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An Excerpt from "Life and Witness of St. Iakovos of Evia" by Dr. Nicholas Baldimtsis

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

From the forthcoming publication by Uncut Mountain Press. Available Monday, June 26th!

(Taken from Chapter 3: The Monastic Life of the Elder, Page 50.)

His cell was no more than a ruined shack without glass in the windows, with old shutters that didn’t close well. During the heavy winter, when the snow was meters high and the cold intolerable, the Elder lit a small fire inside his frozen cell. The wind would blow snow into his room through the slits of the shutters and create a white path on the floor of the cell.

I took the Psalter with the long candle we would use to light the polyeleos,14 and I chanted verses all night until I made my way through the entire Psalter. That is how I kept warm with the flame that warmed the ascetics, the hermits, and the stylites. I had a lot: I had tiles above my head—the stylites had nothing. If I was in a cave like a hermit I wouldn’t have the comforts of a cell, even if it was in disrepair. These are the types of thoughts that brought me comfort. One time during a very difficult winter, when the snow in the courtyard had frozen over, I went down very carefully to church for the service. Just before I entered the church I slipped and fell very hard on my spine, right above my hip. I must have fractured some of the vertebrae because I got up with extreme pain before I managed to make it back to my cell. I laid down on the old door of the cell that I used as a bed in extreme pain, without moving. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand up; I couldn’t even make the slightest movement. I was stuck there lying down, alone, frozen, hungry, and thirsty—not for one or two days but for 14 days. During this time not one of the other fathers came and opened the door of my cell to see if I was alive or dead or to offer me any help. I spent two weeks like this and begged St. David, saying:

“My saint, I came here for you. You see that I can’t take anymore; please, I beg you, please come and help me, come heal me. But don’t come here as yourself, because I’m a cowardly man and I can’t bear to see you. But come as one of the brothers of the monastery.

As soon as I finished this prayer, the door opened and the saint came in the appearance of one of the brothers of the monastery. He said to me:

“What’s wrong Fr. Iakovos?” “I fell and I’m in terrible pain. I’ve been stuck here for two weeks lying down.” Then the saint said to me, “Who am I? Am I Father so and so?” I was hesitant to say that he was St. David, so I told him, “Yes, you are Father so and so.” The saint then said to me, “Come on let me help you. Sit up and show me where it hurts.” I told him then, “If I could sit, I would get up and sit. But I can’t move.” “Come on. I’ll help you,” the saint said.

And then I sat up with his help. The saint stood behind me back-to-back and helped me stay upright. I felt that his back was priestly – that is, I could feel the grace of the priesthood. Then the saint made the sign of the Cross over the areas where I was in pain and over my hips and my neck and head. Everything passed immediately: no more pain, not a trace of injury, only joy and happiness. Immediately the saint opened the door and went outside. Then I began to feel sorry for myself and my cowardice because I didn’t even make a prostration to thank him.

God frequently lets His athletes get to the point where they’ve reached the bitter end of their physical and spiritual endurance, and when it seems as if there is no more human hope then He intervenes. Completely healthy, the Elder continued his asceticism with St. David as his assistant, his brother, and his protector (as he called the saint when he prayed to him). With every occurrence, the Elder would go to the icon of St. David and talk to him and ask for his help.

14. The large chandelier with candles that is in the center of the knave of the church suspended under the dome. (TN)

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Unknown member
Jun 19, 2023

Thank you Father And all on the OE team!



Beautifully inspiring story. Thank you.

Btw, it’s a nave (not kna-v-e).

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