Saint Nektarios was born in 1846, in Thrace. He moved to Constantinople at the age of 14, where he completed his initial education and in 1866 he took up a teaching post on the island of Chios. At thirty years of age he became a monk. Three years later he was ordained deacon and in 1885 graduated from the University of Athens. Throughout his student years he was known for writing Biblical commentaries, pamphlets and books. Following his graduation he moved to Alexandria, where he was ordained a priest and faithfully served at the parish of St Nicholas in Cairo. In recognition of his faithfulness to the Church, to his skills as a preacher as well as his administrative abilities, he was consecrated Bishop of Pentapolis in 1889. After one year of serving as a Bishop, he was unjustly removed from his responsibilities due to unproven accusations and allegations caused by the jealousy of other clergy. He thus moved back to Greece in 1891 where he took on other responsibilities, establishing, leading and guiding a monastic sisterhood, as well as being in charge of and teaching at an ecclesiastical school. At the age of 62 he resigned from his post as school director in order to live the rest of his life solely dedicated to writing, hearing confessions and guiding those who sought his help. He passed away in 1920, age 74, following hospitalisation.
His saintly life, his humility and patience throughout his trials, his prayerful and humble presence and his unconditional love for all was profound. Many people, during his own lifetime, regarded him as a saint. His relics were removed from the ground in 1953; significantly giving out a beautiful and miraculous fragrance. His official canonisation took place in 1961 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. So many miracles could be mentioned and attributed to St Nektarios’ intercessions to our ‘God Who is Wondrous in His Saints’ and many are the messages one can take from the Saint’s life. Let us look at three quotes, as guides to our own lives:
“Two factors are involved in man’s salvation: the grace of God and the will of man. Both must work together, if salvation is to be attained.”
“Prayer is truly a heavenly armor, and is alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriad’s of blessings.”
“A Christian must be courteous to all. His words and deeds should breathe with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in his soul, so that in this way he might glorify the name of God. He who regulates all of his speech also regulates all of his actions. He who keeps watch over the words he is about say also keeps watch over the deeds he intends to do, and he never goes out of the bounds good and benevolent conduct. The graceful speech of a Christian is characterized by delicateness and politeness. This fact, born of love, produces peace and joy. On the other hand, boorishness gives birth to hatred, enmity, affliction, competitiveness, disorder and wars.”
– St Nektarios
O faithful, let us honour Nektarios, divine servant of Christ, offspring of Silivria and guardian of Aegina, who in these latter years was manifested as the true friend of virtue. All manner of healing wells forth for those who in piety cry out, “Glory to Christ who glorified you; glory to Him who, through you, wrought wonders; glory to Him who, through you, works healing for all.”
“In joy of heart let us hymn with songs the newly revealed star of Orthodoxy, the newly erected bulwark of the Church; for, glorified by the activity of the Spirit, he poureth forth the abundant grace of healing upon those who cry: Rejoice, O Father Nektarios, model of patience and lover of virtue.”