On this day 68 years ago, 3 September 1953, the tomb of St Nektarios was opened by the nuns in the convent where he was buried. Read below what happened!
Some years [after the blessed repose of St. Nektarios on the evening of November 8th 1920], as is the custom in Greece, his grave was opened to take the relics out. When they opened the grave [on September 2nd 1953], what should they see but that the Saint was whole [i.e. incorrupt] and fragrant. Not even his vestments had changed in any way. It was just as if he had fallen asleep and been buried that very day. They had not told the people of Aegina, because he had already worked many miracles and become very beloved, and a very large crowd would have gathered — even from Athens and other places where he was known — for the opening of his grave.
So, early in the morning, as soon as they were finished with the Divine Liturgy, as it was dawning they went and began to open the grave. At the same time there was a taxi coming by on the road below the convent. Inside was a woman who had been to some resort place. She was not a woman of good repute, but of ill repute and many sins. As soon as they approached the Holy Trinity Convent, there was such a fragrance in the air that she told the driver, “Stop. What is that fragrance?” So he stopped and looked around. “Oh,” he replied, “here is the convent of the Holy Nectarios. What else could such a fragrance be but that they are opening his grave today, and the fragrance is coming from the grave. For many times a fragrance came from his body before they buried him. And even from the grave it comes sometimes.”
Immediately she opened the door of the taxi and ran to go and see. She went up to the convent at the moment that they had opened the coffin and found the relics whole. She was very moved by this and by the fragrance, especially.
She began to weep and publicly confess her sins. Thus she was corrected and became a prudent and Christian woman in her way of life. At that time they telegraphed to Athens to the Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos, and he went to the island to see the relics for himself. After examining the relics, he irreverently counseled the nuns to leave the relics out in the sun and air for two or three days and then rebury him so that he would dissolve…The nuns, fearing the censure of the archbishop and also being simple, did as they were told. For two days they put him outside in the sun and air and then reburied him. But within a month or two they opened the grave a second time and took out the relics which were still whole and put them in a marble sarcophagus.
Glory to God for the all the modern day saints. May we be blessed to have an Australian Orthodox canonised saint soon, in the meantime, as the saying goes, ‘want to honour a saint? Begin by imitating a saint’.