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Testimonies and Experiences
Elder Porphyrios – Prophet of our time
In the second part of my "testimony" about the late Elder Porphyrios, we must explain that apart from the above, we collected quite a bit of further information, looking to publish them in our quarterly magazine Polytekne Oikogeneia. (We made a simple reference, in edition no.53 and 55, promising a more complete and detailed account in no. 56, December 1992 edition, in the obituary column.) This was because Elder Porphyrios really was the child of a large family, while as a spiritual father he was the father of a "superlarge" family of thousands of spiritual children!
Of course, the investigation and collection of material for information about child development and the family, as well as about issues of childbearing and abortion, etc., is for a "specialist" magazine on the subject of the Family and family development. However, since other information about Elder Porphyrios was discovered during our inquiry, unknown and different from what had already been published, we recorded it all as accurately as possible. The substantial material remaining will be given to the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration for future use.
Perhaps we should at this point anticipate possible objections from many about the great number of similar incidents (revelations, healings, etc.), while the presentation of just a few examples would better serve our purpose in a book about Elder Porphyrios. God really had given him such great gifts, the gifts of discernment, of foresight-prophecy and of healing, to such a degree that human denial can only be from ignorance or from lack of faith. The phenomenon of "Elder Porphyrios, Prophet of Our Time," was generally known, even during his lifetime, by thousands of people of all social classes, from patriarchs, archbishops and university lecturers to the most simple and illiterate people (but truly faithful and earnest).
The representative examples of information about Elder Porphyrios are sufficient witness to and proof of his holiness and his divine spiritual gifts. However, this should not rule out the search for, and collection of, all the relative information from his thousands of spiritual children throughout Greece and in all the world could give.
Every incident of divine grace moving through a grace-filled person like Elder Porphyrios is a personal event. It will remain personal and unique regardless of the fact that it might be the same or similar to other incidents, since all have the same divine spiritual source, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit....one and the same spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."(1 Cor. 12:4,11)
Equally, and maybe more so, we would like to stress here the need for the investigation and collection of material to be directed towards the Elder Porphyrios' "Teachings"; specific advice, suggestions and solutions. Usually, in similar investigations, the reports of "revelations" and miracles can be found in great number, since they are sensational and attract people's curiosity. For this reason the teachings are usually not emphasized or kept silent about, despite the fact that numerically they are greater.
Therefore, as a result of our "special" investigation and collection of information about Elder Porphyrios, we can now insert this addition to our previous "testimony" in the first half. This is without any review or criticism from me, except where it was occasionally necessary, since this present book is probably full of introductory and concluding thoughts and critiques, and also holds within its pages some fifty collective or personal testimonies.
The testimony of P.P.
We begin with the testimony of P.P., because, as we shall see, he had put to the Elder the question asked by many; the one regarding his gifts. The Elder had a clear conscience and did not avoid answering similar questions. This question, put in the words of a well-known proverb, was not a personal one. He wanted to know Elder Porphyrios' answer so that he could answer the questions of friends and acquaintances with clarity.
a. "Elder, what answer do you give to those who ask about the gifts which God gave you and seek some kind of explanation? Because others ask us and put forward the well-known proverb, "after Christ nobody is prophet."
Instead of giving a straight answer, Elder Porphyrios directed the questioner to the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book, Wisdom of Solomon* , to the twenty-seventh verse, which says the following about the grace and energy of the Holy Spirit, "...in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets." In fact, verses 15-27 are especially enlightening on this interesting subject of the Holy Spirit acting through certain grace-filled people. The verses say the following:
"May God grant me to speak with judgment and have thoughts worthy of what I have received, for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. For both e and our words are in his hands, as are all understanding and skill in crafts. For it is He who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements; the beginning, the end and the middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the nature of animals and the tempers of wild beasts, the power of spirits and the reasoning of men, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots; I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, for wisdom the fashioner of all things taught me."
'There is in her a spirit that is intelligent holy, unique, manifold, subtle, agile, clear, immaculate, distinct, invulnerable, devoted to goodness, keen, irrisistable, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, carefree, all-powerful overseeing all and passing through spirits that are altogether intelligent, pure, and subtle. For wisdom is more mobile than any motion, she pervades and passes through all things by her pureness. For she is a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God and an image of his goodness. Although she is one she can do all things, and whilst remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of Gods and prophets."
* In most English versions, which are not Orthodox, but Protestant, it can be found in the so-called "Apocrypha"
b. P.P. also guided the late A.G. to Elder Porphyrios, who confessed to the Elder. The first time she met him, she visited him for two hours and when she left, she not only kissed his hand but knelt down and kissed his feet.
When A.G. was suffering from cancer and wanted to have surgery, Elder Porphyrios advised her not to be operated on, without her paying any special attention to his advice. However, during the operation she was in danger and her husband phoned Elder Porphyrios from London. He was afraid that she might not wake up from the operation. Elder Porphyrios assured him that she would wake up and that she wouldn't come to any harm from cancer. But he added, "She'll suffer from another illness." She later died, from heart trouble.
c. Once a group of rebels on motorbikes went to Oropos. They left their bikes outside the Convent, at a distance and in a place where they could not be seen. They approached the Elder Porphyrios' cell and went straight in, without waiting their turn in line. One of them turned to the Elder and said, "Tell us something, pappouli**. "What shall I tell you, Dimitri? That your motorbike is the make such-and-such?" The revelation of Dimitri's name and the make of his motorbike meant that he and his friends trusted the Elder and started to visit him, benefiting from his presence and advice. In fact, the Elder said to P.P. about those "rebels": "Those boys are the purest and most innocent souls that visit here."
**an affectionate term for ‘grandfather’
d. Finally, through P.P. we got to know a friend of his, an Athens lawyer who knew Elder Porphyrios and had frequent contact with him over ten years. When we sought his own testimony, he was kind enough to present it to us in letter form on the 4th of November 1992. Here he summarizes his experience as follows: "In the ten years that I knew him, I had the absolute certainty that whatever I did or whatever I even thought, my elder knew about it. I have the same feeling now after his death."
He continues his letter, "At our first meeting, although the other visitors had simply received his blessing and left, he kept me by him for about three-quarters of an hour. He asked me all kinds of questions about my work and my life in general. Three things shall always remain unforgettable about that meeting. First is the feeling of well-being and unknown joy that I felt from the moment I found myself near him. I had felt this joy and lightness only one other time in my life, when I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Second, was that he recalled my childhood for me, events which I had forgotten altogether. Finally, when I kissed his hand to leave, he grabbed both of my hands, kissed them and said he was pleased to have met me and that our meeting was the will of God.
I always felt the same great internal spiritual delight in the meetings and long conversations I had with him until his death. I was also completely convinced that he had divine grace and that he could see me and was informed about everything to do with me, wherever I could be found in the world.
From the many proofs of this I will just mention one example:
I visited him about seven years ago at the end of January in his cell and said, "Elder, I'm sorry that I didn't come during the holidays and give you my best wishes. I was in London with a serious court case." He thought for a while then said, "Doesn't the insurance company pay for the ship that sank?" That was, in fact, the whole subject of the case in London. I had told him nothing about it beforehand.
In another meeting with him, he asked me about a female client of mine who I had introduced to him previously. "Did you finally find the safe?" he said. I was surprised and said, "Did she visit you or phone you?" He answered, "Why? Did she have to tell me herself? Don't you know, you blessed fellow, that I can see you whenever I want, even if you are at the ends of the earth, I see what you're doing."
One final thing: It was February or March of 1988, it was half past one in the morning, I was in my study at home. I had spread out a lot of papers before me. I was examining a really serious and painful personal matter. The telephone rang and it was Elder Porphyrios, "Sorry for phoning so late," he said "but I can see that you're drowning in paperwork, and are very upset."
"My dear Elder," I answered, "thank you for calling, but how can I not be upset, when apart from financial problems my own moral standing is in danger?"
He said "Calm down and don't worry, otherwise you'll ruin your health. You'll be troubled by all the paperwork that you've got but in the end everything will be all right."
In fact the judicial part of this painful adventure came to an end only in February 1992, after being freed from all accusations at all levels of justice.
I composed this letter at the request of his spiritual child and my friend P.P., with the hope that Elder Porphyrios will forgive me for not holding to his lifelong wish for us not to talk about him."
Here, in the hope that we don't offend the letter writer's wishes, we must add that Elder Porphyrios had also told him the outcome of his illness and the resultant operation.
Testimony of Fr. George Hiotakis
(from Elder Porphyrios' visit to Sphakia)
Elder Porphyrios visited Crete for the first time during Great Lent 1977. He was a guest in Hania of his spiritual child, the late Fr. Eleftherios Kapsomenos. Here in the home of Fr. Eleftherios, he met the priest of Sphakia, Fr.George Hiotakis, who is the father of a very large family of twelve children. He also managed to get Elder Porphyrios' promise to visit Sphakia. We won't refer here to this, his first visit to Hania1, but to his visit to Sphakia. His 'secrecy' was assured and he visited for a fortnight. So Elder Porphyrios went alone from Hania airport to the house of Fr. George Hiotakis' brother in Hania town. He had a revelation of its whereabouts. He was collected from there by Fr. George and taken to Sphakia, where he stayed in Fr. George's house in the village of Nomikiana, and a further eleven days in the cell of a deserted neighboring monastery. There he associated almost exclusively with priests from Sphakia. The days that they had near him were unique and revelatory. Afterwards Fr. George kept in contact with Elder Porphyrios, visiting and phoning him often. We will mention, somewhat briefly, only those things Fr. George actually told us from that important visit.
On the way to Sphakia from Hania, in the village of Imvros, to the right of the road, is a church dedicated to Saints Helen and Constantine. At this point Elder Porphyrios suddenly turned left, as if he were searching for something. Then, Fr. George realized that he was searching for the church. "Elder, it's on the right." Then the Elder said, "Hmm how come I'm looking for it towards the left, then." Fr. George,
The impressions from this visit can be found on pages 227-241
George, realizing what Elder Porphyrios meant, explained, "In fact, Elder, before we built it on the right-hand side of the road, we were looking for a place on the left because, according to living local tradition, there once was a church there of the same name." The Elder looked for it on the left because he 'saw' with his mystical vision from the Holy Spirit, even though all physical evidence was wiped away by time.
In Sphakia there is a beautiful area, which is the accessible to the southern shore of Crete, the area of Frankokastello. This area, especially, captured Elder Porphyrios' attention, because, as he revealed, "the place was sacred, as it was a place where ascetics had lived." This fact was unknown to the priests of Sphakia and nobody had spoken to him about the history of the place, which he noetically 'saw' through the Holy Spirit. In fact, when the priests of Sphakia did some research into the matter they learnt that once there were ascetics' cells there. The Elder also suggested that the location was suitable for the foundation of a "Conference Center for Youth" for world-wide use.
In the same area, beyond Frankokastello, in the village of St. Nectarios, Elder Porphyrios had another revelation about some distant village. They made a stop at the house of a relative of Fr. George. While the lady of the house made coffee, Elder Porphyrios suddenly turned towards the wall and started counting with the fingers of his right hand saying, "St. John, St. George, the Master Christ, St. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, St. Nicholas." Then Fr. George asked him, "Elder, what are you counting on the wall?"
"My child," answered the Elder, "I'm counting the churches in the other village." In the direction which the wall faced there really was another village, at least forty kilometers distance away. The Elder had never visited it, and Fr. George had never told the Elder about it or its churches, but it was these that he 'saw' and named correctly.
On the way to Father George's parish in Hagia Roumeli, Elder Porphyrios pointed towards the distant sea¬shore and said, "A river flows there and a church also exists." The church and river actually were in that place but they could not be seen and nobody had told the Elder about it.
In the Church of the Holy Trinity, in Hagia Roumeli, Elder Porphyrios noticed an icon of the Holy Trinity and said to Father George, "Look after that icon, otherwise it will be stolen. There is no other icon like it. And do you know what's so special about it?" Father George didn't know. Then, Elder Porphyrios pointed it out to him, "Do you see? The Father and the Son are pictured as being the same age!" After Elder Porphyrios had left Fr. George called together the Parish Council and recommended that the holy icon should be kept somewhere safe. However, the chairman objected and said, "If you move the icon from its place, then you must also leave." So the icon stayed where it was. A year later however, it was stolen and it has not been found to this day.
Again, in Hagia Roumeli, as Elder Porphyrios was chatting with Father George, the Elder asked him to retire so that he might be allowed to pray. Father George departed, but became tired and fell asleep there in the place where he had gone to rest. He was soon awakened by the sudden clatter of feet from a large group of touring European Scouts who were passing nearby. As he woke up, he saw the Elder standing by the beach and blessing the young people who were passing by. Once they had passed, he turned to Father George and said, "Do you know what good children they are, Father George? But they are like 'sheep without a shepherd.'"
Finally, Elder Porphyrios again 'explored and
visited' Hagia Roumeli. This time from Athens, while talking with his
visitor Father George in the house in Nea Ionia where they met. They had
stumbled upon many obstacles when trying to build the proposed "Youth
Conference Center" in the area of Frankokastello. Therefore, Father
George suggested that they look for a similar place in Hagia Roumeli.
"Where, Father George? East or West?" Father George replied, "To the
"Ah, hold on," continued the Elder, "I can see that place. It has lots of water and two churches. It also has a cemetery and a church on top of the hill." They were exactly as he 'saw' and described them. However, as Father George confessed, he 'saw' them from Athens, without ever having seen or visited them with Father George during his stay in Sphakia.
One afternoon when Elder Porphyrios was talking with
the priests of Sphakia he said to them, "Let's stop for a moment because
I want to pray together with my fellow ascetics in the Balkans." Another
time, again when they were talking, he cried out, "Oh, tonight I forgot
the mutual prayer." meaning his mutual prayer with his fellow ascetics
in the Balkans. From similar references to other spiritual children we
know that he meant, Fr. Justin Popovich (from Serbia), Elder Sophrony
(from Russia) at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex,
England, certain elders from Mt. Athos and the hieromonks and ascetics
of Mt. Sinai.
While walking through the courtyard of the Church of the Panagia, in the village of Loutro, Father George, within himself, marveled at how the Elder thought and prayed. Elder Porphyrios suddenly turned towards him and said, "Mystical prayer is not taught." He had read his thoughts.
The Testimony of Th.A., Theologian
In 1982 Th.A. directed a friend of his to Elder Porphyrios. He was forty years old and 'mixed up,' to use the Elder's expression, with Hinduism and different gurus. He had even traveled to India. Th.A. had introduced him to the Elder simply as a friend who was 'mixed-up' with Hinduism and he wanted the Elder to help him. He had not told the Elder his name or anything else about him, yet Elder Porphyrios called this 'mixed-up' man by his name and asked him how his wife and two children were.
It was this revelation from the Elder that truly shook him. He made an honest confession and returned to Orthodoxy with sincerity.
When he had left Elder Porphyrios he said to Th.A, "I really am married with two children, but I've never told you. I had indeed abandoned them and the Elder knew it!"
Other people, most of them young, 'mixed-up' with
Eastern religions and other cults sought refuge and help in Elder
Porphyrios. They themselves confessed that after his advice and blessing
(with the sign of the cross) they were healed, not only from their
spiritual illness, but from bodily illnesses too. Before that many of
them had turned to psychiatrists without gaining any therapy or relief,
something which they eventually found with Elder Porphyrios.
In 1989-90 Th.A. visited the states of Virginia and North Carolina in America, where he gave religious talks. In the audience was a Greek woman, who was about to visit Greece. She asked him to recommend a spiritual father to her. Th.A. told her about Elder Porphyrios. She later met him and was greatly enriched.
When the lady returned to the States and saw Th.A. she naturally said that she had met Elder Porphyrios and thanked him for recommending him. Amongst other things, she was greatly impressed by the fact that he described her home in America, her shop and her children in detail. He also told her that one of her children had a distinguishing mark on his body. At the time she didn't find it very important and said nothing to the Elder. With respect and admiration, she told her son, that out of all the things Elder Porphyrios had said and revealed to her, he had only made one mistake; he had said that her son had a mark on his body. Her son was shaken and confessed that he really did have that mark on his body. He had never told his mother about it; because of his age she hadn't seen him naked since his childhood when this mark, (probably a mole) appeared.
Until then this particular young man was indifferent towards his faith; afterwards, because of this incident, his faith warmed and he became active within the Church.
Testimony of I.D., retired policeman
During the summer of 1989, I visited Elder Porphyrios
and asked him to pray especially for a relative of his who was ill. The
Elder, however told him, "He won't become well." and the relative did
not become well. Then I begged the Elder, saying, "Holy Elder, say a 'kyrie
eleison,' God is great." Then the Elder blessed him with his right hand
and said, "Yes, my child, God is great!"
A year later, Ivisited the Elder again and he planned to beg him with the warmest faith and with humility, even on his knees. When his turn came, he approached the Elder, with this plan in mind. He kissed his right hand without saying anything. Before he even managed to kneel down Elder Porphyrios said to him, "Kneel, kneel. What's happening with your relative X?
"Holy Elder that's why I've come."
"Well, he is so-so" said the Elder, and then went on to describe the case exactly. I then asked him, "Now what happens?"
"Pray, pray!" replied Elder Porphyrios.
Testimony of A.T., doctor, pathologist, from Xanthi
The testimony of AT. was given in his letter dated 28th July 1992. It reads as follows:
"...We learnt about Fr. Porphyrios from the then layman and university assistant and now priest and professor of Physics at the University of Thrace, Fr. George Anagnostopoulos. It was 1980, and on the 4th October 1980 we visited the holy Elder in his humble brick cell at Oropos. My wife and I visited him for forty-five minutes. We were impressed by the fact that before we could mention some personal problem of ours, he referred to events involving different (anonymous) Christians. Our problems were the same as these incidents and through them we found the answers and solutions that we were looking for.
When we got up to leave, the Elder, with a cheerful, holy, caring, and fatherly smile took hold of my wife's hand exactly in the spot where it ached. We had not told him about it nor had we even thought about telling him about it as we were treating it medically with drugs. Her condition was called tenosynovitis and she had cortisone injections, and took strong anti-inflammatory pills. When Elder Porphyrios took her hand, she felt warmth throughout her body and started to feel queasy. This feeling calmed down immediately afterwards, and the pain left suddenly. Then my wife, moved to tears, said to him, "Father, you know about that too?" Naturally, after that day she threw away the medicine and no longer went to the orthopaedic doctor.
We thank our Holy God, who granted us god-bearing Fathers in our lifetime. We thank Fr. George, who introduced us to Father Porphyrios. We thank Elder Porphyrios who, with paternal affection, when leaving the world promised us, "I will pray for you and your children." May we have his blessing.
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Article published in English on: 6-2-2009.
Last Update: 6-2-2009.