February 24, 2022

Three Miracles of Saint John the Baptist to Monks of Dionysiou Monastery

The late Monk Lazarus Dionysiatis (+ 1974) is well-known for his book Dionysian Narrations in which he records the valuable memories of those Dionysian Fathers of Dionysiou Monastery at Mount Athos. Among these are various tales of miracles and visions of Saint John the Baptist, who is the patron saint of the Monastery. Below are three examples:

1. I will now tell you a true story that happened to a young monk, who, taking courage in me, confided it to me, very confidentially:

"The Honorable Forerunner, who is depicted in a strict form in the shrine located inside the Katholikon of the Monastery of Dionysiou, in front of the right column, you obviously know him! Every time I talk to him and look him in the face, it seems to me that he is alive. Inside me, I feel like a child talking to his father. When, for the first time, on Monday night, I was reading Compline and the Salutations of the Saint, as I was a sexton and I was standing in front of this Icon of the Honorable Forerunner, with much reverence and love, when I arrived at the words of the Salutations: 'I am sweetened in praising your virtues, O Forerunner, but I hesitate since I cannot find the words. Grant to me the ability to do this.' Then - O your wonders, my protector, Honorable Forerunner! - I felt supernatural grace within my heart, and it seemed like the Honorable Forerunner lifted up my entire body, high above the earth, filling my entire being with unspeakable joy and rejoicing."

2. On the Feast of the Holy Spirit, in the year 1961, after the Divine Liturgy, the vicar, Hieromonk Paul, came and told me the miracle of the Holy Right Hand of the Honorable Forerunner that took place for him as follows:

"Did you understand what happened to me, today at the Liturgy, Father Lazarus?"

"What? It is better for you to explain to me, please!"

"Of course, you heard me in Matins, how difficult it was for me in the Ekphonisis, how my throat was blocked by the pharyngitis that oppresses me from time to time?"

"Yes, I understood it. And I was saying to myself: 'How will the priest make it through the Liturgy?!'

"Listen, then: when the priests gathered in the church to do the kairos, I saw myself in a bad situation. Before the 'Blessed is our God' by the Abbot, I went and asked him to take out the Holy Right Hand of the Honorable Forerunner so I could kiss it and he could bless me with it. The Abbot immediately accepted, crossed my head with the Honorable Forerunner's Right Hand, saying the usual special prayer that exists for these cases. I also embraced it with a lot of reverence and love, begging at the same time the Honorable Forerunner to take pity on me and to cure me of this disease that oppressed me, so that I can, to the glory of God, do the Ekphonisis with ease of voice, and also, so that I can say the Gospel with ease and eloquence, as we usually say, on such Despotic Feasts.

This is about what I said to the Honorable Forerunner when I was kissing the Holy Right Hand. And, - O, your wondrous and quick perception, Honorable Forerunner of Christ! - I immediately felt the energy of Divine Grace, my larynx softened and my voice opened! I was filled with divine zeal and I did the Ekphonisis with much reverence and love. I also said the Gospel with all comfort and ease, from the depths of my soul and heart. With all my reverence and gratitude, I thanked our all-good protector, the glorious Baptist and Forerunner of the Lord, through whose intercessions may we all have a blessed ending and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen, so be it!"

3. A narration of the superior of the Sacred Monastery of Dionysiou to the Monk Lazarus of Dionysiou.

"Brother Lazarus, as you will remember, in the first ten days of July of the previous year (1955), I was sent from the Monastery to Thessaloniki to buy necessary food and some other things useful for us.

When I arrived in Thessaloniki, I ended up as always in the hotel, and alas for me the unfortunate one, with the cooperation of Satan, I fell into a great and unexpected temptation.

If Divine Grace and the protection of the Honorable Forerunner had not arrived, I do not know what my state would be and if I were to be in the Monastery today."

When my brother told me this, I saw tears welling up in his eyes, both in remembrance of the terrible ordeal that had befallen him and of the amazing miracle that followed. That's why he was silent for a while.

Encouraging him to tell me what happened to him, I assured him that this story would have the character of a spiritual confession and that no one outside would ever know his name, not even the abbot of the monastery.

And then he started telling me:

"When, brother, it was night and I was alone in my room, a beautiful young woman from a village in Halkidiki whom I had met for a while in her paternal house - because her family was familiar with the monastery - happened to be staying in the same hotel together with her brother. That night, meanwhile, her brother was away.

When this girl learned that I was in that hotel room, having the courage from her family relationship with the monastery, but also the acquaintance we had, she visited me in my room. So, after the greeting, we started chatting.

I asked her about her father, and the other members of her family, and she asked me about some of the fathers of the monastery she knew. So, some time passed and finally she suggested for me to go to her room, to treat me from the food she had eaten with her brother that day.

As she told me, she also wanted to give me fine fruits from her village - and many other things she said - and she begged me to accept.

At first I reacted and did not accept to do this untimely interaction. But she insisted! And what did she not say! In fact, after she took my hand, she said to me: 'Just for a moment, we will go and come back again.'

What a misfortune I was involved in, my brother! On the one hand I was thinking about the absurd, the inappropriate and the unknown evolution of the trap I had fallen into, and on the other hand her sweet words, her virginal beauty, the caustic arrows that struck the members of the flesh, the night, the loneliness.

I was dizzy and started to give in and slowly did give in to her will. But, from the bottom of my heart and soul, I begged the Honorable Forerunner not to become a toy in the hands of the demons and their ridicule.

To make a long story short, however, we went to her room, on the opposite side of the floor, and as soon as we arrived, she immediately locked the door well and was getting ready to treat me.

You can now imagine the joy and the solemn exchanges of the demons for the victory and the triumph they achieved!  

But O your wonderful miracles our greatest protector, most-glorious one of the Lord, Baptist and Forerunner!

While my breaking and falling into sin seemed like a done deal, immediately a glimmer of lightning shone all over the room! It was as if illuminated by many electric lights!

And in this glittering light, the Great Forerunner John appeared and grabbed me by the chest! At the same time and without realizing it, I found myself in my room, on the other side of the floor!

After I recovered and came to myself from this awesome and amazing event, and after I realized the great grace and protection that happened to me from the all-holy protector the Honorable Forerunner, I thanked him fervently, I spent that whole night with tears of joy and reverence, admiring the great protection he has for us monks of Dionysiou!

Source 1 and 2: From the book Διονυσιάτικια Διηγήσεις. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.