In a short while, he returned, though I didn’t see how he did, but I saw him inside his reliquary like a living man!”

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In the beginning of 1989, Elder Iakovos became very distressed by afflictions that befell people he knew and loved. He received a phone call from the village of Prokopi. Father John, the priest in charge of the Shrine of St. John the Russian, had just come back from America where he had undergone heart surgery. In spite of all odds, the difficult by-pass operation was successful. St. John the Russian had also been present and directed the effort! The doctor in charge acknowledged, in fact, that some power was guiding his hand.

Despite his own bad health and the bad weather – it was winter – Father Iakovos visited with Father John in his house. Not only that, but upon arrival, he also asked forgiveness: “Excuse me for troubling you, but I had to come and visit the servant of the divine John the Russian!” The people in the house thought that some bodiless, weightless angel had entered the home, for his figure emitted a serene light. Seeing the incision in Father John’s leg where the veins had been removed for the by-pass, Elder Iakovos stooped – rather, fell down – and embraced Father John’s legs. Blessed Elder Iakovos, now in his latter years, had great respect for priests and thought that priests were somehow angelic.

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On some occasions, in a miraculous fashion, the sacred relic of St. John the Russian would change sides on its own, often in front of people who witnessed it, and they would hear the noise which accompanied it. In 1990, Elder Iakovos was present when this miracle took place. When he and others witnessed it with their own eyes, the people were shocked and afraid, but the Elder reassured them, saying: "My Christians do not be afraid, for the Saint is alive and he simply changed sides."

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Two Saints Elder Iakovos had a special relationship with and whom he invoked when he needed to were St. John the Russian and Venerable David of Evia. When he would call upon both, he felt that St. John was able to respond quicker because he died as a young man, while Venerable David took a bit longer since he died as an old man.

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Elder Iakovos felt unworthy to serve as a priest at the Shrine of St. John the Russian in Prokopi when he was asked to. He would be asked: "Come, Fr. Iakovos, to liturgize at Venerable John's." He would respond: "Am I worthy as a peasant to stand before the divine John?"

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Whenever Elder Iakovos uttered the name of St. John, whom he would frequently call "divine John" and "Confessor", at the words "divine" and "Confessor" his voice took a majestic formality as though the Saint was a king before whom he stood.

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He would not only call upon St. John to help people in need, but he would see him alive outside of his coffin rushing to help people. In 1986 Elder Iakovos was asked: "Have you seen him outside?" He responded: "You see him in the morning when the Saint gathers in his coffin. There are times when he is not in his coffin."

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One day when Elder Iakovos had finished an examination from the doctor in Athens, he went to Prokopi to venerate St. John. As he knelt before the Saint's coffin, the Saint spoke to him saying: "I have a job to do right now and must leave. Do not accept to do Vespers until I return."

When the Saint returned, he said to the Elder: "Do you think I bless all those who come here? See that woman, who just venerated with her children, I did not bless her."

"Why?" asked Father Iakovos.

"Because she blasphemes her children."

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On 15 July 1990, which was a Sunday, in the morning, as soon as the Elder went from his cell to the church for the Divine Liturgy, he described with an ecstatic face to the fathers of the monastery, while in the sanctuary, how St. John the Russian, in a spiritual manner, told him the night before, as he stood before his coffin in Prokopi:

"They think I sleep, that I am dead, and the Christians do not count on me. But I am alive. I see everyone. My body is inside, but many times I come out of my coffin. I hasten among people to help them. There is much pain. They do not see me. I see them and I hear what they say. And I again enter into my coffin. But listen my Father and I will tell you. There is a lot of sin in the world, a lot of impiety and a lot of disbelief."

"Why do you say this, my Saint?" I replied. "Do you not see how many people come to your grace and venerate you?"

"Many come, Father Iakovos, but few are my children," added the Saint, and he continued: "This is why there must be a war, because there is a lot of sin in the world."

"No, my Saint," I said to him in anguish. " For seventy years I have lived on the earth. As a young child I was always in wars and tribulations. In Asia Minor where I was born we were exiled by the Turks in the 1920's, as well as when we came to Greece with the Germans many were killed. And now in my old age there will be another? If there is sudden war, my Saint, many souls will be lost before they repent."

"There must be war, there must be war, there must be war," replied the Saint sadly with a steady voice.

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Below is a recording of Elder Iakovos narrating some of the things mentioned above: