Elder Porphyrios was born on February 7, 1906 in Evia, Greece and was baptised with the name Evangelos. Young Evangelos was the fourth child of the family and attended primary school for only two years and due his family’s extreme poverty began working in the fields of his family and in the tending of their few livestock.
Reading little by little the life of St John the Cave-dweller there while tending the sheep, he felt the yearning to imitate him. By the grace of God he set out for Mount Athos at the age of twelve and arrived at the hut of St George Kavsokalyvia. Finding his two elders there he submitted to them as to Christ with great zeal, eagerness and humility and due to his extreme humility and obedience he received early the gift of spiritual discernment i.e. a type of clairvoyance. He became a monk at the age of fourteen and took the name Nikitas and two years later took his final monastic vows of the Great Schema.
In 1926 he was ordained a priest with the name Porphyrios by Archbishop of Sinai Porphyrios III and soon after was made a confessor. In October 1940, on the eve of Greece’s entrance into the Second World War he was assigned to the Polyclinic of Athens near Omonia. There he served for 33 years as priest and confessor. As confessor he received a great amount of people including ascetics, criminals, famous persons, the highly educated and the uneducated, rich and poor. To each one he offered the love of Christ as their way of salvation.
Elder Porphyrios was characterised by extreme humility, complete obedience, out-flowing love, patience without complaint, wise discernment, physically diagnosis and healing, powerful clairvoyance, a great love of learning, tireless workability, unceasing prayer and an Orthodox ethos without fanaticism. He gave up his soul at his beloved Kavokalyvia on Mount Athos on December 2, 1991.
From the moment I became a monk I believed that death does not exist. That’s how I felt then and how I will always feel – that I am eternal and immortal. How magnificent!
In the church which possesses the saving sacraments there is no despair. We may be deeply sinful. But we make confessions, the priest reads the prayer, we are forgiven and we progress towards immortality, without any anxiety and without any fear.
When we love Christ, we live the life of Christ. If, by the grace of God, we succeed in doing this, we find ourselves in a different state, we live in another, enviable state. For us there is no fear – neither of death, nor of the devil nor of hell. All these things exist for people who are far from Christ, for non-Christians. For us Christians who do His will, as the Gospel says, these things do not exist. That is, they exist, but when one kills the old self ‘along with the passions and the desires’ (Gal 5:24), one gives no importance to the devil or to evil. It doesn’t concern us.
What concerns us is love, service to Christ and to our fellow man. If we reach the point of feeling joy, love, worship of God without any fear, we reach the point of saying, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal 2:20). No one can prevent us from entering into this mystery.
‘Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios’ edited from an archive of notes and recordings by the Sisters of the Holy Convent of Chrysopigi