August 20, 2022

Why Elder Athanasios Hamakiotis Didn't Allow His Altar Servers in the Sanctuary During Communion

Testimony of Metropolitan Ignatios of Arta:

"Such was his piety and his devotion to the Divine Liturgy, that even if snakes bit him, he would not notice."

"When he said 'thine own of thine own' there was a thump and everyone fell to their knees. No one could stand up. Who can describe the tone and color of his voice when he uttered the words of consecration."

"The time for Divine Communion was coming. The Divine Liturgy at its peak. The children brought him the boiling hot water, known as zeon, at the appropriate moment; that's how he wanted it:
'Let it boil, my child, the zeon must be burning hot.'"

Testimony of One of His Altar Boys:

"When we brought him the zeon, the vessel burned. You could not touch it. He wasn't bothered at all. He would touch it with his hand and pour it crosswise into the Holy Chalice. All the kids were wondering how it didn't burn him. Every time we went to touch it, we got burned. Then he would take us out of the sanctuary. He wanted to be alone in this sacred moment."

Testimony of Father A.P.:

"He had special pedagogical concepts. He took special care of the education of the children who ministered to him at the Sacred Bema. He loved them fatherly. He taught them and kept things authentic. When it came to the point in time when he was going to 'divide the holy Bread' and to receive communion, he had to be alone, which to him was a unique and timeless moment.

'And now, Lord, it is You and I,' he would say.

Perhaps the children could not receive with due respect his 'expressions' to his Lord. The presence of others, at such moments, negatively affects devotion. The Elder would not, or could not, commune without tears. He spoke to his Lord warmly and simply, 'village-like'.

As his tears flowed - sometimes like a faucet - his faint cry sounded solemn and pleading, persistent and repetitive:

'Forgive me, forgive me...'

And then, a divine earthquake pierced through him, visibly and perceptibly!

After every Divine Liturgy, he was soaked, and was obliged to change."

Testimony of Metropolitan Iakovos of Argolidos:

"During the time of communion, he strictly forbade the presence of another person in the Sacred Bema. The children would go out. When he communed, his form changed. As a deacon I had witnessed an extraordinary sight.

He was crying like a little child. If you were to see a little child crying or Father Athanasios, it was the same.

And at the same time his form shone with a strange light when he was receiving communion of the Immaculate Mysteries. Then I understood why he wouldn't allow the children or anyone else to stay inside."
Source: From the book by Metropolitan Nektarios (Antonopoulos) of Argolidos Ιερομόναχος Αθανάσιος Χαμακιώτης. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.