January 4, 2024

Saint Nikephoros the Leper, a Spiritual Struggler and Guide

By Archimandrite Nikodemos Yiannakopoulos

I met Father Nikephoros in 1961 at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, then the Leprosy Hospital. We went, a group of young people at the time, with the then deacon and later Metropolitan of Chalkida Nikolaos Selentis. He motivated us to give some joy to our socially isolated sick brethren, to hug them, to eat with them from their same plate, to partake of communion after them.

One of them was Father Nikephoros. he bore the signs of the disease clearly. Blind, crippled, worn out. Immediately, however, you discerned, from within that sickly body, that a spiritual power, a divine zeal, an infinite love and a peace, which permeated you entirely, came out.

That which I still particularly remember was his struggle with demons. He received a lot of attacks and sometimes the confrontation even reached a physical fight. And when he subjected them "to the power of the Cross", in the name of Jesus he scourged them and forced them to confess their demonic activities. He said to them: "Tell me, baldy, where were you last night?" And, when the demon confessed his defeats, Father Nikephoros rejoiced and glorified God. And when a Christian fell into his traps, he grieved and prayed.

His small hospital room was for us a place of spiritual help and joy. We had in front of us a fighter of the "good fight" and we were gaining strength. His pleading at the throne of God, with his fiery prayers, gave us the dew of the Spirit, carried us along in spiritual upliftment, in divine zeal, even if for the writer the zeal withered easily.

With a lot of simplicity, without many teachings, he was a spiritual guide, because he himself with his life was a source of teaching, He showed everyone, many times and with his silence, the God who was speaking within hims - "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matt. 10:20).

Let us have his blessing, and may he intercede that we find mercy on the day of judgment.

* The term kasides is translated as "bald one", and is often used as a name for demons, because they are said to be bald from being scalded with the fires of divine judgment.

Source: From the book Νικηφόρος ο λεπρός by Σίμωνος Μοναχού. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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