March 8, 2020

Partaking of Holy Communion With Lepers and Those With Infectious Diseases

Elder Eumenios Saridakis

By Spyridon Theodore Koutsochristos

"Drink of this, all of you..."

The exhortation of our Lord Jesus Christ is clear to those who believe in Him.

Holy Communion is a provision of a Christian for the other life, this is what Communion is even for a confessed person on death row.

Orthodox clerics of our homeland communed lepers and tuberculosis patients, and then would consume the remaining Holy Communion, and when they were full of days they would depart from this life.

Examples of this were Saint Anthimos of Chios and Father Eumenios Saridakis, the first at the Leper Colony in Chios, the second at the Hospital of Saint Barbara for Infectious Diseases in Attica.

Saint Anthimos of Chios

By Dr. Irene Artemis, Post-Doc, PhD & MA - 
Associate Professor at the Hellenic Open University

At Sotiria Hospital, there are recorded testimonies of priests as well as metropolitans who used to commune tuberculosis patients with the same spoon and then consumed the remaining Holy Communion themselves. They even did it in front of the congregation, to show that the Divine Eucharist is life and there is no danger in it. Of course, prominent scientists also point this out, as stated by Ms. Eleni Yammarelou, a famous infectious disease specialist in Greece. Another typical example is the priest of Spinalonga, Father Chrysanthos Koutsoulogiannakis. "For ten years, the Hieromonk Chrysanthos Koutsoulogiannakis was the consolation of the lepers in Spinalonga. He would bless and commune the sick by reaching out to them and receiving Holy Communion from the same spoon without fear of the disease and its consequences." And of course, he never got sick.

Fr. Chrysanthos Koutsoulogiannakis and the Leper Colony of Spinalonga