In this video, Fr. Evangelos talks about the meeting of St. Paisios with Stamatis (a homosexual man). This is the testimony of a direct witness. At that time, Fr. Evangelos Papanikolaou was a novice on Mount Athos and he knew St. Paisios very well. Now he is a physician and serves as a priest in Greece.
Video source: Antonis Tzatzanis
“What is your name my child”
“My name is Stamatios”
“Stamatios, my child, do not you know that you have to come to Mt. Athos with heavy clothing [because of the weather].”
“I had no idea, … I took the airplane, then I took a taxi [and came to Mt. Athos].”
“We thought imagine how much money he has for affording a taxi [to Mt. Athos].
He was really beautiful! His mother was German and his father was Greek … you realize how beautiful he was, masculine, really beautiful…”
He tells us: “Can you take me with you and show me around Mt. Athos because I have no idea [of these places]
“Please, I want to visit Saint Paisios…”
“[…], I am thinking, I was there shortly before for 6 hours … now I have to go back, climb the mountains, ring his bell, [Saint Paisios] will see me and will tell me:
“You, chubby, was here just before, what do you want again?”
“I will have to take the bus, cross, climb down, show the cross in the sea, leave, go to Karyes, go to Dochiariou [monastery], the abbot will find us, he swears a lot, he is not an easy man ….
and I became nervous, I am telling myself “what have I got myself into? why did you have to start a conversation with him? Now, you have to go back to St. Paisios …”
I became mad, but you have a right to go through all this … in the end, you have to say “Yes, we will go!” … because [he is] Christ …. and I told him “My brother, we are going to break the network [/cycle], we will go!”
“Here we go again, carrying the luggage on our backs, he was travelling with scarpins [low shoes], we did not have anything to give him so he could change them … we made him a stick so we could climb the frozen path on the mountains, it is an uphill, first it’s a downhill, but then it becomes uphill to reach St. Paisios [cell].”
We ring the bell and elder Paisios shows up. Since it rained yesterday and the tank was full of water, he wanted us to pump the water again in order to clean the tank from the leftovers.
“Welcome guys!” he said. He took us inside, we did the same job again, pumping the water [from the tank] to clean what was left inside and he took him [Stamatis] in private.
“He was saved! I am going to explain later why”.
“They talked in private, they were standing nearby. He [Stamatis] was a Greek-German so he knew Greek.”
While they were talking, this guy [Stamatis] started shining, the darkness of his face was leaving and he was shining, he was shining, he was shining, he was shining, ….
Elder Paisios says to me “Vangelis, come here”.
“From this point on for the rest of your life, you undertake the duty to pray for a sick, now deceased, named Michalis.”
“In case you become a priest or whatever else you become you will pray for him for your whole life!”
Elder Paisios, then, says to Stamatis: “You do not have the right to pray again for this man [Michalis]. Evangelos undertakes your obligation for praying from now on.”
“While we were at Iveron [monastery], I had asked him: “Why have you come to Mt. Athos?”
“A friend of mine died and I came to Mt. Athos to pray for his soul” he told me.
“I am a doctor and I am clever, I am not dumb, if you had ask me “Why have you come to Mt. Athos?” I would have said “A friend of mine has died of leukemia and I came to pray for him in Mt. Athos”, “… a friend of mine died of cancer ….”, “…a friend of mine died of a stroke…”
but he did not mention the illness that killed his friend.
“And as a doctor I figured out he had died of AIDS. I figured it out immediately. As you know, at that time, AIDS was immediately correlated with living as a homosexual. So I did not say anything, we did not say anything, because we did not want to make him unhappy and sadden him.”
“As we were leaving [the cell of St. Paisios], elder Paisios takes him in his arms, like this…
he gives him a little smack and tells him:
“Stamatios, do not be afraid of anything because if you managed to trick me into not understanding anything, then imagine how you will also be able to trick the toll houses…”
“Did you realize what he told him?”
It was as if telling him: “I would normally have understood your passion, but God concealed it from me until you told me what it is …”
I would not understand all these things at the time, I was just witnessing them, I am explaining them in hindsight.”
And he [St. Paisios] told him: “My child, be afraid of nothing!”. He gave him a little smack just like this and tells him “I will commemorate you forever” …
Now, listen who Stamatis was and why he had visited Mt. Athos.
Stamatis for me is a Saint, I commemorate him as “Stamatis the monk”.
Stamatis was born in Germany from a father who was Greek but he was a bit brutal. The mother that raised him was a German and had this short of an “instructor” style. The kid turned out to be really beautiful. They sent him to a gym and while working out at the gym, someone approached him…and this tendency of love and affection towards the same sex started appearing.
The child came to Athens. He was a professor at Goethe. He had a very good salary. There he met a bank employee with whom he developed a relationship—he was the famous, Michalis, the one the elder [Paisios] told [to Stamatis]: “You will never again commemorate him, Evangelos will commemorate him, but you will never again”.
Poor [Michalis] was sick with AIDS. Stamatis had such craziness and love for him that he said:
“I am going to get AIDS so we can be sick together!”. Be careful! Those are spiritual sicknesses and they demonstrate the intensity of the passion and we have to be really careful when we talk about it!
I want to point where elder Paisios comes in so I can also tell you how he dealt with it.
Stamatis got sick of leukemia, at the time there were not a lot of medicines, now most of the people [suffering] are dealing with it. The state is providing them with medicines which cost around 2000 euros, they get an allowance of 800 euros per month. And a lady comes with breast cancer and gets 400 euros and to the one who has nothing, it gives 800 euros because the system is like it. Things are exactly as I tell you, we went from the one extreme to the other.
The sick [Michalis] got into the hospital. His parents would not accept Stamatis coming to visit him in his room. Still, Stamatis was waiting eagerly outside the hospital “St. Savvas” and was getting information on Michalis’ condition. As soon as he would learn Michalis had lost weight and now is 50 kg, he would also go on a diet and reach 50 kg…then 46kg …then 43 kg.
Michalis died. And when he died, Stamatis said “What to do for the one I love, my God?”. They told him go to Mt. Athos and tell the fathers to pray for the repose of his soul.
The passion brought him to Mt. Athos! That’s why you should say nothing!
Because the poor did not know what Mt. Athos was, he thought it was just like Kolonaki square, a meeting place of theirs. He came to Iveron [monastery], regarded as Kolonaki of Mt. Athos because of Panagia Kolonakiotissa, this Panagia the first, the royal holy icon of Mt. Athos.
He came [to Mt. Athos], this is how we met and he asked us to take him to elder Paisios. Indeed, he went to elder Paisios.
Elder Paisios told him:
– Can you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays?
– I can!
– You make so much money from the German college, you will keep 1/10 for you and the rest 9/10 you will give it to the poor…can you do that?
– I can!
– Can you read the Akathist Hymn to Theotokos every day?
– I can!
– Can you, Stamatis, go to the hospital once a week and take care of a sick man who has nobody [to help him?]
– I can!
“These are the saints of God! Pay attention!”
– Tell me, can you go find a spiritual father [meaning an Orthodox Christian priest] and confess?
– I can!
– Can you follow the canon prescribed [for you] by this spiritual father?
-Yes, I can!
– Can you go every Sunday to the Liturgy?
-Yes, I can!
– Go and do what you can…and God will do for you…what you cannot do [for yourself]!” elder Paisios said.
“Did you understand what he told him? Go and do what you can and let God fight your passion. Let God do for you what you cannot do … that you are dragged by this passion!”
He also told him: “You will never again remember that man [Michalis]! You will not even commemorate his name among the deceased ones! This will be the duty of the one over there [meaning father Evangelos]. Bring him here.”
“The first one I commemorate among the deceased ones, after my spiritual father and the elders and father Timotheos, the first one I commemorate is this servant of God, Michael. Why?
Because it is an order from elder Paisios.”
“Have you ever seen what means to be an angel of God?”. “Angel of God!”
The Grace of the Holy Spirit covered him [Stamatis] and he lived the rest of his life in an amazing spiritual state. Fast, all-night vigils, prayers, repentances, confession.
He devoted himself to this. Whoever had AIDS and had not confessed, Stamatis would take the spiritual father to him so he could confess. Priests would not usually give Holy Communion to people with AIDS in the hospital at the time. When he found a priest who would give Holy Communion to them, he would drive him with his car to them so they could receive Holy Communion.