November 20, 2020

The Sad Story Behind a Famous Photo of Saint Nektarios

The body of St. Nektarios outside the locked doors of Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus.

In Piraeus, attached to the Church of the Holy Trinity, there is a Chapel of Saint Nektarios which, apart from being a place of worship, also has historical significance for the life of Saint Nektarios. When referring to the Holy Trinity Church at the time of Saint Nektarios, we mean the original church that was destroyed by the bombings of 1940. In this old church where today is the Chapel of Saint Nektarios, there was a small warehouse where they put the used candles and any useless object that they would soon throw away or give to a junk dealer.

When Saint Nektarios passed away on November 8, 1920 at the Aretaio Hospital in Athens, the nuns who cared for him during his hospitalization prepared the relic of the Saint to transport him for burial at the Monastery of the Saint, in Aegina. In 1920, coastal shipping to the islands of the Saronic Gulf was not as it is today. They were done in large boats, on a journey that lasted a long time, with sparse itineraries and that many times the rough seas made it difficult and tedious. This means that the nuns had to leave the relic of the Saint in a place near the port so that the next day it could be transferred to Aegina for burial.

It was decided to transport the relic of the Saint to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Piraeus, which was very close to the port and the place from where the large boats left for Aegina. The then pastor of the church agreed for the relic of the Saint to come to the Holy Trinity Church, but for reasons known only to him, he did not allow the relic to remain inside the church. It is believed that Saint Nektarios was not allowed inside the church because he had been deposed by the Patriarchate of Alexandria and even in death suffered at the hands of his slanderers.

So it was decided to keep the sacred relic of Saint Nektarios in the warehouse along with the used candles and the useless items. When the Church of the Holy Trinity was rebuilt again from the beginning, in the early 1960s, and took its current form, the ecclesiastical council decided that at the site where the relic of Saint Nektarios was kept before his burial, it would become a chapel in his honor and to somehow restore the church in the Saint's favor for its mistreatment of him.

Saint Nektarios was fought by the forces of pettiness and selfishness both alive and after his holy repose. People may have "tossed" him  aside sometimes, but God exalted him in the heavens and now we always have him as an intercessor for our salvation.