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Sunday, November 21, 2010

St. Nektarios

(icon taken from:http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/ag-nektarios-agiografeio-monis-vatopaidiou1.jpg)

I am moved to write about St. Nektarios of Aegina because, a week ago, while in Aleppo, Syria, we venerated a relic of his in a women's monastery temporarily housed on the grounds of the Cathedral of Elias the Prophet.  Seeing his relic in Aleppo was as completely unexpected as the first time we heard of him during a trip to Greece.

While cruising the Greek Islands some years ago, Mr. Wonderful and I learned about the Beaufort Scale.  Essentially, when the reading on the Beaufort Scale gets high enough, you are advised not to leave port.  But even with the boat tied to the dock, the things can be rough and bouncy.  After night of rain, wind, waves and unease, we were greeted by a clear sparkling day and a complete change of destination.  Our new course took us to Aegina and to the Holy Trinity Convent.

Before his death, St. Nektarios lived as a monk at the Holy Trinity Convent on Aegina.  Now one can visit the Convent and see the small room where he lived and the book-filled study next to it.  His white marble tomb is also on the grounds of the Convent.  As with many monastic sights, while visitors are welcome proper dress is a must. Knowing that tourists are often unprepared, the nuns provide scarves and skirts for women and long trousers for men.  

November 9 [October 27 on the Julian Calendar] is the feast day of St. Nektarios (1846-1920).  He was a simple man of deep intellect and piety.  He became a bishop and after his death has become known as a healer.  He is also a composer of a beautiful non-litugical hymn called Agni Parthene [Virgin Pure, Unwedded Bride]. I have now heard it sung (to the same melody) in Greek, Serbian, Russian and Arabic.  Whatever the language, the hymn is hauntingly beautiful.

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