August 29, 2022

Why Confessions Should Be Made Before Priests and Not Icons

Near Delphi in the village of Kirra, the renowned Orthodox preacher Demetrios Panagopoulos was preaching in a church while the parish priest was hearing confessions. That December night, the priest told the preacher how a grandmother in her 80's or 90's came to him for confession earlier for the first time in her life.

She told the priest that for the past 55 years or so, before she communed, she would walk down a path from her house to the church, where nearby there was a secluded little chapel dedicated to the Honorable Forerunner John the Baptist, and there should would light the oil lamps.

This woman, before communing during the liturgy, stood before the icon of the Honorable Forerunner in the chapel, and talking to him, said: "My Master John, you know what I have done. Forgive me so I can go and commune." By "what I have done," she was referring to the lighting of his lamps in his chapel. This is what she would do every time she communed for around 55 years.

One day, she went to the chapel before liturgy and confessed again before her Master John, namely the icon of the Honorable Forerunner, before she received communion. However, this time, she got a response from the Holy Baptist.

As she repeated the words of her confession, she suddenly saw two hands emerge from the icon, grab her by the head, and the Honorable Forerunner said to her: "I'm exhausted from hearing you for 55 years. Did our Christ send me to listen to confessions and forgive sins, or did he send the priests? Are there not priests at Hosios Loukas [the famous monastery which is nearby]?" When the grandmother heard this, she fell to the ground in shock.

The grandmother had been away for a long time, and her family was worried. Her two grandchildren looked all around, and could not find her. They then followed the path to the secluded chapel, and inside found their grandmother fallen on the floor, and her face discolored out of fright. They carried their grandmother back home, and sat her in front of the fireplace. When she fully recovered, she told them how for the past 55 years she would go to the chapel and light the lamps, then confess to the Honorable Forerunner. However, this time, the Honorable Forerunner grabbed her head and told her to stop doing it. Bruises on her cheeks could be seen from the incident.

After this incident, the grandmother was sick for about two or three months, until the preacher Demetrios Panagopoulos went to the village to preach in the church in the middle of December. This is when she went to church and confessed for the first time in her life and recounted her experience to the priest.

Below is a video of Demetrios Panagopoulos recounting this story less than a week after it happened.