November 9, 2020

The Close Bond Between Blessed Salome the Fool for Christ and Saint Nektarios

Salome took care of several churches in Thermo. However, her spiritual refuge was the Church of Saint Nektarios. There she experienced intensely the presence of the Saint.

With her simplicity and reverence for the Saint, she developed a personal holy spiritual communion. She often saw the Saint, consulted him on spiritual matters, and together they visited the homes of the poor and sick.

This was not a unique phenomenon of Salome, but we find it in other sanctified modern figures, such as that of Saint Sophia, the ascetic of Kleisoura.

The experiences of the blessed Salome seem incomprehensible and paradoxical to us and refer us to similar experiential situations of the Holy Fathers.

The following incidents show us with how much comfort and naturalness she experienced her relationship with Saint Nektarios. Elder Joachim tells us some situations he himself experienced:

“Although we were cousins, for several years I had not met her. But I heard that she was God-fearing and had many gifts. I therefore decided to talk to her so that I could have my own opinion.

One winter I went down to Thermo and found Salome serving in the church of the Panagia. When the lighting of the lamps was done, I went up with her to the Chapel of Saint Nektarios and we sat outside the temple and chatted. She revealed to me for the first time that she sees Saint Nektarios, who advised her what to do, how to pray and generally admonished her.

In one of my first visits I had the desire to see Saint Nektarios too. After welcoming me, she told me to go inside her house, which had only two rooms. In one she had a lighted fire, because it was winter, and also a bed. She told me: 'You will sleep here, I will sleep on this rag down on the floor.' So it happened.

At night I got up to do my prayer rule and because it was very hot and there was a lot of light, I went to the next room. While I was beginning my rule, I suddenly heard a conversation, a male voice and a female one, that of Salome. I froze. I heard it very clearly. Was it Saint Nektarios?

Why doesn't Salome call for me? What should I do?

I did not dare to enter, so I continued my rule. When I finished, I covered myself with a blanket, because I was frozen from the cold, and I fell asleep.

At some point I woke up and went to go into the room, but I heard a conversation again.

I was nervous why Salome was not calling for me?

I decided to enter and let whatever happens happen! I entered and saw Salome standing up to tell me:

'Saint Nektarios was here.'

'Well, why didn't you call me blessed one?' She was silent. 'What did he tell you?'

'He asked me: "Do you have anyone here?" I have my cousin, I tell him and he answered me sternly:

"You will not put anyone in here again!"'

'What did you do for so many hours?'

'He was standing with his hands raised and praying. We prayed together. I went to ask him other things and he signaled to me, "shhh!", putting his finger to his mouth. "Silence Salome, silence is the greatest virtue!"'

Another time Salome revealed to me that, before we met, for the first time in several years, Saint Nektarios said to her with a smile:

'Tomorrow Salome, one of yours will come.'

'But I do not have any of my own. Perhaps it is Papa-Joachim? Then the Saint nodded smiling.'

When later I went to Mount Athos and asked her to pray for me, she said to me: 'When you do your prostrations, at that time, Saint Nektarios is by your side.' She told me exactly when I was doing prostrations."

Thus a clergyman from the same area as Salome could clearly hear her conversation with Saint Nektarios, but he could not see him.

Salome's niece Mrs. Maria Christogianni tells us:

"Once she went with my mother to light the lamps in Saint Nektarios, so they entered the church and closed the door. For a moment the door half-opened with a squeak and she said to my mother: 'Saint Nektarios came in.' But my mother did not see anything.

Another time she pointed to a stool and said: 'There sits Pappouli,' meaning Saint Nektarios."

The testimony of Mr. Angelis Georgiou is also shocking:

"At one of our meetings, she gave me a cross and said: 'Take this cross, it is blessed by Pappouli!' This is how she called Saint Nektarios.

'He was here a while ago and we were talking.'

'What were you saying?' I asked her persistently.

'Various things! We were talking about the world. We go at night and bless the houses in Thermo!'

'Do you pass by mine?' I was living in Agrinio then.

'Yes, we pass by.'

'After you pass by, tell me, which one is my house?' She did not want to answer, but I continued to insist.

'Well, isn't there a school outside?'

Indeed, it was precisely outside of a school.

Sometimes on her tours with Saint Nektarios they also took the village priest.

'Where were you last night?' asked Salome to Fr. V.

'I was at my house.'

'We were not with Saint Nektarios and we blessed the houses of the village?' asked Salome puzzled. The priest declared ignorance, yet it seems that he was virtuous and cared for his flock, always praying for it."

Another time the Saint appeared and quarreled with Salome, because she told Father Joachim that he was visiting her.

Towards the end of her life she told her niece Maria that she saw Saint Nektarios riding a horse making the rounds in Thermo to bless its inhabitants!

Some did hear horse kicks around his church, but they did not see him!

Many times and many Saints they are described in this way. Usually, however, it concerns the military Saints, such as Saint Demetrios, Saint George, Saint Menas, Saint Theodore, among others.

When she went on a pilgrimage to Aegina, to the tomb of Saint Nektarios, she also bent down to hear the knocking that usually people heard, but instead she heard a Divine Liturgy.

She got excited and started shouting! Then a lot of people gathered around her, to see what was happening. Among them was a Bishop who had served in the Monastery. They asked her what was going on and she said with admiration: "Wow! What a miracle this is! Is there a Divine Liturgy?"

From the book by Hieromonk Prodromos, ΣΑΛΩΜΗ Η ΜΥΣΤΙΚΗ ΕΡΓΑΤΙΣ ΤΗΣ ΑΡΕΤΗΣ. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.