March 2, 2024

Saint Nicholas Planas - a short biography

By Archimandrite Alexandros Mostratos,
Preacher and Chancellor of the Metropolis of Paronaxia

The life and work of the holy Priest Nicholas Planas, a saint of our days, is the supreme expression of the true Christ-like life of every conscious believer and more so of the genuine and perfect Priest.

The beautiful, courageous and saint-bearing Naxos had the divine favor and blessing to be his birthplace. He was born in the year 1851. His parents, Captain John and Augustina, were pious and benevolent people, like all the islanders, and wealthy. They also had a commercial boat, which went from Naxos to Smyrna, Constantinople, and even to Alexandria in Egypt. Inside some of their estates they also had a small chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas Planas was sanctified from infancy. Most of the time as a child he was in this Sacred Temple and spent many hours there chanting what he knew and many times wearing, instead of a priestly phelonion, some kind of sheet, imitating the Priests. One day he chanted so rapturously that he caused the admiration of the passers-by.

His whole life from his childhood, foretold his future life and conduct. He received his divine miraculous powers by the grace of God from his childhood. Thus he knew of the sinking of their boat outside the City, and told his parents.

He learned his first letters from his grandfather - his mother's father - priest George Melissourgos, from whom he learned to read the Sacred Psalter. He also went with him to the Divine Liturgies and served him at the Sacred Bema, while at the same time he received nourishment from the Divine Worship.

When Saint Nicholas was fourteen years old, his father left this world. So his mother and his sister came to Athens and he went with them. They lived in the area between the Temple of Saint John in Plaka and the Temple of Saint Panteleimon in Ilisos, where there were many people from Naxos.

He shared with his sister their very considerable paternal property. But he pawned his share on behalf of some poor man, who never returned it to him.

Thus he remained poor all his life. At the age of seventeen he entered into an honorable marriage following pressure from his mother, with Eleni Probeleggiou from Kythera. From this marriage he had a son, John. Then his wife died. On July 28, 1879, he was ordained a Deacon in the Sacred Temple of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Plaka. On March 2, 1885, he was ordained a Presbyter and placed in the Sacred Temple of Saint Panteleimon in Ilisos. He served both in this Parish and in the Parish of Saint John on Vouliagmenis Street. In Saint Elisha's, he liturgized every day.

Saint Nicholas was a man of God, the holy liturgist of the Most High, the tireless minister of the sacred and worshiper of the Triune God. His great piety, his boundless kindness, his excessive lack of avarice, his simplicity, his radiant priestly ethos, his untouchable sanctity, his humility, his love of Divine Worship and his other virtues, won him honor in the consciousness of the people. Everyone revered Saint Nicholas, those who were notable and unnotable.

He never loved riches. Whatever was given to him he immediately gave to the poor. He had given his wages to eleven families of widows and orphans. For years and years he gave them an allowance until their children turned fourteen. He helped young Deacons in their studies. He strengthened materially and spiritually those who were in need.

He was tireless. For more than half a century he liturgized daily. He was modest, simple in all its manifestations! The center of his life was the liturgical life of our Church, his wealth and his treasure! As a man of prayer, his life was a ministry of faith and love.

He was a faster. He fasted all the Lents even of oil. And he started the fasting of the Honorable Cross from September 1st until the 14th. Also, for the Archangels, he fasted from the 1st to the 8th of November.

Simple and brilliant, apt in his answers, he combined simplicity and sanctity, naivety with holiness.

He had not studied in Universities, nor in Ecclesiastical Schools, nor in Middle Schools and High Schools. And although he didn't study in any classes of the Greek Schools at the time, he perfectly possessed the wisdom of God.

God glorified Saint Nicholas by performing miracles. His miracles are countless. He healed the sick, cast out demons, foretold the future, solved difficult matters, gave proper advice.

However, after a holy life, a life that was an offering to God, he too, as a human, had to leave this world and be led to eternal and true life.

The Sunday of the Prodigal Son dawned, the 28th of February in the year 1932. This is the day that he liturgized for the last time in the earthly Sacred Sanctuary. After the Divine Liturgy he lost consciousness. The faithful and his relatives took care of him. But despite all their care, they could not reverse the course his health had taken.

It was ten o'clock in the evening of March 2, 1932. He made the sign of the Honorable Cross. He was whispering prayers. He said:

"My journey has come to an end! Glory to You O God! May Divine Grace bless you."

With this and more, he departed this world.

In the morning, they brought his sacred relic to the Temple of Saint John on Vouliagmenis Street, where he was parish priest. For three days it was a popular place of pilgrimage. The events were unprecedented and the number of people innumerable. Thousands of people came down from the Attica Basin to say goodbye to the modern Saint!

On August 29, 1992, the sacred and miraculous relics of Saint Nicholas Planas were placed in a silver coffin, which is currently located in the right aisle of this Sacred Temple.

Our Holy Church officially canonized Saint Nicholas Planas as a saint during the 135th Synodical Period (1991-1992) of the All-Revered Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the recommendation of His Eminence Metropolitan Nikodemos of Patras, and of course with the care of our Shepherd His Eminence Ambrose.

Undoubtedly, it is very beneficial to present living models in our days, examples that embody the true way of life, that is, the way of the Orthodox life according to Christ.

Among these great holy examples, he is also the example of the life of the great people of Naxos, being a chosen child of Naxos and Orthodoxy, our holy compatriot Priest Nicholas Planas. A saint who did not live in the old days, but lived only sixty-seven years ago, which means that there are many old people who may remember him, so he is their contemporary.

Thus, the most worthy, the chosen, this holy priest of the Most High, with his shining life, he also illuminates the path of our own life abundantly.

His presence in our local Church, his ministry in the wider area of the Church, his testimony within Orthodoxy, is a priceless treasure, which should be for all of us and indeed for our priests a rule, a highlight and of course a model.

May his life inspire us and may his holy prayers support us. Amen.

Saint Nicholas Planas celebrates during the established feast of March 2nd. If the day of the feast coincides during the period of Great Lent, then his memory is celebrated on the following Sunday.

Also, he celebrates the first Sunday of September, during the recently established Synaxis of the Five Saints of Paronaxia, which is celebrated in the newly built Sacred Temple of Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Nicholas Planas‚ both local saints, in the city of Naxos.

Also, on the third Sunday of September in Paros, where the Synaxis of the Saints is also held.

The Services of Praise for Saint Nicholas Planas, which are in liturgical use, were compiled by Metropolitan Nikodemos of Patras and by Archimandrite Nikodemos Pavlopoulos, Abbot of the Monastery of Leimonos in Lesvos.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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