"Dimitris Antonios Vakalopoulos (Polykastro, 23430-22310) in February 1995 went to kick a soccer ball during a game and suffered a fractured shin which required a pin put into his right broken leg in “Agios Dimitrios" Hospital. Afterwards he went home to recover. In three weeks, however, he his healthy left leg began to bloat and he had a fever of 39-40 degrees(Celsius) with convulsions. His local doctor gave him medication for pneumonia, but then suggested hospitalization.
In Kilkis, the doctor thought he had bruising and sent him back. But he continued to have chest pains, difficulty breathing, one leg [ενηλωμένο], the other swollen, and a high fever. The doctor Panteleimon Maidanoglou diagnosed 99.5% thrombophlebitis and recommended him to go to the Hospital immediately! In the 10-15 days in Kilkis, they did not give much weight to Dr. Maidanoglou’s diagnosis, and the patient had lost half of his weight (42 kilos)! He had lost contact with the world! 'He saw Saints that would shout at him, forests, meadows, flowers, Angels in white with wings, calm waves, streams, rivers. 'A crisis happened, he was not breathing, but turning dark!
His brother Pagonis Vakalopoulos (known soccer player in the "National" Greece and the "Hercules") sent for the doctor, Dr. Philipou at 3AM. The new doctor diagnosed thrombosis and pulmonary embolism! His father signed the paper and they immediately rushed him to Papanikolaou. The scan and angiogram showed 100% occulded artery in the lungs! Professor Spyros said to his father: "He's dying. Sign the paper. I will make an incision from top to bottom. We will look for the clot or clots and take them out, and he will be in the operating room for five hours. Go to see him in the ICU, but don’t anyone cry, because the boy will stay with us from now on!"
The mother, talking and crying with the other patients, learned about St. Raphael of Mytilene, and called the Monastery requesting a supplication service be chanted. Her phone card however did not record the long time that she was talking on the phone, and this, as she would understand later, was a sign that something extraordinary started to happen. In the ICU she gave her son a small booklet about St. Raphael, and told him that he should pray to the Saint to heal him, in all seriousness. He started to look through the booklet, was impressed by the miracles and stories of St. Raphael, and then he began to pray: "St. Raphael, if you actually exist, come to me and make me well." And his mother constantly entreated the Saint with faith and tears: "St. Raphael, I am a sinner. Please, take a look at my child!"
After some hours (5 minutes? 5 hours? I don’t remember) Dimitri felt a blinding light hit his eyes, like the glare of a thousand headlights. He asked his nurse repeatedly to extinguish the lights, and she would asserting that everything was off. Slowly, from the blinding light was revealed a priest, the same as was on the booklet that he had been given, standing in the air!
With his eyes open he asked him: "How did you appear here? Who are you?"
“I am Saint Raphael and I came to make you well."
"How did you get in here? And how will you make me well?"
"Believe me, tomorrow you will be well."
He disappeared. He started to reason, how he could cure me, who that was... and the priest appeared again, but with a more austere appearance, and he said:
"Do you dare to doubt that I can cure you?".
The sick man was left amazed, wondering how the Priest could know what he was thinking. "I don’t doubt, but how will you cure me?"
"Believe me, Dimitris, and tomorrow you will be well. But you must believe."
Note that, as long as I was talking with the Saint, the nurse was trying to calm me down: "Dimitri, relax. Who are you talking to? There is nobody here, only me and you."
Then the Saint said: "They can’t see or hear me. Only you. "
But further doubts were in the mind of the sick man: "Is this Priest working for us? Have I have gone mad and am not seeing things well? What does this mean? Is it possible?"
For the third time the Saint appeared with a girl with braids, but then appeared to be walking close to him. Approaching, he said:
"Poor man, you don’t believe in me at all. Two times I came for the sake of your mother, who cries out entreating me for you, and once for you. I won’t come to you another time. For the third and final time. Believe me and tomorrow you will be well.”
And turning towards the little girl:" Rinoula [diminutive form of the Greek name Eirini, or Irene], bring me my bag" (like the ones used by doctors)."
He pulled out a white doctor’s coat, and removing his purple vestments, he put it on. "Dimitrakis, tomorrow you will be well, if you only believe. Now I am leaving, because they need me in London. Come, Rinoula the boy will be well, and his leg and the lungs are strong."
The sick man called his mother, and related to her the story, and she crossed herself and was crying from emotion.
In the morning they came to run an important test, but found on the scan that the clots had disappeared from the lungs and his veins. They only placed a filter in the lower segment. In four days he was discharged. Mr. Spyrou said to his mother: "Your family must have some Saint or someone is lucky." Mr. Philipou said to his brother: "As a scientist I cannot explain it. He has someone up there." His parents came and performed a Paraklesis at our Monastery [Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Goumenissa]. Later they brought the young man himself. He recognized St. Raphael immediately on the large icon stand from his three appearances , however he had seen him wearing the purple mantya robe of an Abbott, illuminating his chest."
Note: the man who was healed can be seen telling the story himself on video (in Greek) here: http://www.imgap.gr/file1/Vakal.wmv.
For more information on Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, see: http://fr-d-serfes.org/writtings/straphael.htm, http://orthodoxchristian.info/pages/sts_rni.htm, http://goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=1045&PCode=1PT&D=T&date=4/21/2009.
Apolytikon of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene
Having contended on Lesvos for the sake of Christ God, you have sanctified the island since the discovery of your sacred relics, O blessed ones; for what reason we honour you, O God-bearing Raphael, together with Nicholas and virgin Irene, as our divine protectors and intercessors with the Lord.
Let all of us honour as our protectors and miracle-workers the holy Martyrs who manifestly contended for Christ. Whose relics were hidden under the earth for many years, and who have manifested themselves to us in wondrous ways, Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, as well as those who contended with them in a godly-minded manner.
Let us honour with hymns the Hosiomartyrs of Christ, divine Raphael and venerable Nicholas, together with Irene, the guardians of Lesvos, for helping all.