September 13, 2021

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi Returns to his Monastery after a Three and a Half Month Battle With the Coronavirus

The return of Elder Ephraim to Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain was an event that everyone was looking forward to. The fathers of the Monastery say that it was not accidental that he came exactly one day before the feast of the Monastery for the Holy Zoni of the Panagia. After being tested for the coronavirus in late May and for an absence of about three and a half months at Evangelismos Hospital and Animus Rehabilitation Center, he returned on September 11th healthy to his spiritual children.

The reception was modest and moving. He arrived around 7:30 p.m. at the port of the Monastery where all the Heads of the Monastery were waiting for him, while the whole brotherhood was waiting for him outside the gate of the Monastery, where the fathers, with obvious joy on their faces, lined up to receive his blessing and kiss his hand.

At the gate of the Monastery all the priests and deacons of the Monastery were waiting for him wearing their robes and one of them was holding the Holy Zoni of the Panagia for the Elder to venerate, which he did with tears in his eyes.

He seemed to be moved, and proceeded to enter the entrance of the Monastery, while the choir of the monks preceded, chanting Axion Estin in the second tone, the so-called "Hagioritiko". So the procession proceeded to the temple (chanters, priests, deacons, the Elder having worn the abbot's cloak, followed by the monks and a few pilgrims).

Inside the temple, some troparia were chanted by the choir along with a slow doxology and prayers were made by the deacons. The Elder said tearfully the prayer "Hear us O God…". Then all the chanters gathered and sang a beautiful polychronion for the Elder. Father Germanos, who stood in the Elder's place during his absence, then welcomed him before the Elder himself offered his thanks to all those who helped in his recovery and return. He especially thanked the Panagia, the Saints of Vatopaidi, the medical doctors, those who looked after him, but most of all Noetic Prayer which strengthened and consoled him, encouraging his fellow monks to also engage in nepsis and hesychasm..

A few days earlier, on September 9th, Elder Ephraim was interviewed by a Cypriot news station about his battle with the coronavirus. He talked about his recovery as a return from the dead, because he came close to death and recovered, which he considered a miracle, since even the doctors were amazed by his recovery. Now he is currently in much better health. As for the virus, he sees it as a sign of the times, a sign of God's wrath, since sin in the world has consequences for the world according to the spiritual law, and God desires our repentance through tribulation and not punishment. At the same time he encourages everyone to be vaccinated, since science is a gift from God which helps prolong our life for the desired repentance. He confesses that he was planning on being vaccinated before he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, but due to his schedule he would push the date further into the future, and eventually he was too late. He says he became infected after a monk from his monastery returned from the hospital in Thessaloniki and since then he had difficulties with his health. As of September 7th, Elder Ephraim was vaccinated. As he says, "Faith in God is not opposed to medical science, but works together with medical science," and "those who stick to alternative opinions to what the Church teaches and has accepted, should keep it to themselves." He also mentioned an encyclical of the Holy Hieromartyr Kyprianos of Cyprus, who was hung by the Turks in 1821, who encouraged everyone to be vaccinated at that time against the epidemic of smallpox.