The Life of Saint Nektarios.....

Personal Details:

Name:Anastasios Kefalas

Birthplace: Silivria,Thraki(Thrace)

Date Of Birth: October 1846

Died: 8/11/1920 , 22:30pm , aged 74

Feast Days: 3rd September

9th November (anniversary of death)

His parents were called Dimos and Vasiliki Kefalas.He was the fifth of six children

Early life..

School years
His early years were spent at the local school in Silivria.When he was old enough to finish this school he faced a major dilema.There was no where else he could further his education in Silivria.This problem, aligned to the fact that he had no money to continue his studies elsewhere, caused the young Anastasi a lot of grief.He had a thirst for knowledge and a love of God which drove him on. He wanted to become a theologian.He wanted to educate himself so that he could love the Lord more, and as such, serve him better.
With his parents blessing he set off for Constantinople to achieve his dreams.

He went to the port seeking a ship to Constantinople. On finding one he asked the captain if he could board. He was 14 at the time. The captain, seeing that he was so young, told him to go for a walk and come back later.
Anastasi realised that this was a polite refusal, and went away sorrowful. He watched as the captain started the ships engines for departure without him.The engines were running but to the captains dismay the ship would not move.He increased the power to them but without success.The ship would not budge.He could not understand what was occuring.His eye then caught the eye of the young Anastasi who was standing on the quay. Feeling sorry for him, the captain waved the boy onto the ship.Anastasi jumped aboard. Once the "Special" passenger was on, the ship set off on its way.

The ship was now in open sea and a  the crew were conducting a ticket inspection.Anastasi was terrified. He realised he had no ticket and no money to pay for one.What should he do? The captain who knew his secretwas not about. I will tell the truth, he thought to himself.When asked for his ticket he said ,"I am poor. I have no money .I have left my poor parents to seek work, so that I can help them."

He was so embarrassed that his cheeks glowed red.The sailors believed him. Other passengers heard his story and went to his aid. They listened to his life story, his problems.
One man in particular, a cousin of a very rich man, John Horemis was particularly impressed.

The next day he went looking for work in Constantinople.There he found nothing but rejection and indifference. He eventually found employment in a factory, but being a young boy, his wages were very poor.He was virtually barefoot. His only comfort was the Lord and his prayers.He watched his employer send letters daily to many people. Sometimes he went to the post office himself to send them off.

Anastasi wanted to also write.He wanted to write a lot, but to whom?He had no relatives in Constantinople. He could not write to his mother as there was no communication with small villages.He wanted to tell someone of his problems. How he slaved for no money. How he wanted to eat and clothe himself, but he did not have enough.He never lost his faith though. One day he decided to write a letter to the Lord.
He wrote away:
"Dear LORD. Please send me an apron, and some shoes. You know how much I love you".

He sealed the envelope and addressed it to "The Lord Jesus in heaven".
He set off to post his letter.
Just by chance, he was seen by the owner of a nearby business. This man liked Anastasi and admired his spirit and his dedication. He was also going to post a letter.
He told the young Anastasi that he would also post his letter for him. Anastasi gave him the letter. The man put it in his pocket and they parted company.

The mans curiosity was aroused as he was about to post the letter when he saw the address on it.He opened it and read it.His eyes filled with tears.Immediately he filled the envelope with money and sent it back to Anastasi along with a letter containing fatherly advice as to how the money should be wisely spent.

Anastasi was overjoyed at the Lords immediate reply.The next day he set off to buy clothes and food.His employer, on seeing his new clothes, was furious. He suspected that the boy had been stealing. He beat him badly, screaming at him and fired him immediately.The boys claim that the money had been sent by the Lord did not wash with his employer.
The businessman who had sent the money saw what was going on and called Anastasi's employer and explained the whole story to him,thus saving the boy from the sack. Anastasi continued to work hard,working by day and studying by night.He studied the saints and wrote about their lives on bits of cigarette papers obtained from the factory where he worked, as he had no money for paper.

After 5 or 6 years in Constantinople, he went to Chios.He became a regular church goer.All who met him had the greatest repect for him.At the age of twenty he became a teacher at the school in Litheou in Chios. He stayed there for seven years, serving the school, the church and the local community.He tried to instill in his pupils,their parents and the community, his love of God.
However, he still yearned for the monastic life. Being a teacher had awakened this dream inside him.
Monasticism would give him the opportunity to study the holy scriptures thus fulfilling his ultimate dream of the priesthood.
The years as a Monk
On 7 November 1876, he joined the monastery in Chios as a "brother". At the age of 30 he took the name Lazarus.This gave him the opportunity to dedicate himself body and soul to the study of the scriptures and the other works of the fathers of the church.He was a monk for 5 years, praying, fasting and studying the scriptures, going without sleep on many occasions.
The Metropolitan of Chios Gregory, ordained him a deacon in 1877, such was the respect that the young monk had gained. It was then that he took the name Nektarios.
It was at this time that John Horemis, came into the picture.He was the uncle of the unknown man who was on the boat when the young Nektarios was travelling to Constantinople, those many years ago.Horemis had heard of Nektarios and wished to meet him.With the help of God it was not long before a meeting was arranged.
Horemis' first impressions were excellent. He wanted to find someone to sponsor, to educate, with the aim of leading Greece's uneducated masses. He saw in Nektarios not only the man for the job but a man who he could totally trust.
Eventually Horemis told Nektarios of his plans. Nektarios gratefully accepted.
He went to Athens to start his studies.
On finishing he went to Alexandria in Egypt, near the Patriarch Sophronios, carrying with him the excellent reference of his sponsor John Horemis.
The Patriarch was deeply impressed with the humility and the holiness of Nektarios.He asked him if he wanted to continue his studies at the Theological school in Athens, so that he could take better care of the needs of the Orthodox Christians of Alexandria.Nektarios accepted and duly enrolled at the school.
Day and night Nektarios thanked God for everything. He prayed for Sophronios and all who had helped him.It was at this time that Nektarios lost his close friend and benefactor-John Horemis.
University of Athens:
In 1882 Nektarios enrolled at the University of Athens.All admired his christain values, his humilty and politeness.All respected him. He was their confidante.

The Later years.....


The Priesthood
On 23/3/1886 Saint Nektarios was officially ordained a priest at the Chuch of St Savva.Five months later he was ordained an Archimandrite at the Church of St Nicholas in Cairo.He was also the Patriarchs preacher and secretary.He was really happy at this time as his work was showing real fruits.His words reached into the hearts of his listeners with messages of love,faith and salvation.Wherever he preached the church was overflowing with people.The Patriarch Sophronios was really pleased with him.
Metropolitan Pentapoleos
On 15/1/1889 at the Church of St Nicholas in Cairo he became Metropolitan Pentapoleos of Livi.He carried on with his tasks with great enthusiasm and zeal.His fame spread.
However, it was at this time that dark clouds appeared on the horizon.Some of the other clergy in Alexandria disliked Nektarios and conspired against him. They feared that he would become the next Patriarch and told Sophronios that he desired his throne.Their objective was to get Nektarios out of the Church in Alexandria.
The Patriarch with no evidence against Nektarios issued a decree on 3/5/1890.
Nektarios was to lose his authority in the church.He could keep his priesthood.He could stay in his room in Cairo.He could conduct weddings,christenings and funerals,memorials and feast days, but, he could not move freely in Cairo without permission.The so called evidence against him was flimsy to say the least.When he was at a dinner party, a toast to the "next patriarch" was raised.Apparently Nektarios had acknowledged the toast with a thank you.

Sophronios was mislead.Nektarios left for Athens,where he received refuge from the Metropolitan of Athens, Germanos, who sympathised with him and gave him economic support within limited bounds.

On 11/7/1890 he was totally exiled from Cairo by the Patriarch.He had no money and no savings.He always believed that faith was enough.He was at peace with himself, keeping the pain and grief that he felt within him, forgiving his enemies and in constant prayer.

In Athens references from Cairo were required by the church council.Cairo replied very scathingly about Nektarios, saying namely that he was a troublemaker and the Patriarch had thought fit to exile him from Egypt.

On 11/3/1895, Nektarios wrote to the Patriarch,refering to the scathing references that the Cairo office had sent.He pleaded his innocence before God.He had done nothing wrong.He asked for proof of his wrong doing, and wanted to know who his accusers were.What had he been accused of? What was the justification for exile?
He stressed that as God was his witness and his judge, he had done nothing wrong.His letter achieved nothing.His enemies continued to criticise him,to talk about him and to debate him.

In Athens he searched for work for a year to no avail.He was short of food and money.He was depressed and down hearted.In desperation he went to the Ministry of Education and asked for a post as a preacher in whatever area was available.The minister advised him that even though there was a great need for preachers in Greece, he could not employ someone who did not have
Greek Citizenship.His eyes full of tears, Nektarios left.
As he left the Ministry,Nektarios met an old man whom he knew-Melan.The old man saw that Nektarios was upset and asked him what the problem was.Nektarios told all.Within a few minutes Nektarios had been persuaded to return to the Ministry.Melan was furious with the Minister.Nektarios clearly had all the qualifications and qualities that were required and Melan made sure that the Minister knew it in no uncertain terms.
The Minister eventually caved in, and Nektarios was given a post in Halkida.Nektarios was overjoyed to accept this humble position in God's Church.
His first sermon in Halkida was met with indifference-gossiping parishioners not listening to his words.His "infamy" had spread even to Halkida.He was upset but not without hope.The same thing happened on the second Sunday.He made up his mind to try one more Sunday. If the same thing happened he would leave.
The winds of Change
During that week a change in the prevalent attitude of the Archbishopric in Athens and the Ministry of Education was taking place.Had Nektarios been wrongly accused? Was he a victim?
Nektarios had in his hands his letter of dismissal , but he would not show it so as not to hurt
the Patriarch.The truth, however, could not be hidden for ever.He had supposedly left Cairo for climatic reasons.
Over 900 people signed a petition in Alexandria.All these people could not be wrong.They were upset that he had left Egypt.The petition spoke of him as one of the churchs best priests, of his tireless efforts for the needy, his humility, his christian love.These people cared about him.They wrote to their relatives in Greece, they talked about him, they asked for news of him.The truth was out.The peoplw were overjoyed at the truth.On the third Sunday in church everything went well.Total silence during the sermon.His words touched the hearts of his listeners.He stayed there for two and a half years saving souls.Everywhere he went he was loved and respected.He was admired by all ages.Everyone was sad when he left.
The Rizariou Ecclesiastical school
He eventually became the headmaster of the Rizariou Ecclesiastical school.Some of his pupils are still alive today and they can remember him with the utmost respect and love.The school had an inner calm whilst he was there. He stayed for sixteen years.
During this time he put all his energies into building a monastery for women at Aegina.This was to be called the Holy Trinity Monastery.Even after his death he never to ceased to guide the nuns there, and heal the illnesses of all who came to him and asked for help.
When he eventually left the Rizariou, the council voted to give him 250 drachmas for life per month for his services to the school. 
The Holy Trinity Monastery at Aegina
At first there were only three nuns at the monastery-Xeni,Akakia and Kassiani.Others joined afterwards including Eftihia,Filothei,Anastasia,Magdalene,Efpraxia and Sinklitiki.
Nektarios lived as a true monk at the monastery.He worked in the gardens and studied.He fixed the shoes of the nuns.He prayed.He was loved by all.His fame spread.He held liturgies to stop droughts.He healed the sick and the possessed.He helped those in mourning.He held confession.Other nuns joined the monastery including Efimia,Fevronia,Christofora,Christodouli,Theodosia,Athanasia,Parthenia,Magdalene and Nektaria. He was in the monastery for 12 years.
His death
He became ill with prostate problems and for one and a half years he was in severe pain.He kept his illness a secret virtually until his death.Eventually he revealed his pain to the nuns who prayed for him.
One day he told Nektaria that he wished to bless his monastery and the Christian island of Aegina for he was soon to leave.When Nektaria asked him where he was going to, he said  "to heaven."
The pain became unbearable, and he was moved to hospital in Athens.
On 30/9/1920, Efimia took Nektarios to the hospital.The clerk has her for some personal details for his records.When she told him that Nektarios was a bishop, he refused to believe her."It's the first time I have seen a bishop without a gold cross and without money,"he said.Efimia reiterated that Nektarios was "His Holiness the Metroplitan Nektarios Kefalas."
Nektarios was put in a third class room with a few other beds.He lived for two months in hospital in severe pain.
He died at 22:30 PM on 8/11/1920.He was 74 years old.

In the last few days of his life, St Nektarios was in a ward with many sick people.
After his death, one of the nurses along with Efimia were preparing the body for transportation to Aegina.They put clean clothes on him, and took off his old shirt, putting it on a nearby bed, occupied by a man who had been paralysed for many years.The paralysed man stood up praising God.
This is attributed as the first miracle after Nektarios died.

The body was taken to a local church waiting for transporation to Aegina.The people of Aegina met the funeral cortege in tears.They lined the streets and carried his body by foot to the monastery.Everyone said he felt as light as a feather.The nuns put the body in the small church and the funeral liturgy was chanted all night.
Many people filled the church. The church was full of candles, yet the body had not started to decay.Nektarios had died about thirty to forty hours previously.His forehead was sweating, and a sweet smell filled the church.

He was buried some 48 hours after his death.His body showed absolutely no signs of decay-the first signs of his sainthood.His corpse was very elastic, and no rigamortis had set in.For six months after he died, no one was admitted into the ward where he passed away, because of the sweet smell which filled the room.Many of the nuns saw him after his death.
The Witnesses
One and a half years later his tomb was opened in the presence of many witnesses-the nun Theodosia, a local policeman George Zevoulakos,amongst them.His body had not decayed.Archbishop Chrysostomos visited the tomb and observed likewise.

The doctor of Aegina George Ksidea told of what he witnessed.
One day in October 1923, after a visit to a patient, he was passing the monastery.It was raining heavily, so he stood under a tree.The rain would not stop and it was getting darker.He thought of going to the monastery to spend the night.The nuns welcomed him,and prepared food and a room.He went to pay his respects to the Saints tomb,accompanied by a nun who had a torch.
Without respecting the laws of the church, he pushed back the marble top of the tomb using all his strength, partly out of curiosity after what he had heard.Nektarios looked asleep.His body showed no sign of decay.His beard was growing.No rigamortis had set in.The doctor could not pull any hair from the Saints beard.



Last published: 04/10/12