November 22, 2023

How I Came To Know Saint Iakovos Tsalikes (Metr. Nicholas of Fthiotida)

By His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida

I was very lucky or rather blessed, that from the first years of my Priesthood, when I was serving as a Deacon in the Sacred Metropolis of Halkida near the late Metropolitan of Halkida Mr. Nicholas Selentis, I got to know the holy elder Father Iakovos Tsalikes, who recently the Holy and Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, at the suggestion of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew, recognized and ranked him among the Saints of the Orthodox Church.

I remember that the ever-memorable Nicholas was looking for the saints and sought to meet them. This is how he was first connected by spiritual ties with Saint Paisios the Athonite, about whom we will write about their friendship and communication another time.

From his childhood he met the Holy Elder of Paros, Father Philotheos Zervakos, whom he had as a spiritual father during his childhood and teenage years.

As the Preacher of the Sacred Metropolis of Thessaliotides and Phanariophersalon, he discovered the holy Priest Demetrios Gagastathis, about whom he was ready with rich material to write his biography and miracles, but death overtook him and the precious material was lost.

He went to the island of Patmos as High Priest together with Father Theokletos Fefe, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Penteli, to meet Father Amphilochios Makris.

And he even visited the Sacred Monastery of Agathon in Fthiotida to receive the blessing of the Holy Elder Bessarion, whose multitude of alms had amazed him.

Saint Iakovos was for Nicholas a treasure within the boundaries of his Metropolis and thus he had the opportunity to often turn to him and benefit spiritually.

In his pastoral visits to Northern Evia, he detoured his path to visit the Sacred Monastery of Venerable David and meet Father Iakovos.

At that time the Monastery had a few brothers, the elder Father Euthymios, Father Seraphim, Father Kyrillos and Father Iakovos, who was not an Abbot. He was a humble Hieromonk, who also had a parish, where he served two or three villages and shepherds' huts.

Nicholas was a lover of monks and a lover of saints and had the discernment of recognizing the Saints. In the Monastery, a priestly banquet was prepared for him, and there he invited the fathers to see them and discuss the matters that concerned the Monastery and everyone.

Father Iakovos, at the request of the Metropolitan, was the first to speak. He began to narrate miracles of Venerable David and incidents from his life.

In each of his proposals he reverently bowed his head to the Metropolitan and said: "Forgive me Your Eminence, I am an illiterate man."

The good-humored Bishop begged him to continue. This teaching did not end for two hours. It was indeed a blessing from God the beautiful narration of the wonderful events by the Elder and moreover to hear his Asia Minor loud and majestic voice.

At the time when Father Iakovos was enraptured and speaking, His Eminence leaned towards the place where I was sitting and said to me in a low voice: "Father Iakovos is a Saint."

Father Iakovos said the same thing later, when Nicholas of Halkida had reposed: "Our Master is in the choir of the Saints, as God revealed to me."

During my visits to the Monastery, he strengthened me spiritually and once told me God's revelation about Nicholas. In fact, once he took me by the hand and led me to the storerooms of the Monastery.

There, on the wall, he had hung the large photograph of Nicholas, which they had before in the Archontariki, and he said to me: "I come here and speak to our Holy High Priest."

When, as a Deacon, I accompanied Nicholas on the tours and we visited the Monastery of Venerable David, the Abbot was Archimandrite Christodoulos, who after the dethronement of Nicholas left for Mount Athos and today is the Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Koutloumousiou.

Father Iakovos was devoted to his spiritual works, confessing and ministering to the few pilgrims at the time and the inhabitants of the small villages, which were close to the Monastery.

He respected and loved Father Christodoulos and was very happy for his non-interference in the administrative affairs of the Monastery.

In the days of the late Nicholas' trials, with the unjust dethronement and then with his illness, Father Iakovos was the comfort of my soul.

When he confessed me, he knelt before the Holy Altar, bowed his head and listened. His advice was balm to the soul of the then young Deacon.

One day I noticed with surprise on his face the figure of Venerable David. Later he explained to me that he was earnestly begging the Saint to look like him.

Indeed, in the last years of his life, his sickly beard grew and became a rich beard, just like Venerable David's. But it was not only the outer appearance, it was mainly his inner heart which resembled his Saint.

He came down to Halkida at certain intervals with the Skull of Venerable David. First he stopped to see the Bishop, so he could venerate the Saint.

Nicholas was kneeling in front of Father Iakovos who would then rest the sacred box with the Skull of the Venerable Wonderworker on his High Priestly head.

Father Iakovos prayed on behalf of the High Priest, who, like a humble monk, waited on his knees for the Saint to finish the prayers.

Metropolitan Nicholas (Selentis) of Halkida (center) with Saint Iakovos of Evia to his immediate left.

The people revered both Venerable David and Elder Iakovos. Families would request and take into their home the Holy Skull for the night.

Father Iakovos performed either a Sanctification of the Waters or Unction and then spoke about the Saint and about his miraculous interventions in the lives of people who were being tested.

Unfortunately, there were some, even among the Priests and the "religious", who ridiculed him as a visionary and fantasist.

I happened upon such conversations and felt sorry for the ignorance of those people. The holy Elder knew everything that was said behind him, but as he did not listen he respected and loved everyone.

He lived most of his life in obscurity. The wave of his pilgrims and admirers began after the publication of books about him by reputable scientists and authors.

God's providence in the midst of a famine of souls was revealed in the spiritual treasures, such as Father Iakovos. The compassionate Elder gave his life to the ministry of students, scientists, families, young and old.

As was his duty, he bowed and handed over the Cross of the Ministry to his successor, the late Father Kyrillos, who followed in his own footsteps.

He had the memory of death every day. One day, outside in the yard of the church, he showed me the place where his grave would be dug and said to me: "Father Nicholas, here you will bury me and they will leave me there until the Second Coming of the Lord."

The loving and compassionate, the sweet father, the tender and invisible laborer of the Lord's vineyard, as one who has boldness, let him intercede on behalf of us all:

[A Composition of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida]

Tone 4. O Martys sou Kyrie.

Having lived blamelessly with much reverence, you imitated the manner of David the Elder, Father Iakovos. You made the Monastery and all its land to shine, with the multitude of signs and the healings of sufferings. Wherefore with boldness before Christ intercede on behalf of those who honor you.


As a child you loved Christ, everything worldly you left behind with all your soul, hearts thirsted for the nectar of love, which you richly quenched Father Iakovos.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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