June 4, 2019

Archbishop Elpidophoros Explains How Elder Iakovos Tsalikes Came to Be Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

In an earlier post we spoke of the vow the newly-elected Archbishop of America Elpidophoros made to visit the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia where Saint Iakovos Tsalikes served for many years as abbot. We now have a recording of the sermon he made when he served the Divine Liturgy there on May 30, 2019 to fulfill his vow before coming to assume his duties in America. The entire sermon, where the Archbishop gets very emotional, can be heard in the video below. Among the things he reveals is how Saint Iakovos Tsalikes came to be canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate when he did in November of 2017, just 26 years after his repose.

In the video he explains his story of how Saint Iakovos appeared to him in his sleep on the night of August 31, 2017. He had never heard of him before this time, never saw a photo, nor read about him in a book, as far as he could recall. Elder Iakovos didn't say anything to him at the time, but his appearance was embedded in his mind, despite the fact that, as he says, he never remembers his dreams. Not many days after this, while at the Phanar, a gentleman took out a photograph from his pocket that depicted the Saint in front of some trees (see photo below). The Archbishop, who was the Metropolitan of Prousis at the time, asked him who it was in the photo. The gentleman was perplexed and asked: "You don't know him? This is Elder Iakovos Tsalikes from Evia." "No," the Metropolitan replied, "is he still alive?" This inquiry was made because he realized that this was the hieromonk that appeared to him just days before.

When he found out he was no longer among the living, he went on the internet and searched for information about him, and he read everything he could and heard various homilies about him. Among the things he read was that the papers had been submitted for his canonization by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Upon learning this, he went to the Chief Secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and inquired on this matter. The Chief Secretary confirmed the paper work had been submitted years ago, but the Holy Synod decided to wait on the matter at the time, but the long wait caused it to be forgotten. Immediately Metropolitan Elpidophoros went to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his office to bring up the matter of the canonization of Elder Iakovos. After confessing to him his experience, he said to the Patriarch: "He has become associated with your patriarchate. Perhaps it is the time for his canonization." He knew Patriarch Bartholomew would be open to this, since he had read that Elder Iakovos had prophesied his election many years ago as Patriarch. Not only this, but upon the elevation of Bartholomew as Patriarch, Elder Iakovos sent him 100,000 drachma from his monastery in order to pay for the Patriarch to offer his guests at his enthronement food and drink.

The Patriarch replied: "Indeed, I also consider him a Saint, and he is a Saint." This is how the process for the canonization of Elder Iakovos began. This was completed in November of 2017. Then in May of 2019, when Metropolitan Elpidophoros was elected Archbishop of America, before he offered the Grand Message of his election, he was approached to sign a few last things that required his signature as Metropolitan of Prousis. Among these the last was the Codex declaring the official canonization of Elder Iakovos, making it his last act as Metropolitan of Prousis, and thus completing the official canonization of Elder Iakovos. With this, the Archbishop becomes emotional at the 8:00 minute mark of the video. He also explains how Fr. Nikolaos Dionysiates from Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos gave him a piece of the vestment of Saint Iakovos, which he wears on himself. He concludes by explaining the importance of the saints and their holy relics for the Church, and how the foundation of every church is built on their sacred relics, since every church altar has a relic of a saint.