April 1, 2023

When Eugenios Voulgaris Was Healed of an Abscess by the Theotokos

Eugenios Voulgaris

Eugenios Voulgaris was the director of the Athoniada School (a Greek Orthodox educational institution founded at 1749 in Mount Athos that is under Vatopaidi Monastery) in the second half of the 18th century. At the Monastery of Dionysiou, this scholar experienced the miraculous power of the Panagia through the original icon that inspired the composition of the Akathist Hymn, who cured him of a painful abscess. He narrates as follows:

I will narrate the miracle that the Panagia performed on me, in order to render her the gratitude I owe her. I'm not writing this to boast that I received such a divine visitation, and I don't even mind if they call me stupid for telling the story.

In 1758, therefore, I was a schoolmaster in Athoniada. When spring came, a dangerous abscess appeared in the depth of my left armpit. I was suffering from a slight fever and felt exhausted. The abscess was constantly growing and hardening. The entire armpit and the left breast had hardened like stone.

I was in terrible pain. I not only could not stand, but also sit, lie down, sleep or breathe freely. I felt disappointment and preferred death to that terrible suffering.

Some friends advised me to be treated in a hospital in Chios, Smyrna or Thessaloniki. However, every movement was difficult and dangerous.

In my despair I learned that a certain Dionysian monk Nikephoros was an expert in operating on abscesses. I decide to visit him. They put me with great effort into a small boat, and after circumnavigating Mount Athos we arrived at Dionysiou monastery.

Father Nikephoros carefully examined the abscess and told me:

"Have courage. But wait for the cure from the Honorable Forerunner, the patron of the monastery. I will only serve you as his Assistant."

At the same time, he put emollients on the painful part, to soften its hardness. Hope flared up in me that with the power of the Honorable Forerunner he would heal me.

Father Nikephoros used to give me a thousand and two poultices. And what didn't he invent! Greens, roots, leaves, fruits, tallow, snails, heated bricks, various oils. However, the abscess neither receded nor softened. On the contrary, it was getting worse.

Then the elder decided to operate on me. He wanted to strike the evil at the root, which, as he said, was as big as a chickpea. He would plunge the knife into the depths and, taking out the root that was the beginning of the evil, soon the whole abscess would disappear.

But I was afraid of the boldness of the surgeon. An abscess that had not matured should not be operated on. That's why I refused the intervention. So Father Nikephoros despaired of my cure, while I despaired of my life.

Completely disappointed with human help, I turned to the Mother of Compassion, and I persistently begged her with tears to become my doctor and healer.

"Look mercifully upon your servant, all-praiseworthy Theotokos, and upon my painful physical suffering, and remedy my anguish of spirit," I lamented in a low voice.

Theotokos of the Akathist at Dionysiou Monastery

Later I turn to those present and said to them:

"Take me to the Chapel of Theotokos of the Akathist, and leave me in front of her miraculous icon."

Indeed, they took me there standing up. And while the priest chanted the Great Paraklesis for my sake, I was constantly weeping. Finally, I fell before the icon of the Panagia, and after wetting the ground with my tears, I begged fervently and said:

"Don't let me, Mother, get lost. Stop my calamity. For you are able to do all things as the Mother of the all-powerful God."

That was it! Immediately I felt strength inside me, I got up and joyfully left the chapel. With the help of a brother and my cane, I climbed up to my cell and finally slept the whole night - I, who spent so many nights sleepless from pain.

In the morning I was calm. The abscess soon withered and disappeared.

Since then I feel indebted to the Theotokos and I proclaim her miracle everywhere.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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