With the Eyes of the Soul: The Life of St. Porphyrios

With the Eyes of the Soul: The Life of St. Porphyrios

When Elder Porphyrios sensed the end of his
life approaching, he returned to the monastery of his repentance hoping to repose in peace
and obscurity. “I have come here to prepare myself to die,”
he said. “I will not go back to the world. If something should happen and I ask to go
back, do everything you can to stop me.” In the elder’s final months, Father Akakios
would care for him for twelve hours and then Father Panteleimon would do the same. Many years earlier the Elder had told Father
Akakios that he would be the one that closed his eyes. Now, the younger monk was reading to him everyday
the service of those who are being tonsured into monasticism. Then one day, the Elder asked Father Akakios: “Do you know why I am asking you to read
this service and why I am doing commentary on it?” “Because you want to teach us?,” replied
Father Akakios. The Elder smiled and said, “Because I want to see if I have fulfilled
all the promises that I made in that service. I want to see if I am a genuine monk.” The Elder also asked for a recording of the
funeral service to be played. But when it started he asked them to pause
it and he said, “our age is similar to the age when Jesus came to preach the Good News. I now leave the world because nobody listens. Everyone is doing their own thing and nobody
pays attention to what we are saying. Only if we join ourselves to the Uncreated
Church will we be saved.” On the Elder’s last night, he went to confession
and prayed the Jesus Prayer. His disciples read from the Psalter and the
service for the dying. He quietly repeated the words that Christ
prayed on the eve of his crucifixion, “that we may be one” and then finally, “Come, Lord
Jesus”, with Father Akakios then closing the elder’s eyes in the early morning of Dec.
2nd, 1991 and, as the Elder had directed, was buried in a grave known only to his disciples. In between the many wonders and miracles that
occurred during the life of Elder Porphyrios, one can see a humble and simple life characterized
most of all by an ardent love for Christ. He learned this at a young age from parents
who taught him the prayers and hymns of the Orthodox Church in the village of Agios Ioannis
in Evia, Greece. His family didn’t have much though and so
he had to drop out of school in order to work. He spent time working in the family garden
and tending sheep before being sent to work for a merchant in Piraeus
at the age of twelve. But the story of St. John the Hut-dweller
and tales of pilgrims from Mount Athos stirred in him a desire to become a monk and so he
tried twice to go there only to turn back because he missed his parents. On the third try, he sat on a ship in the
harbor of Thessaloniki and watched in awe as monks in cassocks came
on board. Suddenly, a talk monk with a long beard appeared. “Where are you going, my boy?” “To the Holy Mountain.” “Hmm. And what are you planning to do there?” “I’m going to work.” “Ah, you should consider coming to Kavsokalyvia. That’s where
I live with my brother in a hermitage in the desert and, well, we’re looking for extra
help. Come along, my boy, and we shall glorify Christ
together. Tell me, what books have you read?” “Just the Letter of Christ, the Letter of
Our Lady, and the Life of Saint John the Hut-dweller. I, well … I spent very little time in school.” “Hmm, no matter. We can teach you. We’ve got work and we’ll pay you too. And we might even make a monk of you!” “Ok, I will go!” “May it be blessed. My name is Father Panteleimon. I live with my brother, Father Ioannikios,
in the Hermitage of St. George. You shall meet him tomorrow. For now, we set sail for Daphne. So, what is your name?” “My name is Evangelos.” Although too young to set foot on Mount Athos,
Father Panteleimon claimed Evangelos as his nephew and so, through God’s providence,
the young boy gained both a spiritual father and passage to the Mount Athos. Little did he know at that time just what
awaited him not only on the Holy Mountain but also the many wonders and miracles he
would see in his lifetime. One day I went for confession to Elder Porphyrios
at the Polyclinic in Athens. The look in his eyes, it was like he could
see right through me. “Are you well,” he asked. “There is something wrong.” “Yes, Elder, I am scared to talk about it.” He told me to go upstairs immediately and
see a doctor for an examination and then return and tell him what the doctor said. I did as he directed and they discovered a
cancerous tumor. They were to operate in three days. I told the Elder and he asked me to kneel
with him and say the Jesus Prayer. When we finished he made the sign of the cross
over me. I left with some measure of peace but, as
you can imagine, also concern over what was to come. Yet when I returned in three days, the doctor
discovered that I was clear. The tumor had disappeared completely. We were astonished and the doctor went with
me to see the Elder in the chapel. “My beloved priest,” said the doctor,
“what did you do to this woman that you made her well? If I had not touched the tumor with my own
hands and had not seen it with my own eyes three days ago, I would not believe it.” The Elder smiled and said something that I
will never forget: “My eyes see many things. I see very many miracles. The grace of God acts on behalf of the faith
of the people. You must believe that miracles also happen
today because Christ is the same yesterday, today, and unto the ages of ages.” One day near the hut of Saint George at Kavsokalyvia,
Father Ioannikios asked young Evangelos to do some work. “Take these stones from here and carry them
over there.” But later, when Father Panteleimon came by. “You crooked fellow! Why did you do that? Is that where we want these stones? Take them back to where you found them!” And so, he did. On the next day, Father Ioannikios came by
again. “Didn’t I tell you to take the stones
over there?” “Forgive me, elder,” replied Evangelos. “I had carried almost all of them over,
but the other elder saw me and said, ‘Take them back where you found them; that’s where
we need them.’ And so I took them back.” Father Ioannikios said nothing. Such was life on the Holy Mountain. His heart and mind being constantly purified
through obedience to his elders and by reading the psalter, the divine services, the lives
of the saints, and holy scripture. He would later say that the secret to the
spiritual life is obedience as it transforms you in everything. He loved and trusted his elders and made their
will his own for over six years, even being tonsured a monk midway through. For work, he ran through the forest barefoot,
leaping from rock to rock with joy while chanting a hymn and gathering snails for food, moving
earth to make a garden, or cutting and carving wood. But he also prayed while he worked, making
every movement and moment a chance to worship God. Years later, Evangelos walked with Father
Panteleimon to the Great Lavra in order to be tonsured into the Great Schema and be given
the name Niketas . As they walked, they passed by the place where Saint Neilos the Myrrh-streamer
had lived and they smelled a heavenly fragrance. His elder didn’t react and so the young
monk learned how one must take such occurrences with great simplicity. Although still a teenager, Niketas dreamed
only of living on the Holy Mountain for the rest of his life. As I remember him, Elder Porphyrios was a gift from God towards
the Church … a great light in our present darkness. I spoke with him often. I felt comfortable next to him, never pressured. He had great respect for a person’s freedom. His advice was precise and accurate but also
specific to the individual. He talked most about love. Love for Christ. “When we love Christ,” he would say, “our
soul is freed from fear.” He lived within time and yet transcended time. We are so bound by time that it is often difficult
to understand these things. Such as when we first met, he described to
me three churches in my village of Panourgia and how there were caves
in the mountains nearby where people used to live. He had never visited and yet described it
so well. “Yet, there are only two churches,” I
thought to myself. Of course, years later I began to understand
that he was describing my village not just at that moment in time but in the past, present,
and future. For there were men who had lived in the caves
— rebels who fought against the Ottomans. And while there were only two churches at
the time of our conversation, a third church was built many years later just as he described. This is incredible! His spiritual vision was not limited by space
either. Such as when he telephoned a spiritual child
of his who worked as an officer for NATO. Apparently one of their submarines was going
to pass by an area where there were dangerous shoals. The elder warned the officer about this and
the officer gave orders for the sub to avoid that area. Even now I marvel at these things. To me, he was like an Old Testament prophet,
one filled with the Holy Spirit. One day the young monk Niketas entered the
church before the simantron had sounded and sat hidden in the narthex in prayer. Suddenly, an old Russian monk entered. It was Dimas — a hidden saint who lived
high above the hermitage. The old monk began doing prostrations while
saying “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Most Holy Theotokos, save us.” Soon, the old Russian fell into ecstasy. Somehow, through grace the prayer of this
saint descended upon young Niketas and, deeply moved, he began to cry. He venerated the icon of the Holy Trinity
and then remained for the Divine Liturgy. Upon receiving communion, intense joy overwhelmed
him. Niketas ran through the forest, arms raised
in the form of a cross, and chanted, “Glory to You, oh God, glory to You!” He remained in this state for some time before
going silent and weeping many tears without effort. It was a true encounter with the grace of
the living God. That evening, while looking out to the sea,
he suddenly saw his elders descending some marble steps even though they were far away
and on the other side of the mountain. He ran to meet them. “How did you know we were coming,” asked
Father Panteleimon. Young Niketas didn’t reply. But later he confided in him, “I don’t know how to explain this to you,
but when you were on the other side of the hill I saw you loaded with your haversacks
and I ran to meet you. The hill was like a pane of glass and I saw
you on the other side.” “All right, all right,” replied Father
Panteleimon, “don’t give any importance to these things, and don’t tell anyone,
because the evil one is watching.” One day I took a friend of mine, a German
doctor, to see Elder Porphyrios even though she didn’t know Greek and the Elder didn’t
know German. I figured that I would be able to interpret
for them. But soon they were speaking and it appeared
that an interpreter wasn’t needed. It wasn’t just small talk either — they
discussed serious medical issues! After my friend left I asked, “Elder, do
you know German?” “Oh, as if I knew German. Didn’t you hear, I was speaking Greek and
she was speaking German. But we both understood in our own language. Don’t ask about these things. They are done by the Holy Spirit!” After the encounter with old Dimas, the young
monk Nikitas found his senses transformed. He saw many things but did not speak about
them. He could name a bird just from its call … a
flower at a distance just by catching its scent upon the wind. He could see water and other elements beneath
the earth and the far reaches of outer space just as easy as he could read the secrets
of a person’s heart. Although these were gifts he never sought
nor expected, he remained acutely sensitive and tuned in to all throughout the remainder
of his life. He always gave glory to God for such things
and believed that he received them only so that he would become good. One story he shared from this time was about
the day where he went into the forest to pray and found in the sound of the nightingale
a song much like a doxology unto God. It reminded him of the unknown life of the
monks of the Holy Mountain. He too wanted to remain in the desert, alone
with God in stillness and humility like the nightingale. But then everything changed one cold and rainy
day. Nikitas went to gather snails for food and
climbed high above where even the wild boars would not roam. But as he returned to the hermitage, the saliva
from the snails leaked out onto his back and froze in the damp wind that blew down to the
sea. He became ill with pleurisy and without good
medicine he became like skin and bones. And so, just only nineteen, he was forced
to return to the world. He hadn’t seen a woman or child in over
seven years and must have wondered at just what awaited him in this return to a now strange
world. The Elder was a tireless worker for Christ. I visited him several times but we also spoke
by telephone, which in the hands of the Elder became a great gift from God. He received many calls, kept up with his spiritual
children, and resolved many difficulties. That’s not to say that he wasn’t tuned
in by other means. Like the night when I became frustrated over
my problems and cried out from home, “Where are you Elder, where are you?” Just then the phone rang, and when I answered
I heard the Elder reply, “Will you let me sleep tonight?” He really got my attention then and I carefully
listened as he gently offered advice and gave his blessing for the resolution to my problem. He had other means of communication too. I heard of a woman who struggled with a great
burden. She wanted to visit the Elder but couldn’t
make the trip. One night, she saw the Elder in her dream
and he spoke to her about her problem and gave her comfort. Upon waking the next morning she decided to
call the Elder. Without mentioning the dream she told the
Elder that she wanted to speak with him about a problem. He amazed her by saying, “But you told me
about it yesterday. You want to tell me the same thing again?” Amazing how he could communicate. He cared for us all very much. On his way home young Nikitas met his brother-in-law
and was told that his parents were still alive and that his father was just down the road. Nikitas, now with a long beard and hair below
his waist, approached his father with anticipation. “Who are you? Where are you from?” asked his father. “I’m a monk. Do you have any family? How many children do you have?” “I had four but one of my sons disappeared
years ago. We lost him. He was working in Piraeus and he disappeared,”
said his father. “In Piraeus? What was his name?” “Vangelis.” “Vangelis? He used to be a friend of mine.” “Tell me, do you know where he is?” “Alas, he died …”
“He died?” replied his father as he began to cry. Nikitas could no longer bear it and exclaimed,
“It’s me, father! Evangelos.” What joy as they embraced! His father gave thanks to God and listened
to the story of his son’s life on Mount Athos. But back home, his mother was not so welcoming. She scolded him without mercy and was further
embarrassed when the neighbors began poking fun at this curious monk with long hair. And so, Nikitas put his hair in a pot of boiling
water and left it. This damaged the hair and it fell out, leaving
him almost bald. Nikitas began eating milk, eggs, and cheese
and his health recovered as he stayed at the nearby Monastery of St. Haralambos. He tried twice to return to the Holy Mountain
only to get sick again and return home. Then one day his name came up during a discussion
between the Bishop Panteleimon of Kymi and some monks and theology students. They were discussing monasticism in the refectory
when the bishop sighed and exclaimed, “Ah, find me monks! There’s nothing else I want. Good, faithful and patient monks. Nothing else. Just that. Then I can do wonders!” “Your grace,” replied a student, “you’re
crying out for monks, and yet there’s a monk up at St. Haralambos who’s pining away
and you don’t even know him.” “Really?” exclaimed the Bishop. “Yes, there’s a poor young lad who’s
come from the Holy Mountain. He’s very good, but he’s very weak — skin
and bone — and the abbot has him doing chores.” “Well then, you’ll go down there at once
and bring him here to me.” And so the student took a letter to the abbot
of St. Haralambos and they sent twenty year old Niketas on to meet him right away. Upon meeting, the bishop put his hand upon
Niketas’ head and listened to his story about returning home. Soon after the bishop introduced him to Archbishop
of Sinai, Porphyrios III. Niketas through discernment revealed something
to the Archbishop that no-one else knew and so, seeing the grace which rested upon the
young monk, the Archbishop ordained him a deacon on the Feast of St. Paraskevi
and then a priest on the Feast of St. Panteleimon, and gave him the name Porphyrios. Two years later — just in his early twenties
— he was made a father confessor and throughout the rest of his life people were drawn to
him because of his gift of discernment. About this, the Elder would later say, “I
only speak when grace informs me to … what God enlightens me to say from my love for
everyone. In confession, I say the Jesus Prayer and
then abandon myself to Christ. Whatever He wills. Whatever He reveals. Whereas others see things externally, with
the eyes of the soul I see more deeply. I see how things are internally. I see and read the soul of the other person.” I picked up an elderly
priest who asked me to take him to Turkovounia. Along the way, I sang as I usually did in
my cab. “If only you knew how to chant,” he said. I was bold and careless in my reply. “Chant? When I was married I went to church and when
I die they will take me again. That is why a person should become a Christian,
only if he so desires.” He asked me how many children I had and I
thought he was just making small talk. But before I could say anything he said, “You
have two, Vasiliki and Panagioti.” He then went on to describe them in detail
— both their character and inner disposition. I was stunned. He even knew my name. “My blessed Kosta, your children do not
look upon you as their father. Oh my, Kosta, you live away from home and
even have another woman.” He knew everything. “Did God send you here to tell me these
things,” I said as I began to cry. Then he spoke the words that would forever
change my life. “What will happen now Kosta? Your children will become bad children. Send this woman away and I will bring you
and your wife together. But first you must become a Christian. If you do not become a Christian the same
thing will happen to you again. Can you see this now? Today the heavens have opened up and your
taxi has become the place in which the Holy Spirit and the Love of our Christ has revealed
itself. How do I know these things? God revealed them to me so that you could
be saved.” I resolved to change my life and soon he brought
my wife and I together again. Years later, our phone rang one day and one
of the kids answered it. “Who is it”, my child asked. He replied, “Father Porphyrios calling for
Kosta. I am one of his friends.” Even when on the Holy Mountain, Elder Porphyrios
had wished to care for the sick and suffering. He was seeking such a place when a friend
referred him to the Professor who managed the Athens Polyclinic and was looking for
a priest. The professor wanted a priest with a degree
in theology and wondered if he were a fit. The Elder replied, “I don’t know, Professor, you must decide. I have a desire to serve in a hospital. It’s a desire I’ve had from the time I
was in the desert. Most importantly, I know how to read and perform
the liturgy. If you give me a chance you will be pleased.” The professor wanted the elder for the position
and thus took him to see Archbishop Chrysanthos of Trapezounta for approval. “What education do you have?” “Your beatitude, I’m not educated. I learned to read in the desert.” “How long did you attend school?” “Only one year of primary school.” “What can we do, Professor?” asked the
Archbishop. “It’s the center of Athens there in Omonia
Square. People will think we’re mad.” “Not at all. He’s the priest I want, he’s the man for
the job.” “How’s it to be done. Do you know how to sing?” “I’ve learned in a practical sort of way,”
replied the young monk. “Listen, my child. This is a post that needs an educated person
— a priest who’s able to preach, because that area is a center of vice and corruption
and there must be someone who can speak and teach the people. Nevertheless, the professor wants you. So what I would say is this: you’re not
educated, but at least try to maintain a dignified bearing, and I would even go so far as to
say that perhaps your manner is better than that of someone with a theological education
who would preach with fine words.” “With your blessing, Your Beatitude!” My family lived in Athens after the war and,
when I was seventeen, I went out to buy some oil for our lamps. We were more old fashioned back then and so,
when I stopped to speak with a young man I knew for a few minutes, my brother misconstrued
it and told my mother, “Effi has shamed us, she was flirting with a boy on the street.” My mother scolded me and I was deeply hurt. But the next day, my father treated me kindly
and asked if I could help him in the garden. I went but had not slept much and secretly
resolved to eat some weed killer so that I could die. But just when I put my hand in my pocket,
I heard footsteps in the garden and suddenly a priest appeared as if from nowhere and said: “Dear Effi, do you know how wonderful paradise
is — all joy and delight. Christ is all light and he scatters joy and
delight on everyone. He is waiting for us in the next life to give
us the gift of Paradise. But there is also hell, which is all darkness,
anxiety, and depression. If you swallow what you’ve got in your pocket
you’ll go to hell. So throw it away at once so that we don’t
lose the beauty of Paradise.” I was speechless. Who could this be? I gathered myself and asked him to stay and
then ran to get my father. But when we returned, he was no longer there. It didn’t matter. His words had touched my heart — it really
changed my life and I began moving in a more positive direction. Years later, I went across town to visit my
godmother. She asked me to prepare some coffee and sweets
on a tray and then bring it to the lounge for a visitor. I did as she asked but when I walked into
the room I nearly dropped the tray. Her visitor was the same priest that saved
me in the garden years ago. “Hello, I’m Father Porphyrios,” he said
to me smiling. From then on we developed a friendship. And now, I’m married with children and thank
God everyday for the prayers and counsel of the Elder over the years. Elder Porphyrios served in the Chapel of St.
Gerasimos at the Athens Polyclinic for three decades and saw many sick and suffering people
and healed them of their spiritual and physical wounds through the grace of God. But he initially thought of leaving. During the first Sunday liturgy in the Chapel,
the Elder noticed noise coming from the street, buses and people and most of all, a gramophone
playing in one of the shops. He was used to the silence of the desert not
the sound of music blaring out love songs. He visited the shop and asked the owner if
he would turn the music off on Sunday mornings. The shop owner replied, “I’ve got my living
to earn and children to feed. Mind your own business!” The Elder thought about leaving for another
church but remembered how the Archbishop and Professor gave him this chance. So, he prayed to God for guidance: “My God, I don’t want You to speak to
me; I don’t want You to show me a sign. But with your own love reveal to me something
simple that will enable me to know whether I should stay or leave. Something very simple. I’m not asking for a miracle. I’m ashamed to.” He prayed and fasted for three days and awaited
God’s answer in silence. Then one day a young boy entered the chapel
to light a candle. He had a physics textbook and the Elder decided
to flip through it. He found in it an experiment where a small
rock was thrown in a calm pond and ripples were created. Then a much larger rock was thrown in and
larger ripples covering a greater area overcame the smaller ripples. He immediately thought of prayer and how the
fervor and intensity of his prayer should be enough to overcome the noise. From this simple lesson he found the answer
to his problem and never again noticed the sounds from the street. He would later say, “From then on, my mind
was focused solely on divine worship. I felt that I was in heaven as well as on
earth … and we were all embraced by divine grace.” One day I traveled with a friend of mine to
see the Elder. After we parked the car we walked through
a forest to get to the monastery. My friend was a doctor and he wanted to speak
with the Elder about an urgent matter. But when we arrived we found that the Elder
was away. So, we spoke with other pilgrims and then,
as night approached, we decided to return through the forest so that we could go home. As we talked we somehow took a wrong turn
and became lost. I told my friend, let’s at least find the
main road so that we could regain our sense of direction. I also asked my friend to silently pray with
me for the Elder’s help so that we could get back safely. A half an hour later, we found a familiar
road. Just then, the moment we stepped out of the
forest, we saw the headlights of an approaching car. It stoped right by us and the Elder surprised
us by calling out from the car. The driver was a bishop who also happened
to be a theology professor. He got out of the car so that my friend could
get in and speak with the Elder. I told the Bishop what had just happened to
us and he was amazed. We shared a few other stories about the Elder
as my friend discussed his issues. When my friend finally left the Elder, he
was overjoyed at the guidance that he had received. The Elder saw his problems before my friend
even mentioned them and then offered a reasonable solution. We kissed the hand of the bishop and the Elder
before heading back to our car. I’m amazed even now when I think of how
our meeting with the Elder, through his prayer, was perfectly timed. One step in any direction would have caused
us to miss him. And yet the timing of our walk and the arrival
of his car the moment we reached the road was not the result of chance or coincidence. And to think, a well-educated doctor and a
theology professor and bishop coming to this monk who completed only one year of elementary
school. God is truly wondrous in His saints! The Elder long desired to establish
a monastery and found an opportunity in 1979. He found land in Milesi but needed to also
find water. A drilling company came and began drilling. But they struggled to find water and were
about to give up. So the Elder prayed and with his spiritual
vision he located an underground stream, measured the distance to it, and even tasted the water
to make sure that it was clean. When he told the owner of the drill the man
replied, “That’s impossible! We’re out of here.” “No,” said the Elder, “please try again
and in this location and depth.” They found the refreshing water just as the
Elder had described and soon after work began on the construction of a women’s monastery,
the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration. The Elder very much wanted the monastery to
be a “university of the Church”, much like he experienced, where the nuns would
learn and be sanctified through prayers, reading holy scripture, the church fathers, and lives
of the saints, and by chanting hymns and the divine services. He understood that a person is sanctified
through this without realizing it and that they would also learn love and humility by
hearing the words of the saints. As construction on this “spiritual workshop”
began, the Elder did his best to continue seeing visitors for confession, guidance,
and to provide comfort and healing for all in need. And yet his lifelong struggle with various
illnesses increasingly took its toll. After reading the life of St. Nektarios, I wondered how all those who came into contact with him must have felt. How does it feel to be close to someone who showed so many signs of holiness? So, when a friend of mine in Athens told me about Elder Porphyrios in 1981, I didn’t hesitate to meet him even though I understood very little about these things. I entered his cell and knelt by his bed where he rested and he opened his eyes and gave me a blessing. I wanted to speak with him about my problems but then I realized it wasn’t necessary. I could tell that he knew everything about me by the way he spoke … he knew my thoughts, the state of my soul, who I was, where I was from, and even who I wanted to be. Yet, he was so childlike and humble when revealing all this to me. From that moment, I became aware that my life could no longer be the same. I had acquired a direct and personal experience of God through the Elder. I left filled with joy and delight at having seen with my own eyes the miraculous way in which this world is bridged with eternity. This continued as I visited the Elder over the years. Like the day we were listening to the church radio. At one point, I asked him a question to which he paused for a few seconds and then said, “Listen.” At that moment the answer to my question was given by the person speaking over the radio. When I was pregnant with my first child I became very anxious. At two months, the Elder comforted me by phone, saying, “I see the child in your womb. He is an angel.” With each conversation he used the word “see” for both present and future events. After my son was born I visited the Elder and showed him a picture of my boy. Only then did I realize that the Elder had become blind. The phrase “I see”, which he often used, referred to his spiritual vision which remained healthy even though he had lost his natural sight a year earlier. What am I to say? To know someone like the Elder is to know that God exists and to have every question about Him answered. I came to realize that Christ is the only truth, “yesterday, today and forever.” I even thought about writing all these things down one day, the Elder’s words and what I experienced. But when I went to ask, he replied, “There’s no reason to write down the things that I say. Whatever I say is written in the Gospel. Study the Bible and you will find it written there.” The Elder suffered from various ailments throughout
his life due to his ascetic struggle. Near the end of his time at the Polyclinic
he developed kidney problems, once even slipping into a coma when his operation was delayed
so that he could celebrate Holy Week services. In 1978, he had a heart attack and remained
in the hospital for three weeks. He also developed cancer of the pituitary
gland. The tumor pressed on his optic nerve which
resulted in him eventually losing his eyesight apart from the already dreadful pain. When he couldn’t eat regular food because
of a bleeding stomach, he sustained himself on a few spoonfuls of milk and water each
day. One might wonder why the Elder didn’t just
heal himself as he had done for so many others. Of this, he said, “My illness is a special
favor from God, who is inviting me to enter into the mystery of His love. I do not pray for God to make me well. I pray for Him to make me good. I’m certain that God knows that I am in
pain. But I pray for my soul, for God to forgive
my transgressions. I give thanks to God. I am sinful and God is trying to purify me.” Through all these and other ailments, the
Elder did his best to see people and give advice until he could no longer do so. When we first met the Elder, I was impressed by his radiance and simplicity. Before I even spoke he gave us a blessing for our wedding. His words were a revelation for each of us, moving us towards the will of God. Yet we still did not understand how bold before Christ he had become in prayer. Soon after I underwent several medical tests and we realized that it would be very difficult to have children. We shared our pain with the Elder but he laughed, saying “Do not worry. You will have many children and one right after the other.” We doubted and wondered, how could this be? One night soon after, I fell asleep and had a dream in which I saw the Elder in gold vestments celebrating the Divine Liturgy along with a host of angels. One of the angels handed me something … this on the same day that we received word of my first pregnancy. The angels chanted “The Dove, the Merciful, gives birth, hail Ever Virgin.” I later learned that this was the hymn that was to be chanted on the day that my first son was born. My dream confirmed both the pregnancy and date of birth, but I only realized this much later. We went to the Elder for a blessing shortly before our son’s birth to share our joy. He described for us the character of the baby, his talents, and gave us guidance and direction on how to raise the child. As our relationship with the Elder grew, so did our family. He opened our eyes in such a way that I now see God in a personal way, a God who is powerful and loving, not one who is uncaring and distant. In his youth, the Elder dreamed to live like
St. John the Hut-dweller, the saint who had fled his parents and home and became a monk
only to return to his parents in secret. The Elder too had fled his home only to return
to the world because of illness. He reflected on this in a farewell letter
to his spiritual children just months before his repose. “The world thought highly of me, and everyone
shouts that I’m a saint. I however, feel that I am the most sinful
person in the world…. Now that I’m leaving for heaven, I have
the feeling that God will say to me, “What are you doing here?” I have only one thing to say to him, “I
am not worthy of here, Lord, but whatever Your love wills, it’ll do for me.” From then on, I don’t know what will happen. I, however, wish for God’s love to act. I always pray that my spiritual children will
love God, who is Everything, so that He will make us worthy to enter His earthly uncreated
Church. We must begin from here. I always made the effort to pray, to read
the hymns of the Church, the Holy Scripture and the Lives of the Saints. May you do the same. I tried, by the grace of God, to approach
God and may you also do the same. I beg all of you to forgive me for whatever
I did to upset you.” The Elder reposed in the early morning of
Dec. 2nd, 1991. My wife had cancer and the doctors gave her
three months to live. My oldest son had previously arranged a trip to Mount Athos with some of his friends and despite the situation, we encouraged him to
go. After he left, my wife took a turn for the
worse. The doctors told us that the end was near. They offered surgery that would at least allow
my son a chance to see her again. But while my son was on the Holy Mountain,
he and his friends were sitting under a tree enjoying a break when suddenly a priest-monk
appeared. They stood up, kissed his hand, and he began
saying each of their names. They were surprised at this and then he said
to my son, “Tell your mother not to have surgery. She does not need it.” “Do you know her,” my son asked. “I know her. I know all of you.” “But who are you?” “I am Elder Porphyrios,” he said and then
left. On their way home, the boys stopped in a store
in Ouranoupolis and saw a photograph of the elder. One of them said, “Hey, here is the elder
we saw on the Holy Mountain.” The pharmacist heard this and was startled. He asked if they were sure that they had seen
this particular elder. “Of course we’re sure,” they replied. “We talked with him and he knew our names
and families.” “I’m sure that you saw him,” said the
pharmacist. “But please don’t be alarmed. For he has been dead for five years.” Amazed, my son returned and told us this story
and said to my wife, “do not have surgery because you are well.” Two days later we went to the hospital. My wife came out of the exam room and said,
“I am not having an operation. I am well.” I asked the doctor what had happened and he
said that she felt better and didn’t want to have an operation. So they ran tests to see what had changed
and when the results came back the next day we found that she was clear. The doctor said it was as if the cancer had
never touched her. “Why don’t you just believe what Elder
Porphyrios told me on Mount Athos,” asked my son. Upon hearing this the doctor look startled. “What did you say? Did you mention Elder Porphyrios?” The doctor then pulled out a photograph of
the elder from his pocket and showed it to my son. “You saw him, my boy?” “Yes,” replied my son. “The tests are correct,” said the doctor. “She is well and she can go home.” Two years have gone by and my wife is still
in good health. I love Elder Porphyrios very much. Whenever we have troubles, he strengthens
us through his intercessions to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

36 Replies to “With the Eyes of the Soul: The Life of St. Porphyrios”

  1. It is a great blessing to see a video life of such a recent saint. God willing there might later be another for St. Iakovos of Mt Athos, too.

  2. Thank you so much. I am about to watch the video. I will comment when I have viewed it, but again, THANK YOU. We need this

  3. Thank you very much for these films. They are very precious indeed and the grace of the saints can be deeply felt. The final miracle related in this film makes one want to weep. God bless you.

  4. Amazing!! Thank you so much for all your hard work. Truly magnificent video and documentary. Please please please do more. God bless you always! Glory to God!

  5. Friends we are glad that you are enjoying our documentary! May the prayers of St. Porphyrios be with you! To see more documentaries like this please help support us on Patreon. We hope to continue making videos for many years and we need your help to do that! Follow the link below to support us!

  6. Gloy to God! I just finished watching this beautiful film and must say it is a fine tribute to Elder Porphyrios and a grace filled work. I felt my soul being comforted and my faith strengthened as I heard the tale of the Elder's life and the many ways that our loving God worked and is still working through him. Thank you for this tremendous offering. May Elder Porphyrios bless it and may many be healed and saved through his prayers.

  7. One of my favorite stories about Saint Porphyrios; about a month after he died, a man in Australia who knew him and wasn't aware that he had died decided to call him for a chat. Elder Porphyrios answered and before they hung up, he told his friend, "Do not call me again because I am no longer in this world. I died and now live in Heaven."
    Having read the life of Saint Porphyrios, it seems entirely feasible that not even the grave could keep that guy off the phone. He loved to chat.

  8. No words to express our thanks and gratitude to God and to all of you Dearest Brothers and all your Co-workers that have contributed to the making of this beyond words Divinely Inspired Presentation. May the Blessings of the Lord be upon all of us through the fervent Prayers and Intersessions of St. Porphyries. Amen.

  9. I am now just at the beginning of this video and i am very impressed! This is something outside this world, it's a divine grace from God and Saint Porphyrios became a God's friend! Amazing!

  10. Excellent documentary about the saint. Truly inspiring. His life inspires us to keep going and put our trust in God no matter what trials and tribulations we face during our lifetime.

  11. I was really into this story until the Father had claimed him to be his nephew, therefore it was built on a lie. Anyone else catch this?

  12. I was blessed to know Saint Porphyrios for 10 years. My daughter had red spots on her arms and body. We took her to several specialists with endless examinations. While visiting the Saint one day, the Saint told my daughter (9 years old then) to roll up her sleeve. He asked my wife what did the doctor's diagnose? She answered that they are still doing test, but believe it has to do with her blood. She took the hands of my daughter and wife and prayed for 5 minutes. He said compassionately to my wife: "I feel your great love for your daughter. After a few day the red spots will leave." And truly this happened after three days. Pray for us St Porphyrios.

  13. I chose Saint Porphyrios to be my Saint when I was baptized into the Orthodox Church 4/20/19, his very face brings me great peace and joy. I love learning about him. I love learning about orthodoxy in general, the more you learn the more you fall in love with Our Lord.

    Saint Porphyrios pray for us ☦️🔥

  14. Dear Lord Jesus Christ, through the prayers of Saint Porphyrios please help me with my addictions as I believe I am dying of cancer and have no way of redeeming myself of my corrupt life.

  15. You guys are amazing. Keep doing such documentaries to teach the world about men who had the gift to bring God down to the valleys of Athos. I myself was fortunate and blessed to visit Mount Athos in 2014, a journey that has stayed with me always thereafter.

  16. Wonderful work. thank you so much for this. Could i ask for a link to the beautiful music playing in the background?

  17. I read Wounded by Love, great book, but your film was a great addition to it,and you are an asset to Orthodoxy, thanks.

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