Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Translation of the Relics of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis

The Translation of the Relics of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis - Commemorated on September 3rd (http://agiooros.org/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=626)

Some years [after the blessed repose of St. Nektarios on the evening of November 8th 1920], as is the custom in Greece, his grave was opened to take the relics out. When they opened the grave [on September 2nd 1953], what should they see but that the Saint was whole [i.e. incorrupt] and fragrant. Not even his vestments had changed in any way. It was just as if he had fallen asleep and been buried that very day. They had not told the people of Aegina, because he had already worked many miracles and become very beloved, and a very large crowd would have gathered -- even from Athens and other places where he was known -- for the opening of his grave. So, early in the morning, as soon as they were finished with the Divine Liturgy, as it was dawning they went and began to open the grave. At the same time there was a taxi coming by on the road below the convent. Inside was a woman who had been to some resort place. She was not a woman of good repute, but of ill repute and many sins. As soon as they approached the Holy Trinity Convent, there was such a fragrance in the air that she told the driver, "Stop. What is that fragrance?" So he stopped and looked around. "Oh," he replied, "here is the convent of the Holy Nectarios. What else could such a fragrance be but that they are opening his grave today, and the fragrance is coming from the grave. For many times a fragrance came from his body before they buried him. And even from the grave it comes sometimes." Immediately she opened the door of the taxi and ran to go and see. She went up to the convent at the moment that they had opened the coffin and found the relics whole. She was very moved by this and by the fragrance, especially. She began to weep and publicly confess her sins. Thus she was corrected and became a prudent and Christian woman in her way of life. At that time they telegraphed to Athens to the Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos, and he went to the island to see the relics for himself. After examining the relics, he irreverently counseled the nuns to leave the relics out in the sun and air for two or three days and then rebury him so that he would dissolve...The nuns, fearing the censure of the archbishop and also being simple, did as they were told. For two days they put him outside in the sun and air and then reburied him. But within a month or two they opened the grave a second time and took out the relics which were still whole and put them in a marble sarcophagus.

In 1934, fourteen years after the repose of the Saint, a doctor was coming from one of the villages on horseback and was caught in a very heavy rain in the area of the convent. He got down from his horse and went and stood under a tree. It was raining so hard that he saw it would not let up for a long time. Therefore, he decided that as there was nowhere else nearby, he might as well go to the convent. He had known holy Father Nectarios while he was living, but being a man who did not believe much in such things, he did not reverence the Father much. So he went and knocked at the convent and the nuns opened and put him up for the night. It was evening, and they would not keep any man inside the convent, even the priest of the convent, as it is forbidden by the canons, but they had a little place outside for guests. But as the gates of the convent had not yet closed, he wanted to investigate what he had heard about miracles and incorrupt relics now that he had come to the convent. So he went while it was still light to where the sarcophagus was outside of the church. He began to pull off the heavy marble slab which was on top, as it was not fastened in any manner. He pulled it down to the waist of the Saint. At that very moment a nun happened to come by, and she began to cry out, "What are you doing there? What are you doing, opening our Elder's grave?" And he replied, "I just wanted to take a look." "But you did not have permission," she insisted and began making a commotion. But in the meantime anyway, he investigated the relics. [Later he said, "I was very amazed to see that it was the Father Nectarios that we all knew. And that he could still be recognized from his face and expression. Even his beard was intact; I pulled at some of his beard, but it would not come out. I touched his hand and saw that it was skin. It had remained so well on the bones (there was not much flesh) and had not shriveled up. He could be recognized by anyone who had known him when he was alive."] Then they closed the marble sarcophagus right away.

By the will of God, years later the relics of the Saint dissolved***, and what we have now are his Holy bones. They have since been encased in the Saint’s mitre in Aegina. The top opened so one can kiss the crown of his head. The other parts of his relics, which have much fragrance, are located in a silver box.

[***Note: The following story illustrates why God permitted the dissolution of the Saint's incorrupt Relic:
"There was a rich old lady who had met Nektarios at the monastery and he was her confessor several times. She was now living in Piraeus alone, and cried both day and night over the fact that Nektarios' body had dissolved. She hoped that Nektarios' body would be eternally intact, like the relic of Saint Dionysios on her native island of Zakynthos. She thought that this would be a tribute to Orthodoxy. One night, the old woman saw Nektarios alive at her bedside. He smiled lovingly and sweetly at her. "Why are you so sad?" he asked her. "It was I who prayed to God to allow the decomposition of my body. I did this for all the pious Christians, for whose consolation the relics will now be able to be sent around Greece and around the world." The old woman awoke a bit shaken, but was nevertheless filled with gratitude at seeing her beloved confessor alive and speaking to her."
(from The Saint of our Century by Chondropoulos)]
He endured a life of calumnies, persecutions and false accusations. But God has glorified him, and miracles have abounded since his departure for those who approach his relics with faith or who rely on his powerful intercession. His body remained incorrupt for more that twenty years, distilling a delicate, heavenly scent, and then returned to the earth in the usual way. His relics were strongly redolent with the same perfume at the time of their translation in June 1953. This perfume has continued ever since to rejoice the faithful who come to venerate his precious relics with the assurance that Saint Nectarios has been received by God into the abode of the righteous. His veneration was formally recognized in 1961. The list of his miracles grows longer every day, and his shrine at Aegina has become a most popular place of pilgrimage in Greece.

(http://www.stnectarioschurch.org/StNectarios/stnectarios-bios_finalyears_english.htm)

Icon of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, with scenes from his life; from the Saint's Monastery in Aegina (http://img.pathfinder.gr/clubs/images/39/39739/46.jpg)

Doxastikon of the Stichera in the Plagal of the Second Tone (Amateur translations below)
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Today, as the lily of the field***, according to the divine word, your sacred bones shone from the tomb, O wonder-bearing father Nektarios. And they pour forth the fragrance from your graces, making glad the spiritual senses of the faithful, and driving away the stench of the passions. For by the grace of the Spirit, working through these, perform awesome things. For they are shown a divine hospital, and mercy seat for souls, and refuge of those in turmoil. Therefore at their uncovering, we praise and faithfully cry out to you: O most-fervent Healer of Christ, and righteous Hierarch, ceaselessly intercede, that those who bless you may be saved.

***"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matthew 6:28-29

Apolytikion in the First Tone
As we celebrate the uncovering of your Relics from your holy tomb, O Hierarch Nektarios, we are granted sanctification of bodies and souls and healing of all kinds of passions, for those who approach with reverance, and who cry out to your grace: glory to Him Who glorified you radiantly, glory to Him who sanctified you, glory to Him Who grants to us through you, healings for all.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
As we praise the uncovering of your sacred Relics from the tomb, O wonderworker Nektarios, in pious manner we cry to you: hail, you who were in all things equal to the Fathers.

Oikos
Filled with fragrance as the field, O Nektarios, were your holy Relics, as that with which formerly Isaac blessed Jacob***. You were wholly sanctified by your virtuous life of holiness, and were shown a chosen vessel, and equal to the former Saints and a communicant with them. For also the treasury of your holy Relics, as an ark of holiness is presented to all, by the illumination of the All-Holy Spirit, sanctifying those who approach, and healing all forms of illnesses, and granting renewal of repentance to souls fallen in sin. As we celebrate the sacred uncovering, we piously proclaim your wonders, and in pious manner we cry out to you: hail, you who were in all things equal to the Fathers.

***"“See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!" Genesis 27:27

Synaxarion
On the third of this month (September), we celebrate the uncovering of the precious Relics of our father among the Saints, Nektarios Bishop of Pentapolis the Wonderworker, which occurred in the year of salvation 1953.

Verses
From the earth your Relics appeared, O Father,
Revealing to all the hidden grace.
On the third, the bones of Nektarios were revealed.

Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
O adornment of Archpriests, radiant with virtues in our days, you were shown forth, O hierarch Nektarios. Therefore the Church of Christ, taking refuge in your glory, as formerly Israel did with the body of Joseph***, the treasury of your Relics is processed with righteous honors, and is piously embraced. And those who receive the fruits of grace from them cry out to you, O Saint: as one who has boldness towards the Lord, ceaselessly intercede that we may keep the good confession spotlessly, and that our souls may be saved.

***"And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you." (Exodus 13:19)

Taken from the full service for the Uncovering of the Relics of St. Nektarios in Greek (written by Fr. Gerasimos), available here: http://analogion.gr/glt/texts/Sep/03b.uni.htm.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

2 comments:

Athanasios Adam said...

At the phrase "When they opened the grave [on September 2nd 1953]," the date shoulf be correvcted to (as I remember by heart) in 1923.

Agioi_Anargyroi said...

Actually, several different sources I have come across all mention September 2nd 1953 as the date of the uncovering of the holy relics of St. Nektarios.