July 12, 2020

"The Greatest and Most Wonderful Thing I Experienced With Saint Païsios"

In volume two of the book Elder Paisios the Athonite (1924-1994): Testimonies of Pilgrims (published in Greek by Saint-Bearing Cappadocia Publishers), the following testimony is given by one pilgrim to the Holy Mountain regarding an incident that testifies to the divine glorification of Saint Paisios.

I experienced great and wonderful things with that holy laborer of our Lord. I’ve left for last the greatest and most wonderful incident with Saint Paisios. It happened at the feast of the Monastery of Koutloumousiou [on the Holy Mountain, which celebrates on the Transfiguration].

During the course of the vigil I was inside the katholikon. By the light of the lamps and a few candles, the prayerful atmosphere in the church reached its peak. I wasn’t used to standing for such long services, though. About eight hours after the start of Great Vespers, around 4 o’clock in the morning, I felt exhausted.

So I decided to leave the church for a bit and take a break. As I went out, when I was still in the inner narthex, I noticed a light to the left of me which resembled something like the light of the flash on a camera, but which didn’t bother the eyes.

I turned around spontaneously to see where it was coming from and what it actually was, because at the time the only lighting in that part of the church were two oil lamps and two candles. Looking at the line of monks in their prayer-stalls, I saw that this light was coming from the head of one of the elders, who was bent low. There must have been more than forty fathers in the inner narthex at that moment.

Without another thought but with a certain reluctance, I went towards this monk, to see who it was. The closer I got, the more intense the light became. As I approached, without meaning to, I touched him on the shoulder.

He lifted his head and looked at me. Immediately, the light was lost. The monk was none other than Father Paisios, who had been lost in contemplation in the Light of the Transfiguration.

As soon as I touched him, he landed back in earthly reality!

He seemed a little annoyed, but still smiled. When I asked him about it, he said: "Hush hush, my child. Let’s not disturb the other elders" (who, I have to say, hadn’t noticed anything).

I went outside into the courtyard feeling full of joy and blessed by the Grace of the Light. Then I was filled with a divine fragrance, an inconceivable divine fragrance, so powerful that, for some moments, I had difficulty breathing.

But my joy was twofold, because that fragrance came as confirmation of what I had just experienced. The exultation I felt was beyond description.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.