November 9, 2023

The Nephew of Saint Nektarios Recalls a Miraculous Rescue by his Uncle

Anastasios Kephalas was the 13th and the youngest child of Haralambos Kephalas, who was the brother of Saint Nektarios. Saint Nektarios was not only an uncle to Anastasios, but a godfather, since it was he who baptized him. Saint Nektarios reposed in Athens on November 8th 1920, and Anastasios, who was 12 years old at the time, was the last living relative to speak with him. Anastasios had a 3 hour conversation with Saint Nektarios on his deathbed.

Below is an excerpt from an interview Manolis Melinos conducted with Anastasios for his book I Spoke With Saint Nektarios, in which Anastasios relates a miracle by his uncle Saint Nektarios on his behalf when he was a soldier in Albania in 1940.

Anastasios Kephalas: Because, Mr. Melinos, when the time came for me to go to Albania, a wonderful event happened to me. Although I was in the navy because I was born in Chios, we were thrown into the infantry because the state needed us. So I went.

I took part in a battle in the Popotista region, inside Albania, near Korçë. It was a village. We fought the Italians there. But the Albanians didn't leave us alone either.

I will now tell you one of the living miracles of our Saint [Nektarios]. It was November-December 1940. Immediately after the declaration of war. At first they had sent us to the border of Alexandroupolis. Then they moved us.

Manolis Melinos: Do you remember in which battalion you served?

Anastasios Kephalas: Yes. Twenty-third Infantry Regiment. They were from the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos. They had thrown us all there. Well, as we marched to the designated spot to take up battle positions, I tripped over a fence of wood and barbed wire that was covered in snow and completely hidden.

The place for us, as it was snowy, looked all the same. Day and night, the same! There, as we were walking, my foot slipped and I fell into the deep ditch. As I fell, I heard a voice, the voice of our captain:

"There goes Kephalas, we lost him."

I was literally lost in the snow. It was downhill there. Fence here, fence beyond. Falling, I took two or three turns. Fortunately, I had the knapsack on my back (i.e. the sack with the military items that every soldier carries on his back). I also had my gun.

The captain immediately orders:

"Look around to find Kephalas! Quickly."

I – to conclude why I am telling you all this detail – felt a "hand"! A force in the neck pulling me up! Something like he was lifting me from my shoulders. This is how I got out of the snow and fell on my back on the snowy ground.

As I was like this, I looked at the sky and said: "My Saint and my uncle, thank you! Thank you for helping me. I knew you would come."

I said it and cried. Note that I had with me the icon of the Saint.

As soon as the captain saw me, he said:

"What happened to you, eh boy? Did you come back to life? You came back from the dead."

"Well, not quite death, Captain."

I had felt like I was being pulled by a crane. I got out easily and fell on my back. The snow was falling on my face. I felt it like a blessing. You don't know how much I was pleased by it.

Source: Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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