August 10, 2023

My Elder Saint Kallinikos, Metropolitan of Edessa (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos) - 3 of 5

...continued from part two.

3. An Ascetic Presbyter

Continuing from the previous point we will see that he was indeed an ascetic Presbyter. He was ordained Deacon and Presbyter in 1957, and I met him two years later, in 1959, when I was a student in Agrinio. When he became a Presbyter he lived an ascetic life, he was also an ascetic Presbyter and continued to live an ascetic life as a Bishop. That is, he prayed constantly to God, he lived with asceticism, with fasting, with prayer, with temperance, but at the same time a great joy came out of his being, like that which the saints have, like that which Saint Seraphim of Sarov had, who, when he met someone, would say "Christ is risen, my joy!" One felt the same when meeting Saint Kallinikos.

He lived ascetically to the point where, when he finished his military service, in 1948, he went to Messolonghi and for twenty years until he became a Bishop, he lived in a small room, as his relatives remember, his older nephews, one of whom today is a retired lieutenant general. In fact he had the cot that he had taken from the army and for twenty years he slept in it. And he had the desire, when he became Metropolitan in Edessa, to take this cot with him to sleep in it. But his brother, before the enthronement, replaced it with a simple iron bed. Otherwise, he did not change his ascetic life at all, as his brothers said: "What changed with Kallinikos when from a Presbyter he became a Bishop? Simply that he went from the cot to a simple iron bed."

As a Presbyter he prayed constantly, woke up at night and prayed, while at the same time he was a Preacher and the Chancellor of the Sacred Metropolis of Aetolia and Akarnania in a difficult period. Thus, his prayer had great power, and his word was very powerful, because it came from a pure heart and above all from an existence that was prayerful.

He lived with an hagiorite spirit and asceticism, which is why he had great power, to the point where he read over the possessed and the demons were in dread. His word and his prayer had such power that he cast demons out of possessed people. Someone who was present at an exorcism performed on a possessed person describes it as follows: "At the time when he was reading over a possessed woman the demon dreaded from within and said: 'You burned me, Kallinikos!', and he replied: 'All-Wicked One, it was not I the unworthy monk who burned you, but our Jesus Christ." His word and his preaching had such power that he regenerated people, but even when he prayed he had a very great power, in order to submit and expel demons from people.

There is a characteristic example. I remember that he himself told us in Edessa: "I know a certain priest in Agrinio, who recited prayers for the possessed. And once he sat all night, until the morning, reading prayers, and though the demon screamed he continued to read until the morning when the demon came out." I thought at the time that there was indeed such a Priest, a Hieromonk in Agrinio who did this work. He never said it was him, but, as we learned after he reposed, he was the one who cast out demons, and hid himself. And in fact we learned this again from a demon who was in some girls. And how did we learn this?

Saint Kallinikos reposed in 1984. In 1985, i.e. one year later, a friend of his, Father Iakovos, who was the Preacher of the Sacred Metropolis of Arta (he has now reposed), and a most pious and holy Bishop, was elected Metropolitan of Argolis. A year after his episcopal ordination and enthronement, i.e. 1986, he was called to the Sacred Monastery of Saint Marina, which is on the hill in the castle of Argos, to read over two girls, 17 and 18 years old, who were tormented by demons.

I was told this incident by the late Metropolitan Iakovos of Argolis, but I will now read to you how it is described in writing by a Priest who was present there, Father Demetrios, who is the vicar of the Sacred Church of Saint Basil in Argos. He says in his written testimony:

"During the 'reading' the demons were vicious against the Metropolitan, and at one point said to him: 'Twice I tried to kill you, but you were saved by your Lady (the Panagia) and that toothless elder of yours (Fr. Athanasios Hamakiotis)!'

After a little while, suddenly, the two demons began to scream in terror: 'Go away, Kallinikos, you're burning us, you're twisting us, leave us alone, go away...!'

Surprised, I asked the Metropolitan: 'Which Kallinikos are they seeing, Your Eminence, that is burning them?'

'Of Edessa,' he replied.

'And how did he get here, Your Eminence?' I asked.

'I invoked him mentally,' he answered.

The Metropolitan then asked the demons: 'Do you know Kallinikos?'

'Yes,' said one of them, 'he had removed me years ago from a young man in Agrinio.'

'Ahh,' whispered the Metropolitan, 'that explains the matter.'

'What matter, Your Eminence?' I asked him.

'I'll tell you as soon as we're done,' he replied.

When the exorcism was completed, our late Metropolitan narrated how the late Metropolitan Kallinikos of Edessa, when he was a preacher of the Sacred Metropolis of Aetolia and Acarnania, had mentioned in one of their discussions that two clergymen in Agrinio (he did not reveal their names), were called to pray for a young demon possessed man. After reading the exorcisms, one of them left. The other, sympathizing with the tortured young man, stayed with him almost all night praying and finally the demon left!"

I personally know this, the current Metropolitan of Edessa, Joel, knows it too, who was a Preacher and we were both Preachers together and we confirm it. He told us this many times: "I know a certain hieromonk who cast out a demon in Agrinio." And now he comes here after his death and we understand that it was him, because the demon himself revealed it.

When Iakovos, the Metropolitan of Argolis, told me about this incident, he told me that, apart from what the Priest Father Demetrios, who was present, wrote, the demon would also scream and say to Metropolitan Iakovos:

"You burn me, but it's not your fault, it's not your fault, but the one who made you Bishop." Immediately Iakovos asked: "Who made me a Bishop?" And the demon answered: "Kallinikos, he loved you, he wanted to make you a Bishop, but he made you one now where he is in heaven. He cast me out a few years ago from a man and I fought him all his life. I managed to eat his flesh with sickness, but he shines in heaven. His empty wallet sanctified him. He protects you. If I see you without him, I will hurt you."

Of course, we do not accept the opinion of the demons, but many times they also tell the truth, in the sense that here they were telling the exact facts: "He cast me out a few years ago from a man and I fought him all his life." He was still a Presbyter then. There are other cases of exorcisms of possessed people with the prayers he recited that came from the power of his life.

I could tell you a lot about the struggles he underwent in the Sacred Metropolis of Aetolia and Acarnania, about his preaching, his missionary journeys, the administration during which he was resourceful, intelligent and at the same time spiritual, but all this cannot be done in a short speech.


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