St. Paisios of Mt. Athos
Icon by the hand of Eleni Dadi. Used with permission.
How can St. Paisios intercede for us?
St. Paisios has performed an array of miracles for an immeasurable amount of people, from healings of illnesses to preventing families from falling apart.
Saint Paisios is a very modern saint (having passed away in 1994, only four years before the average college freshman of 2017 was born) and can be called upon for inspiration in our spiritual lives in general, as well as encouragement for guidance and love when difficulties are happening in our lives.
Additionally, he is a great saint to pray to when one has doubts, hesitations, reservations, and questions about life and God, which often happens during college years for several people.
The Life of St. Paisios
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain was born on July 25th, 1924 in the village of Farasa in Cappadocia of Asia Minor. Elder Paisios was baptized by St. Arsenios of Cappadocia and named Arsenios, after the Holy Father. When he was about a month old, he and his family with St. Arsenios were relocated to northern Greece as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. At age 11, not only did Saint Paisios work an apprenticeship as a carpenter, but he also read the lives of the saints, seeking silence on top of mountains and in caves to keep vigil, fast, and pray. After a childhood friend suggested Christ may not be fully God, the saint was troubled, running to the forest to prostrate and pray for hours. Christ Himself then appeared to the boy Arsenios, saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believes in Me—though he were dead—yet, he shall Live.” Any doubt and questioning had vanished.
At age 15, St. Paisios attempted to join a monastery in the Metropolis of Iaonnina, but was told he was too young. His yearning for the monastic life and to be in isolation grew. He served in the military of Greece at 23 years old as a radio operator, asking the Theotokos to let him suffer, be in danger, but for him not to kill anyone, and for her to make him worthy to be a monk. In return, he would restore the monastery in Stomio that had been burned down during the second World War. After being honorably discharged on March 21st, 1950, the Elder visited Mount Athos, returned home to help his father and sisters with work, then returned back to the Holy Mountain to stay, becoming an intermediate monk at age 29. Later, he was tonsured into the Small Schema and given the name Paisios. After leaving Athos and spending three years helping to restore the Stomio monastery, as he had promised the Mother of God, he was finally able to live as a hermit on Mount Sinai in 1962 for two years. While there, he would sell wood carvings to humbly provide food for the local Bedouins. At this time, lifelong health problems began to surface, forcing him to return back to Mount Athos. In 1964, Saint Paisios received to the Great and Angelic Schema from his spiritual father, Elder Tikhon, at the hermitage of the Holy Cross. Numerous miracles were performed by Saint Paisios through his prayers, including the healing of multiple diseases such as blindness, heart problems, and cancer. He was gifted with clairvoyance and foresight and could address a person he had just met by name, tell them their life story, and even answer their questions before they could ask them. More and more pilgrims began visiting the Holy Elder for prayers and guidance.
St. Paisios departed the Holy Mountain for the final time on October 5th, 1993 to have a procedure to treat his cancer. He endured the intense and excruciating pain without a single complaint and even took visitors and continued to give counsel. Elder Paisios received his last communion on July 11th, 1994, giving his spirit up to the Lord the following day. On January 13th, 2015, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople canonized Elder Paisios as a saint.
Feast day: July 12
- Having only passed away in 1994 and been canonized in 2015, Saint Paisios is a very modern saint. Discuss the significance of modern sainthood and how modern saints can help us relate to saints from all generations.
- College life can make it difficult to keep a sincere spiritual life. Share examples of things in college that may pull one away from Christ and His Church. On the flip side, share what has been beneficial or you think will be beneficial in helping you in your spiritual life and turning to Christ during college.
- In what ways can you become a vessel for Christ to work through you? What does this look like?
Learn his Troparion
“The offspring of Farasa and the adornment of Athos and the imitator and equal in honor of the venerable ones from ages past, let us honor Paisios, O faithful, the vessel full of graces, who guards from all sorrows the faithful, crying out: ‘Glory to Him who gives you strength, glory to Him that crowned you, Glory to Him that works healings for all through you.’” (Mode 1)
Pray to him
O Holy Saint Paisios, true vessel of Christ, by allowing God to work through you, you enabled God’s will to become your own by obedience, intense spiritual struggle, and willingness to help others; intercede for us, O Blessed Paisios, that we too may dismiss earthly desires, pray for the whole world, and serve our brothers and sisters, so that we can sincerely serve Christ our God, the Lover of Man. May you continually guide us on our lifelong journey of becoming true human beings; pray for us and with us, that we may learn to pray, oppose the evil one, and be inspired in divine knowledge through our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom is due all honor and worship, together with His eternal Father, and His All-Holy and Life-Giving Spirit. Amen.
St. John Maxomovitch