A Hesychast from the Holy Mountain in the Heart of a City
Elder Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (1906-1991), who was formally glorified as a saint by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in November 2013, has long been acknowledged and recognized as a luminary and spiritual guide with the special grace of 'clear sight'. His life was particularly remarkable in that he lived it in both ascetic fastnesses and urban contexts.
He left the world for Mount Athos at a young age and joined the Skete of Kavsokalyvia where, for seven years, under the guidance of the Elders Panteleimon and Ioannikios he lived a hesychastic life. It was there he underwent his most powerful formative experiences and received his gift of grace, and he always considered it his spiritual home. Bad health, however, forced him to return to the world and, after a number of years on his native island of Evia, at the beginning of the Second World War in Greece he was appointed chaplain of the Polyclinic Hospital next to Omonia Square in the heart of the city of Athens. After thirty-three years at the Polyclinic he retired first to his monastic retreat in the tiny monastery of St Nicholas at Kallisia, north of Athens, and later went on to found the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration at Milesi. In 1991, seeing his life was nearing its end, he returned to his hermitage on the Holy Mountain where he fell asleep in the Lord on 2 December.
This short study of the life and teaching of Saint Porphyrios is, in the words of its author Athanasios Papathanasiou, 'an exercise in encounter with the present'. He takes into consideration present realities and conditions, both in the Church and society, and in the light of theology understood as a living discipline endeavours to determine certain particular qualities of the saint, drawing particularly on the saint's own words as recorded in the book Wounded by Love. His insights and interpretations have an immediacy and freshness of singular relevance to our perception of what constitutes a holy personage in the modern world and point to how we can reorient our thinking accordingly.
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