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June 19, 2021

The Beloved "Daughter" of Eldress Galaktia: An Interview With Ririka Chronakis (Part 1 of 2)

The well-known to all visitors of Eldress Galaktia, Mrs. Ririka Koumantakis-Chronakis, has been the "child" of the Eldress since she was born. They had a unique lifelong relationship. It is not possible to talk about the Eldress and not spontaneously go to the kind and noble lady Ririka. When we came from Cyprus, she welcomed us warmly.

Mrs. Ririka, thank you for agreeing to speak with us.

It is my pleasure, children. May you be well. Thank you also for the love of the Cypriots for the Eldress. There was hardly a day that visitors did not come from Cyprus.

She especially loved you and welcomed you. She called you "my suffering children" because you went through wars, refugees, persecutions. May you be well that you remember her.

Mrs. Ririka, can you tell us when the close relationship you had with the Eldress began?

Since I was born. She raised me. This whole matter has a history. My late mother was born in a mountain village called Miamou. They were many children and they were orphaned early of a father.

The late doctor, the Eldress's father, once went and had a doctor's office in the village. He saw the poverty and suffering of the orphans and took with him the then little Kyriakoula my mother and her brother George. He had them as his children. 
My uncle George returned to the village early. He could not get used to Pompia. My mother stayed. She raised the doctor's daughters. With the third, Galatia, they were more than sisters. Always together.

At work, in the fields, in the household. Even in bed they slept together. There was no space for many beds then and the children were laying on mattresses.

When my mother later married my father in Pompia, Galatia, as a real sister, undertook to help my mother.

She raised me. And one of my brothers, Manolio, who died early, which was a heavy blow to Galatia. To such a point that my mother comforted her. She never forgot it.

She wrote it with my parents on the memorandum. She said that when she ascended to heaven, she wanted to meet first her niece Antonoula and my little brother Manolio.

They call me Ririka, but I was baptized Irene as a favor to the doctor of Eldress Galaktia's mother who was called Irene.

Did you realize the magnitude of her spirituality?

Of course! She has always been unique and unrepeatable. Her entire salary she gave away as alms "in secret" as she said, for the right alms. She gave it all and she always had ten times as much as she gave them. 
She once needed 250 euros and made a secret request to the Panagia. Later she revealed to me that it was late to come but she would go and say every day to the icon: "Since you know that I am not disappointed, but I will tell you every day until it comes, just do not delay it."

When the date was due for the bill, a check for 250 euros came from a person who lived in Athens and loved her. This was the first and last time that this person sent her money. Thus, always dependent on the care of God, she lived her life without stress, calm and happy.

I will tell you one thing to see how much she loved people. She would wait every morning at 5 a.m. for the garbage men in order to treat the workers with sweets and cookies. She said: "The poor children! Honorable, blessed. They immerse themselves in the waste to be able to buy bread for their house." And they loved her very much! One she made her son. He is from France. She led him to get married, to go to confession, and made him a living Christian.

When his child fell into lime and his eyes were burned, he told her in despair. She encouraged him and told him not to be afraid, that the child would get well. Like before. It really happened as before, with a miracle through her prayer. His parents have much to say.

She gave everyone a wooden cross and hung it around their necks. No one wanted to be left without a cross. She said that the cross is our shield and our identity. 
Once she supplied the whole village and every visitor with photocopied and beautifully made salutations to the Panagia! She considered the salutations to be the most powerful prayer to the Panagia! She said to read them reverently, and then tell the Panagia your problems.

We learned that she fed all the afflicted in the village. This happened as long as she lived and stood on her feet. One with a mental disorder was directly protected by her. She loved a lot, she melted for people with special needs. She called them "the chosen army of Christ the Almighty."

"Here," she said, "the rulers who make mistakes, honor with medals and pensions those who were wounded in wars. Imagine," she said, "what the government of Christ would do for those who came to the world injured!" Her heart would bleed when she saw someone mocking such people.

Did you realize her clairvoyance and foresight?

(Laughs) Did you hear what he said! Mostly we, those close to her, experienced these things. We could not escape anything. She knew every detail of our lives. Every visitor she understood. Even their thoughts. But she did not say anything.

As long as she was healthy on her feet, she barely spoke to rebuke anyone. She did it in other ways, politely, and people understood. Sometimes she did it dynamically. But always with love.

She mainly prayed and thus helped change people. She said: "The devil rejoices in exposing and revealing the secrets of others. God never does that." 
Now that she was in bed she did not understand with her brain, but whatever she saw she said. Again discreetly and lovingly. Usually only the one to whom she was addressing understood. In cases where someone had a big ego, she spoke openly in front of all of us ... we have infinite incidents.

There was not a day that we did not experience such surprises from the Eldress. I remember once with what pain and with how much love she tried to admonish a newlywed with children, who was cheating on her husband. She accepted her with love for a long time. She was talking to her in ways only she could understand and that girl probably did not want to understand. 
One day she took her and put her in her room. She took me in as a witness, so that this girl would not say later whatever she could make up in her head, as if the Eldress said such things. She closed the door and said to her: "Please, my child, stop cheating on your husband. You have done it from the third month of your marriage. You squeezed another's hand as a cue at the dance and the evil began. Repent my child! The best children of God are the repentant ones. Those who were sweetened by sin and then struggled against it came to hate it."

Then she knelt down and said to the girl with tears: "I whom you see have committed more sins than you. But I repent every day and I have hope and joy in me that Christ will accept me! Repent too and you will live beautifully, you will live in paradise. You are not only mocking your husband. You are mocking God. Your children will suffer."

The one who was purest said she was more sinful than the adulteress, to encourage her. The woman was a little shocked, she left and did not know where she was going, but she did not come back. Unfortunately she did not repent. May it change now with the prayers of the Eldress.

I will now ask you a difficult question. Is it true that she did difficult "surgeries" and you were her assistant?

(Laughs) Is it true? This was a daily job! People with various diseases came. She immediately saw what they had. She took the cross and had them kneel at her bed in front of her. She immediately crossed where they had the problem. She did not need to be told anything.

Usually when they had a tumor or cysts on the head, I also helped. She would drag their hair to the side because she could see something coming out. She would say to me: "You drag too Ririka." I dragged a little too. Sometimes she would have me cut some hair. Then she was relieved of the process and said: "You are okay here now"! 
Everyone would be healed. I remember a young man from Rethymno who lost his eye. She crossed him for over half an hour and something came out around the eye that we could not see. When she finished, she told him: "Go to sleep for four hours now and you will be fine." He slept for four hours. He woke up and could see. He went to the hospital for a check-up and the doctors were shocked by the result they saw.

A Greek physician came once from Boston, in the United States. He suffered from a neurological autoimmune disease. His left side suffered and hindered him in his work. She "operated" on him and he was fine.

A small child from Rethymno who had a disabled hand since his birth, she crossed it and immediately he moved his hand. Excited, the child's family spread the news throughout Rethymno and I remember that a whole bus came to visit her. Fr. Antonios, however, prevented them from entering.