February 18, 2021

Father Iakovos Valodemos: The Priest Who Miraculously Survived Machine Gunfire from German Soldiers

By Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos

According to a letter from the teacher Savvas Theodorou, which was sent and published in the newspaper "Orthodoxos Typos", during the German occupation the following event occurred:

When one afternoon the Elder, Fr. Iakovos Valodemos (1870-1960), was traveling on foot from Ioannina to Monodendri, he reached Karyes which is located near the 19th kilometer of the main road Ioannina - Konitsa.

There he was met by a German patrol who were trying with nods and yelling to force him to stop.

Fr. Iakovos, however, did not notice the patrol and did not understand anything, because while he was passing, he was chanting Vespers. His mind was absorbed by the service. (At that time, in fact, he was saying the Psalm from Vespers: "Let my prayer be directed towards You").

The German soldiers, however, when they saw that he did not stop, fired an automatic weapon at him from a distance of 25 meters. Nothing could save him.

But the Elder suffered nothing.

He simply stopped when he heard the bullets whistling around him and after raising his hands to the sky, he continued his prayer.

The German soldiers, seeing that he was not killed, approached him closely and were dazzled when the found that he had not even been wounded by their bullets.

He was safe and sound.

After that they let him go, showing him with nods where to go without asking for anything else.

As the teacher Savvas Theodorou mentions in his letter, during those difficult days, the Elder traveled without having an identity card or a travel permit. Nobody checked the famous Papa-Iakovos!

Source: From the book Ένας σύγχρονος άγιος. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

Note from the Translator:

Some may find this story to be unbelievable, or that it could be explained by the fact that the shooters simply missed their target, and by explaining it away they just simply dismiss it. However, as unlikely as such alternative explanations may be, I can personally testify to the authenticity of such a miracle taking place. During the German occupation of Greece, my own grandfather had an experience that he told me which he witnessed with his own eyes, that in many ways resembles the story told above. My grandfather was in Kalamata at the time, when German soldiers forced all the men into the town square. After the men gathered, a holy man known to all the locals, Haralambi the Fool for Christ, walked right through the gathering and continued on his way. When German soldiers told him to stop, he kept walking, so they fired at him with a machine gun. Despite numerous bullets being shot his way, none hit him, nor did Haralambi stop or even flinch, but continued walking as if nothing happened. Later that day, according to my grandfather, he saw Haralambi, who reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a handful of bullets. Not long ago, a book was published in Greece about him, which I read, and in there are many eye-witness testimonies that confirmed exactly what my grandfather told me.