Monk Païsios the Athonite(1924-1994) – 12 July
Much has been written about the Elder. Those who knew him best and were closest to him have mostly chosen to remain silent. I have imitated them. Not because I was one of them. I’ve simply respected his memory. The Elder, I think, didn’t much care for quantity, sheer size or publicity. We were neighbours for a decade.
I used to watch the crowds in his garden. We’d point out the way to his kelli to pilgrims. I didn’t visit him all that regularly. I followed certain visitors and went only in times of great need. I respected his privacy and the offer of his love.
He was born in Cappadocia, in Farasa, in 1924. His father was the village president and had ten children. Both his parents were well-known for their devotion to the Church. A few days before they left for Greece, as a result of the dreadful Asia Minor catastrophe, Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian (†1924), whose biography he so beautifully wrote, baptized him, giving him his own name. In this way, as the writer and artist Nikos Gavriil Pentzikis, from Thessaloniki, said, ‘the living father Païsios is the departed father Arsenios’. As an infant refugee, he arrived in Piraeus and was taken thence to Corfu, where his godfather [Saint Arsenios] fell asleep in the Lord, before the child and his family moved on to Konitsa. He just about completed primary school and then took up carpentry.
After he’d completed his military service, he came to the Holy Mountain to be a monk, as was his great wish. He lived in our skete- Saint Panteleïmon, belonging to the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousiou, in Esfigmenou, Filotheou, Katounakia, the hermitage of Saint Galaktion on Mount Sinai, the monastery of Stomio in Konitsa, the Skete of Iviron, the monastery of Stavronikita, in Papa-Tykhon the Russian’s (†1968) kelli of the Precious Cross, and in the Koutloumousiou kelli of the Panagouda [Mother of God]. Even as a young man, he loved contributing, studying and praying. In particular, he read assiduously the Lives of the Saints, the Sayings of the Fathers and Abba Isaak the Syrian. He paid great attention to his spiritual father and would visit Athonite Elders to seek their advice.