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Saint Nikephoros the Leper


Nikephoros the Lep­er, who reposed on 4 Jan­u­ary 1964, was offi­cial­ly num­bered among the can­on­ized Saints of the Ortho­dox Church by the Holy Syn­od of the Ecu­meni­cal Patri­ar­chate on Sat­ur­day, Decem­ber 1, 2012.

Below is a brief life of the new­ly-glo­ri­fied Saint Nikephoros writ­ten by Monk Simon in the book Nikephoros the Lep­er: The Radi­ant Ath­lete of Patience (Athens, 2007 [Greek]):

Fr. Nikephoros (in the world, Nicholas) was born in a vil­lage of Cha­nia, in Serikari. His par­ents were sim­ple and pious vil­lagers, who while he was still a small child, died and left him an orphan. Thus, at the age of thir­teen he left his home, trav­eled to Cha­nia and began to work in a bar­ber­shop. There he start­ed to show the first signs of Hansen’s dis­ease (i.e. lep­rosy). At that time, lep­ers were exiled to the island of Spinalo­ga, because lep­rosy was a trans­mis­si­ble dis­ease and was treat­ed with fear and hor­ror. Nicholas, when he was six­teen years old and when the signs of his dis­ease began to be more vis­i­ble, to flee from enclo­sure on Spinalo­ga fled with a boat for Egypt. There he remained work­ing in Alexan­dria, again in a bar­ber­shop, how­ev­er the signs of his dis­ease became even more evi­dent, espe­cial­ly on his hands and face. Due to the sug­ges­tions of a cler­ic he fled to Chios where there was a home for lep­ers, in which was a priest, Fr. Anthi­mos Vagianos, lat­er St. Anthi­mos of Chios.

Nicholas reached Chios in 1914 at the age of 24. At the lep­er home in Chios, where there was a group­ing of many beau­ti­ful lit­tle homes, was a chapel of St. Lazaros, where was pre­served the won­der-work­ing icon of Pana­gia of Ypakoe (Obe­di­ence). In that place was opened the sta­di­um of virtues for Nicholas. With­in two years St. Anthi­mos dis­cerned that he was ready for the angel­ic schema and ton­sured him a monk with the name Nikephoros. The dis­ease pro­gressed and evolved in the absence of suit­able med­i­cines, and brought many great changes (the med­i­cine was found lat­er, in 1947).

Fr. Nikephoros lived with indis­crim­i­nate, gen­uine obe­di­ence, with aus­tere fast­ing, work­ing in gar­dens. He also com­piled in a cat­a­logue the mir­a­cles of St. Anthi­mos, which he had seen with his own eyes (many took the place of heal­ing of the demon-pos­sessed).

There was a unique spir­i­tu­al rela­tion­ship between St. Anthi­mos and monk Nikephoros, who “did not sep­a­rate him­self from him by even a step”, as men­tioned by Fr. Theok­l­i­tos of Diony­s­iou in his book “St. Anthi­mos of Chios”. Fr. Nikephoros prayed for end­less hours at night, per­form­ing count­less pros­tra­tions, not offer­ing a word to any­one nor spoil­ing his heart on any­one, and was the head chanter of the church. Because of his ill­ness, how­ev­er, slow­ly he lost his eye­sight and most of the hymns were chant­ed by oth­ers.

In 1957 the Lovokomeio of Chios was closed and the remain­ing patients, along with Fr. Nikephoros, were sent to the Anti-Lep­er Sta­tion of St. Bar­bara in Athens, in Aiga­leo. At that time Fr. Nikephoros was about 67 years old. His body parts and his eyes had been total­ly affect­ed and trans­formed from the ill­ness.
There, in the Anti-Lep­er sta­tion lived Fr. Eume­nios, who also had Hansen’s dis­ease, but because of med­ical advances was total­ly cured. He decid­ed how­ev­er to remain for the rest of his life in the Anti-lep­er sta­tion near his fel­low patients, who he treat­ed with much love. Thus he became a spir­i­tu­al child of Fr. Nikephoros, to whom as a reward for his patience, the Lord had grant­ed many gifts. Many peo­ple flocked to the hum­ble cell of the lep­er monk Nikephoros, at St. Bar­bara of Aiga­leo, to receive his bless­ing. Those who met him men­tion that:

Though he was con­fined to bed, with wounds and pains, he did not mur­mur but showed great patience.

He had the grace of com­fort­ing the trou­bled.

His eyes were con­stant­ly irri­tat­ed, his vision was min­i­mal, and he had hooked hands and par­a­lyzed low­er extrem­i­ties.

Besides all of these he was most sweet, mild, great­ly smil­ing, relat­ing grace-filled sto­ries, he was enjoy­able, lov­able.

He said: “My chil­dren, do you pray? And how do you pray? …with the prayer of Jesus you should pray, with the “LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE MERCY ON ME”. Thus you should pray. This way is good.”

His face, which was eat­en by the signs of his sick­ness and wounds, shone and impart­ed joy to all who saw this total­ly poor and phe­nom­e­nal­ly sick man who said: “Let His holy Name be glo­ri­fied.”

At the age of 74, on Jan­u­ary 4th 1964, Fr. Nikephoros reposed in the Lord. His holy relics were fra­grant when they were lat­er uncov­ered. Fr. Eume­nios, and oth­er pious peo­ple offered many occa­sions when mir­a­cles occurred at the inter­ces­sions of Fr. Nikephoros.

Source: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/12/saint-nikephoros-leper-is-canonized-by.html