March 2011 - St. Nicholas
Priest in Athens (1932)
Fr. Nicholas was a simple parish priest in the city of Athens, humble, poor, and barely literate. He was born on the island of Naxos in 1851 to moderately prosperous parents; but when his father died; his mother was reduced to near-poverty, and moved the family to Athens. St Nicholas married at the age of seventeen, but his wife died after a short time, leaving him with one son.
He served the Divine Liturgy daily, never missing a day for fifty years, despite illness, storms, and war. His liturgies unfailingly lasted for several hours, mostly due to the hundreds of commemorations that he included. The faithful would give him sheets of paper containing names to be commemorated; he would carry all the sheets with him in bulging satchels. A few of his spiritual children made it their task to go through the papers secretly and discard the oldest and most worn, so that the commemorations would not increase without limit.
In his conversation, the Saint had a simple and childlike manner, and he was widely despised by more sophisticated laymen, priests and hierarchs, never being appointed to any but the smallest and poorest parishes. Many, however, discerned his holiness, and a large following of spiritual children slowly gathered around him.
Once, a very young altar boy ran out from the altar while Fr Nicholas was serving the Divine Liturgy and, trembling with fear, cried to his mother, 'Mama, Father Nicholas is floating in the air!' His mother, trying to comfort him, said 'Don't be afraid, all priests do that when they serve the Liturgy.' St. Nicholas was often in difficulties with the hierarchy because his humility left no room for Church politics. He was later proclaimed a Saint by the Church of Greece. He reposed in peace in 1932.