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PART 2: Saint Paisios and the homosexual man | Mount Athos | how Stamatis died

Join us for a profound testimony as Fr. Evangelos Papanikolaou recounts the remarkable meeting between St. Paisios and Stamatis (a homosexual man), a moment of divine grace and compassion. As a direct witness to this encounter, Fr. Evangelos, formerly a novice on Mount Athos and now a medical doctor and priest in Greece and in the Greek Orthodox Mission in Cameroon, shares the transformative impact of this event. Discover the power of love and acceptance in the Orthodox faith. Don’t miss this inspiring story of faith, forgiveness, and the boundless mercy of God. Subscribe now to witness the beauty of Orthodox Christianity unfold before your eyes.

Homily titled “Mount Athos as I Experienced It” , School for Parents — Open University of Katerini, Greece December 18th, 2023
Watch the full homily here (in Greek): https://youtu.be/b2lnEsD5i-k

Fr. Evangelos Papanikolaou:

This time, I will tell the whole story because I am not afraid of the sin of the Christians anymore. We are the worst. We have a serious problem. We invite people to come to Church, and when they do come, we are unprepared to receive them. Enough. I will illustrate it with what I am going to recount now.

As we went there [this is a segment of a larger homily], there was a very handsome young man, combining Greek and German [physical] traits. Tall, with a beautiful beard, and he was wearing saddle dress shoes in Mt. Athos in the wintertime. He had white ankle socks. White ankle socks in Mt. Athos … [Imagine] the mockery he got. He had dress pants … not short, long ones. He had a dress shirt and [a scarf] for the wind. Just these. The man was shivering. It was snowing [at the time]. The poor one didn’t know what Mt. Athos is like.

He got on the bus, and the bus driver said, “End of the line,” and dropped him off. He took the boat [that goes to Mt. Athos from Ouranoupoli] and the bus dropped him off in Iviron Monastery. He didn’t even stop in Karyes [capital of Mt. Athos] to receive his permit [«Διαμονητήριο»]. Right away at Iviron monastery, “end of line,” the man got off the bus. He entered the first monastery he came to, which is Panagia Portaitissa.

He approached us. I was with two other men who were speaking in French, and you know how French sounds—I couldn’t understand anything they were saying, and I was cold, so I was hoping they would stop talking so we could leave. This kid starting walking around us. We people of the Church when three of us are standing in a closed circle like that, must open the circle so that somebody else can fit, too. Don’t be afraid of the other [man]. Let us not be afraid of the other [man], whoever he may be. He might be your future killer. It’s God’s business, not yours. Just open up. So we opened and told him, “Join us.”

[speaks to the crowd]: “Get her a glass of water.” “Sorry, my good lady, now everybody knows who coughed.” [gives his blessing by making the sign of the Cross]

The guy says, “Can I join you?” We say, “Yes.” I’m not faking characters, you see my [true] character. I ask him, “Hey, where have you come from? “You don’t have any warm clothing; you don’t have the [right] shoes,” “you don’t have [right] socks, you don’t have warm pants.” “You don’t have anything. You’ll freeze to death…” “Come into my room,” I said. I always had [extra clothes] — —I wasn’t fat [at the time]. Now I’m fat. I was okay [back then]. — “I’ll give you extra thick thermal long underwear’ for you to wear, not to get cold,” since my pants wouldn’t fit him. “I will give you woolen socks.” We took off his shoes, we gave him socks. The man was thinking, “Who are these people? Why are they acting like that?”

I am asking him, “Where have they sent you to sleep?” “Such and such room.” “Nah, you can’t sleep with 40 men with smelly feet, farting, snoring. “Come with me. It’s four of us, and since I am a doctor, they gave me [a good room].” You need to have a middleman there as well. Korompilis [person sitting next to him] goes to Vatopedi Monastery and the abbot says, “Give him the best room.” The one next to Charles’ [that is, King Charles III]. They don’t give him Charles’ room. They give him the one right next to it, because if Charles finds out that somebody else slept in his room, he will be sad when he visits. Is [the room] good? Excellent. I never went to those [places]. I was always on foot. The “lumpen proletariat,” exactly! They are all saints [the monks of Mt. Athos]. I fall on the ground and kiss their feet as soon as I see them. Just the fact that they left all [worldly] comforts and stay [permanently] in a place and devote themselves to prayer… Excuse me, but it’s really difficult. And if they fail a bit, it’s okay, Panagia [the Virgin Mary] will help them in their fight, and they will succeed. This is our salvation.

But in a marriage, again, I kiss the feet of the women and men who remain faithful to their marriage, and if they cheat, it’s okay, let them go back. I kiss their feet again. What should we do? What would Christ do? What would [Saint] Constantine the Great do? He would take a cloth to cover you. That’s our job. We cover and help everyone. Christ is mercy. [Whereas] the angels are justice. Men “are” mercy. God has justice on the angels. On men, He just shows mercy. Because if God applies the justice of the angels to men, men are lost. Fr. [Saint] Ephraim Katounakiotis said, “The angels are justice. The men are mercy.” The angels want justice. They like justice; justice is enough for them. Whereas, if God’s justice were applied to men, they would go to hell. With the mercy of the justice of God, there is a hope for salvation. The Holy [Orthodox] Church that God left in the word will supplement the mercy. The Church “will have accomplished its mission” at the end of the world. Church supplements the work of God. The forty-day Liturgy that you do here—do you know how many deceased are comforted? Just for this one, the contribution of the Orthodox Church is great. Anyway, we ask him, “What’s your name, pal?” He says, “Stamatis.” “Stamatis, how come you visited Mt. Athos ‘almost naked’?”

“What do you think Mt. Athos is—the Kolonaki of Athens?”

He says, “Dear Vangelis, a friend of mine, died a week ago.

“I came here because they told me that if I come here, my friend will go to heaven.”

“How come? Who said this?” I ask.

“I was hanging out with some people and they told me,”

“‘If one is very sinful, the holy men there pray for him and they will get him to heaven.’”

I realized [what was going on] immediately—

And you went through all the trouble to come here and pray for your friend?

“My friend was sick … and he died … and he didn’t lead a good life …”

“I too don’t lead a good life, but I don’t know what to do about it.”

“I have come here to visit some Fr. Paisios [now St. Paisios].”

“Please don’t tell me. Please don’t tell me,” I thought to myself.

“To have to go back and climb uphill through the cold to get you to St. Paisios …”

“Don’t say that.”

He says, “Do you know how I can go to St. Paisios…?”

“He said it …”

I am thinking, “How will the poor one get there?”

“He got lost in Iviron Monastery, let alone [going to St. Paisios’ cell.]”

The other guy says, “We will get you there.”

“Who told you to speak?”

“I will get you there tomorrow,” I said.

Can you object?

You might not answer the first [call].

God calls you and says, “Vangelis, [why] don’t you go to Cameroon?”

(translator’s note: Fr. Evangelos Papanikolaou is a missionary to Cameroon)

“Don’t you have someone else to ask?”

And you decide not to go.

On the second day you think, “Since Father told me to go to the field,”

“I’d better go to the field, for His sake.”

“Let me go there, for the sake of the love of the Father.”

We went to St. Paisios.

St. Paisios accepted us.

As soon as he sees me, he says, “What are you doing here again?”

I say, “Geronda, I brought this one.”

[St. Paisios]: “Come inside.”

“Are you German?”

He says, “My father is German and my mother is Greek.”

The Elder got it.

I hadn’t asked him where he was from.

In general, I don’t ask where one is from and how old he is.

Especially if it’s a woman, you are finished.

[someone from the crowd]: Weight too.

Weight is visible.

I can measure you with my eyes, “Extra, extra, extra, extra-large.”

Did I get it right? Bravo.

Pay attention now, my Christians.

One would think, “This man [supposedly] came here to speak for the miracles and the saints …”

I believe and admire the miracles of the saints.

My personal experiences can ascertain the sainthood of the saints more to me

than witnessing an [actual] miracle. Truly!

These are the things I experienced and I am so happy with these people [the saints].

They taught me how to live.

[St. Paisios]: “What’s your name, my child?”


“Elder, I have to talk to you in private.”

They went a bit far away and talked.

You were watching Stamatis who was a sad, “a darkened” man,

while he was speaking to St. Paisios,

little by little, Stamatis was getting the light of St. Paisios.

I don’t know how that was possible.

We were watching his face being cleansed, to shine, to become most beautiful,

his whole body was relaxing, Stamatis was becoming wonderful.

You ask for a miracle … what [do you think] was that?

Elder Paisios called me, “Come here.”

Elder Paisios called me, “Come here.” “Listen. I want you to do me a favor.” “Do you promise to commemorate a name for life?” “I do.” Was it possible for Elder Paisios to ask me something and for me to answer no to him?

He says, “You will be commemorating the name Michalis together with the names of the deceased.” “Fine, Elder.” We got Stamatis and left. Stamatis was shining. Prostrations in front of the [holy] icons… We went to Panagia Gorgoepikoos.

He had 5 packets of cigarettes with him. As soon as we went to Panagia Gorgoepikoos in the Holy Monastery of Dochiariou, he kissed [the holy icon of] Panagia and said, “I don’t have anything else to offer you.” And he left the 5 packets of cigarettes in front of [the holy icon of] Panagia. “Take them and I will never smoke again.” How can you stop smoking like that?

Meeting Elder Paisios one time is enough to cut smoking and other things… Not you, Korompilis… Mrs. Korompilis is here, right? She is smiling, great. Listen. [St. Paisios] told him to go to a spiritual father in Athens. He goes to the spiritual father to confess. The spiritual father says, “Stamatis you won’t receive the Holy Communion until the day you die” Stamatis says, “I went to the spiritual father and he told me not to commune until I die.”

“What kind of ‘a thug’ is that?” “I sent you to him because I thought of him as a holy man.” “What could you possibly have done that wouldn’t allow you to commune until you die?” “For God’s sake, what are you, a monster?” He says, “Let me tell you who I am…” “Okay,” I say. He says, “I am a homosexual.” I had heard this said in the army, too, I didn’t care much. “So what…?” I say. “I am not just a homosexual. I am also suffering from AIDS.”

Back then, [AIDS] was a rough issue. Really rough. We are talking about… 1989. It appeared in 1981… There was no cure yet. They were dying from leukemia etc… Oh, Mother of God. “Okay…” I say. “Haven’t I shocked you?” “Nuh, not yet.” I ask, “The one who died [Michalis]?” He was my partner; we were living together. My boyfriend. My lover. “Did you say these things to Elder Paisios…?” “Yes, I told these things to Elder Paisios.” “Is this why you were so dark?” “Yes, basically, I was dark because I thought that my boyfriend went to hell.” “[Inaudible] and that I will go to hell too and nothing can be done [about it].”

“[Inaudible] and that I will go to hell too and nothing can be done [about it].” “What did Elder Paisios say? How did he handle it?”

He says, “Do you want me to tell you what I said to Elder Paisios?”

“Please do.”

I said [to St. Paisios], “Elder, I had a boyfriend. He got sick with AIDS.”

“I hadn’t contracted AIDS.”

“[But] because he was sick with AIDS, I asked him to have relations with me so I can contract AIDS, too.”

And I did.

Had we used protection, I could have avoided it.

[But] I said, “Since the one I love has AIDS, I will also contract it.”

Do not think of these things as normal; they are abnormal.

I just want to tell you what Elder Paisios listened to and how he handled it.

Imagine [St. Paisios] standing up—thin as a sparrow—listening to these things.

Michalis then got leukemia. And after he got sick, they took him to St. Savvas [Hospital].

“While in St. Savvas, his family realized I was his boyfriend and forbade me to see him.

Thus, the man I loved was in bed and I couldn’t go see him.

I was sitting outside St. Savvas’ hospital, waiting there.

The more fever he had, the more my heart melted.

If he got from 65 kg to 62 kg. I would eat nothing to get down to 62 kg, too.

When he got from 62 kg to 55 kg. I ate absolutely nothing so I could get down to 55 kg.

St. Paisios said, “Really?”

[Stamatis]: Elder, can something be done for me and, at the same time, help this man [Michalis]?

[St. Paisios]: Pay attention. I will take care of praying for him and we will have other people praying [for him], too.

“[But] you will never commemorate him again. Never.”

“The Church will take care of this name.”

“As long as I live [I will pray for him] … and ask the one over there to come here.”

“You, come here.”

This is why [St. Paisios] told me, “Do you promise to pray for a [Michalis]?”

[Fr. Evangelos]: What else did he tell you?

[Stamatis]: He said, “Listen, my child.”

[St. Paisios]: Are you rich?

“I am.”

“Do you make [a lot of] money?”


“Listen. Can you go to Church every Sunday?”

“I can.”

“Can you go confess all these sins you told me to an [Orthodox] spiritual father?”

“I can.”

“Can you go find two sick people with AIDS in Athens and wash them in case they have nobody else [to take care of them] twice a week?”

“I can.”

“How much money do you make?”

—He was making a lot of money. He was a professor of German in Goethe.—

Who knows good German to pronounce [the word Goethe] right?

He was working there. He was making a lot of money.

A most handsome man. Just the clothes he was wearing, the trinkets, the gold…

I won’t tell you the story of how he ended up with this [spiritual] sickness.

I shouldn’t have called it “[spiritual] sickness”.

It will be on YouTube and they will say, “Write him down, to punish him…”

[man from crowd]: The new fascism.

Yes, political correctness.

We will talk as we should talk and as the Elder [St. Paisios] would speak.

[St. Paisios]: Out of the money you make, can you keep 1/3 for you, 1/3 to Church charity and [the last] 1/3 find people to give them the money.

“I can.” He says to him.

“Can you do 50 [prostrations] a day?”

“I can.”

“Can you learn how to paint icons?”

“I can.”

“Can you learn how to burn incense?”

“I can.”

“Since you can do [all] these things, do what you can and let God do what He can for you—to fight your passion [of homosexuality].”

Are you listening?

The man [Stamatis] left flying, peaceful, with joy.

He didn’t say that “what I do is the right thing.”

This is our sickness [i.e. unrepentance].

The man went to find consolation both for the one he loved and himself.

God is long-suffering and merciful.

And righteous, truly righteous and not based on human standards [of justice].

And righteous, truly righteous and not based on human standards [of justice].

The guy [Stamatis] tells me, “I know nothing. Not even where the door of the church is.”

“I’ve been eating sausages on Great and Holy Fridays, this and that…”

“What’s supposed to happen now?”

“As if I know…”

My mother got wind of it.

[Mother]: What’s your business with him?

“Mother of God, Despoina Theotokos.” [expresses indignation].

You couldn’t tell [he was homosexual], not at all, not at all.

If he didn’t say it himself, you couldn’t tell.

I got him to the spiritual father.

The spiritual father imposed this canon [of penance] on him. A really difficult one.

When I went to St. Paisios one other time, I told him so and so [about Stamatis’s penance].

[St. Paisios]: Not like that, not like that…

“Receive Holy Communion only before he dies. For God’s sake.”

“Get him somewhere else.”

I got him to Fr. Ieremias [also as Jeremiah] Fountas, bishop of Gortynos and Megaloupoleos (♱2021).

He wasn’t a bishop back then, he was a hieromonk.

Ieremias received his confession, read the prayer of absolution.

—Back then, the “good” priests of Athens didn’t give the Holy Communion to people with AIDS—


Because the issue of whether we contract AIDS wasn’t solved. [Eleni] Giamarellou…

Get Giamarellou [Professor of Medicine and physician] to speak here, don’t get Tsiodras.

Giamarellou said [during the COVID pandemic], “I will receive the Holy Communion, because there is no danger of contracting COVID from it.”


I have “a tradition.” I don’t take anyone by the hand and lead him.

I [just] say to him, “Go to Church.”

As soon as he went to the Church, …

Right away, a priest approached him.

He tells him, “My young man, do you want to be under my guidance…?”

Understood? Do you understand?

He left hell and came to “paradise.”

The devil was waiting for him in big churches of Athens.

Of course, the kid [Stamatis] didn’t realize what was going on because he was covered by holy grace.

They were trying to take back his grace.

Do you understand what they were doing?

They were taking the man’s grace back.

And he said, “Where am I? What is this place I am in?”

Yet, we connected him with a really decent monastery of Mt. Athos, really spiritual, really ascetic.

And Stamatis received guidance from there.

The devil sets another terrific plot against him there.

One night, the man went to enter the monastery in the evening,

and they told him, “The abbot said that you are not to enter our monastery.”

“You will stay outside.”

In the snowy weather, he slept outside the monastery in some kind of protective wall.

But the Hagiorites [i.e. of Hagio Oros/Mt. Athos], the saints, the saint founders who built the monasteries

are interested in all aching men.

The two [reposed] founders of the monastery appeared to him and said,

“Stamatis are you cold?”

“I am.”

“We brought you coverings.”

And the founders of the monastery covered him.

In the morning, when he woke up and saw the founders of the monastery, who are painted on the [monastery’s] wall,

they asked him, “Stamatis where did you get these clothes?”

“The abbot sent you away. Nobody gave you any clothes.”

“These two brought them to me.”

It was the founders of the monastery.

“What do you think about that?”

Many times, they say in Mt. Athos, “Love is of female gender [i.e. linguistically in the Greek language] and doesn’t fit.”

Moving on.

The man became desperate. By harassment, by this and that…

One day, again (he put on) tight pants, again this, again that…

The demon returned and called another 100 demons [with him].

Called another 100 demons.

And the clean man became worse than before.

Whose fault was it?

This system. These things here.

They inform me that Stamatis was seen [wearing] tight pants.

Tights, the pants “that stick,” you know…

I go [and find him], “Stamatis…”

[Stamatis]: “Listen. Something is wrong.”

“I am completely desperate. I believe in Christ, I believe in Panagia, [but] I don’t want to know any Christian.”

“No Christian, no Christian…”

There was a girl who became a nun with the name “Anna,”

who, to her honor, whatever Stamatis did, she was by his side.

She didn’t abandon him. She didn’t abandon him.

He didn’t want us anymore. He sent us away.

We went and he sent us away.

What did God do?

The first nephew [of Stamatis] gets sick with leukemia.

Then, Stamatis “converts.”

He goes to confession again and says to the spiritual father,

“This lesson is for me. My nephew fell sick for me.”

He says to the spiritual father, “Do you allow me to do a tama [oblation]?”

Pay attention, he asks the spiritual father before doing the tama.

“What tama do you want to do?”

“To ask God to give me my nephew’s sickness and die and to heal him?”

The spiritual father says, “It’s blessed.”

He [Stamatis] begs God…

Stamatis, out of nowhere, falls sick with leukemia.

The nephew gets well.

The same time they tell him that his nephew is all right, they announce to him that he has leukemia.

He lives for another 10 months and dies on the Saturday of Lazarus.

I told you who was his confessor, after all these, Fr. Ieremias Fountas.

Ieremias was a holy man. What did he do?

Because the priests did not give Holy Communion to people with AIDS at the time,

He left Mandra [town in Attica] and went to the Laiko Hospital

where Stamatis along with a girl—I will tell you her name—Kosmopoulou,

she is the daughter of some Kosmopoulos who was on the “Church of Greece” radio.

She was ANTARSYA [left political party]. A communist.

Along with Stamatis, she was taking care of the sick [AIDS patients], cutting their nails, etc.

When they died [AIDS patients], not even their parents wanted to clean them.

And they called me, Olga and Stamatis, and we washed the AIDS patients.

Thus, you cannot say that I am a racist, because I put my life in danger for them with much love, my brother.

And I didn’t care about their medical history [AIDS] and the fact that they were homosexuals.

Instead, we washed them,

[at a time when], the funeral workers threw them in a nylon bag and buried them.

Who taught us these things?

Fr. Paisios from Mt. Athos. He was the one who taught us that [among others].

Stamatis died, they buried him on the Saturday of Lazarus.

Unfortunately, at the time, I was on [missionary work] in Cameroon.

He was buried in an unknown place.

Meaning, they buried him in a cemetery.

He [Stamatis] gave an order that no marker was to be placed above his grave.

Meaning, workers would have to step [unknowingly] on the soil [under which he was buried] so as to move to the next grave.

Although he was super-rich and could go to the best hospital, he [opted to die] on a ranch.

He [Stamatis] said, “The same way the most insignificant man dies in Greece, my God, I too want to die without any care, so that if there is a care that You allow for me, I [might] get it in the next life.”

Elder Paisios did this.

He didn’t send the sheep away. He gathered the sheep, but, unfortunately, he didn’t send it to a mother, he sent it to “a stepmother.”

We are becoming “stepmothers.”

Even in our relationship with each other, we don’t know what to do.

We must gather ourselves and not point the finger at others.

Because you should point the finger to yourself and say, “It’s my fault, my fault.”

From the one on top to the last in order.

Stamatis, may God rest his soul.

Commemorate him. I commemorate Stamatis among the [names] of the saints.




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