January 4, 2022

Encomium on Behalf of Saint Nikephoros the Leper (Elder Eumenios Saridakis)

When Saint Nikephoros the Leper reposed on January 4th 1964, Father Eumenios Saridakis, who was then known as Father Sophronios, wrote a moving encomium that is full of grace, which can be read below, and every year on the same day, he did a memorial service in his honor and served everyone tiropita.

Encomium on Behalf of Saint Nikephoros the Leper

If pain, sorrows and trials are taken away from the life of the people, sanctity would only belong to the Angelic orders. This truth, which is self-evident in our Orthodox faith, was well recognized by the departed to the Lord on the 4th of January 1964 Father Nikephoros Tzanakakis, who was known as Nicholas in the world. He was born in Hania in 1887 to pious parents, and, having been infected with the disease of leprosy, he did not consider it to be a curse, but as a special favor from heaven and a personal calling from the director of the contests Christ. For this reason at the age of 17 he departed from his particular homeland in order to go venerate the Holy Land, especially the Place of the Skull, where pain became sanctified and Golgotha became a symbol to those who have overcome sorrows and the adversities of life. From there, from the inexhaustible ocean of his bravery and endurance, he drew courage and patience to hold up high, very high, his own cross for 52 whole years.

In 1912 he entered the leper hospital of Chios, and was tonsured a Monk by our Holy Father Anthimos Vagianos. Who can enumerate his beautiful spiritual struggles in his young life? Although his body was decaying day by day, the inner man of the spirit was being renewed. His disease removed members of his body - the eyes, hands, feet - he finally became motionless, while this renowned man removed every occasion of the passions and wickedness, attaining blessed dispassion and perfect obedience to the will of God and his spiritual father, becoming preeminently a man of most-fervent prayer.

Even in the field of preaching he did not lack, nor did he have the power of speech, but his virtues from above and his wide and generous smile preached better than the strongest preacher, which is why his cell became a font of spiritual rebaptism; from there the healthy and the sick drew courage. Priests with an enormous education considered one visit to Father Nikephoros as a blessing from God, such as Father Elias Mastrogiannopoulos with many other members of "Zoe", Father Paraskevopoulos, Father Gabriel Dionysiatis, etc. For all of them and for us Father Nikephoros was a spiritual oasis in the Sahara of this life, which is why his repose threw us into unspeakable sorrow, but also joy, for we believe that we have a fervent mediator before the Lord that he may guard us from the snares of the evil one.

May your holy memory be eternal, for the righteous live eternally.

The least of your spiritual children,

Monk Sophronios
Source: From the book π. Ευμένιος - Ο Ποιμήν ο Καλός και Θαυματουργός. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.