The last time Saint Porfyrios entered the Holy Mountain

20 May 2022

The story is told by Fr. Evangelos. As a young man, he often visited the Holy Mountain. On one occasion, after 1990, he was on the caique, the little boat that goes from Dafni to the Lavra. The weather was bad, however, and the captain, Iordanis, announced that they’d get no further than Saint Ann’s. Curled up in a bundle on the deck was Elder Porfyrios. Once the boat set sail, the captain picked him up and settled him comfortably.

We passed the landing-stage of Simonopetra and made our way to Grigoriou where the boat made harbor so that three or four visitors could disembark, but it was actually dragged to its mooring place by an elderly monk, Fr. Symeon, who threw an anchor, as if it were Alexander the Great’s spear, catching the gunwale with it. In this way he was able to haul the boat in. As soon as he saw Elder Porfyrios he shouted: ‘Hey, Porfyrios, is that you?’ He went up a small slope and rang a bell so that the fathers could hear, and shouted: ‘It’s Porfyris, Porfyris. Come and greet him and get his blessing. Porfyris is coming in’ [the Athonite term for ‘entering the Holy Mountain’].

There was a rush of footsteps and about forty young monks hurried down the cobblestone path to get the elder’s blessing. Iordanis was worried about the weather and concerned that the boat would overturn because of all the people coming on board. With great geniality and a glad look in his eye, the elder greeted all of them and kissed the hand of each. The same happened at Dionysiou. At Saint Paul’s, the sea was so high that the caique couldn’t make the landing-stage. At New Skete, monks had already come down to the shore, no doubt having been tipped off by a phone call from Grigoriou. The same there. A celebration of love.

The closer we got to the end of [the peninsula of] the Holy Mountain, the wilder the sea became. At Saint Ann’s, the boat made it into the little harbor and Iordanis said: ‘That’s it. Everybody gets off here’. What could we do? We left the boat. Elder Porfyrios didn’t move. Iordanis tied the caique up at its moorings, went back, picked up Elder Porfyrios and took him off the boat. The elder, said: ‘We’ll get there, Iordanis. The weather will improve’. Iordanis answered, ‘In all my time, I’ve  never seen such a storm get better. Father, you know your job and I know mine’. He arranged three or four bits of cloth on a low wall and sat Elder Porfyrios down on them, telling him that he’d let one of the houses near the beach know and they’d look after him. I didn’t leave. I asked Father Fotios: ‘Should I go on foot or should I stay here with you and save myself the effort?’. Father Fotios answered, ‘We’re going on, because the elder says so. You do what you want’. I waited about half an hour, the weather worsened, but the elder didn’t budge from the low wall. Some monks from the surrounding kellia had come and they made him some sage tea. They talked affably and waited for a change in the weather. I was young and impatient and couldn’t wait any longer. I went up to Elder Porfyrios and asked:

‘Father Porfyrios, should I stay with you or go to Elder Efraim’s on foot?’ [Elder (now Saint) Efraim at Katounakia].

‘Wait. We’re going in any case’.

‘Elder the weather’s worsening; Iordanis is shouting his head off. You’ve got somewhere to go, but I’m not a monk. Where will I go if we’re here till nightfall?’ [On the Mountain, visitors aren’t received after it gets dark.]

‘There are two things that trouble you, Vangelis. One is that you eat through your ears (he meant I liked being praised, liked being commended). The other’s that you’re in a hurry. Do whatever God tells you. But we’re going on’.

I thought and thought about it, then picked up my feet, went up all the steps to Saint Ann’s, then made my way to the Daniileï, along the cliff, parallel to the sea. Then I saw the miracle. Iordanis’ caique was sailing on a flat sea. Behind the boat there were billowing waves; in front of it, the sea was like glass. It was like cutting butter with a knife. Although the sky was overcast, shafts of light had broken through, like spotlights, and were shining on the boat as it made its way forward. There were about a dozen dolphins beside the boat. Old Father Porfyrios was sitting at the side of the boat, with his hand trailing in the water, stroking the noses of the dolphins, which were sporting all around. That’s when I realized: ‘That man’s a saint’.

They got to Kavsokalyvia and thereafter he never left the Mountain. Even his bones have been lost- so that ‘his ears don’t feed him’.