Saint Savvas

Saint SavvasLife of Saint Savvas of Kalymnos
You became the descendant of Ganou and Chora, great pride for Kalymnos island, our father, blessed Savvas. Because, you crossed the extremely difficult ascetic road and you succeeded. So, ask our God Jesus to save our souls.

Our father,  pious Savvas the New of Kalymnos, was born in 1862 in  Herakleitsa (Ganou Chora of Avdir territory is also mentioned) of eastern Thrace, by poor parents, his father Constantinos, who was a peddler, and his mother Smaragda. He was an only child and upon his baptism he was given the name Vasilios. From a young age he was a believer and pious, as well as a strong supporter of the angelic monastic life. After finishing the compulsory lessons and preserved himself pure from every sin, he did not continue his studies in high school, either because his father did not have the ability or because Vasilios himself was not willing to be further educated. After that, his parents opened a small shop. Vasillios, at the age of 12, discovered every day that the profession he was following was not suitable for him. He, therefore, had to cut the connection he created with this materialistic world and move on to the “sea” of God’s grace. He desired to dedicate his life exclusively to Christ. His mother, as soon as was informed about his desires, assured him that “if you do that, I will die”.

At the tender age of 12, he faces this great questioning. The attraction of God is powerful, just like his internal calling. The «Go away and save yourself» dominated, and so, one historical day, as well as glorious, he put the key of the shop under a rock and went down to the harbor to make his decision come true. Like a deer, he is heading to the fragrant garden of Virgin Mary, the Mount Athos. There, he lives in St. Anne's Skete, where he indulges the first fruits of his holy desires. (According to others, based on stories, he first went to Jerusalem). In this skete, he lived under the pressure of monastic life for 12 years (6 years according to others) and practiced in the arts of hagiography and Byzantine music.

After praying he decides to go to Jerusalem. He passes by his birth town and when he visited his parents, he was recognized by a sign on his forehead. The temptation is present again. His mother tries to stop him. The man with no ownership manages to leave with the help of a rich couple who is heading to the Holy Land. The year 1887 is referred in a document of the head secretary of the homonymous Patriarchate, as the arrival time to Jerusalem. After his pilgrimage to the holy sites, he enters the historical monastery of St. George Hozeva and becomes a novice of it.

After three years of virtuous and holly life at this Monastery he became a monk in 1890. Armed with the holly grace and fortified with the undefeated angelic armor, he was sent by the abbot of the Monastery to Mount Athos at the Holly Skete of Agia Anna, under the guidance of memorable Archbishop Anthimos, to study hagiography. After three years he returns to monastery of St. George Hozeva and in 1902 was ordained a deacon and, one year later, was ordained to the holy priesthood. For one year (1906) he was the priest of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, where he meets Chrisostomos Papadopoulos, his future university professor and Archbishop of Athens and Greece.

Chrisostomos Papadopoulos as the Archbishop of Athens, when referring to Saint Savvas, before he reposed and his holiness was certified, said to his friend Gerasimos Zervos from Kalymnos: “Gerasimos, Keep in mind, father Savvas is a holly man”. In 1907 he returns to monastery of St. George Hozeva and he devotes himself to his intense spiritual exercise regarding the holly task of hagiography.

In 1916, after almost 26 years of living in the Holly Land, he returned to Greece. This way he seals a fine ascetic life, full of spiritual blooming. He left the desert of Jordan – where he lived as a flying eagle, being fed as a bird with a spoonful of wet wheat every day and drinking water from the river – because the Arabs were fighting the blessed ascetic life. Being in Greece he searches for a new place to lead an ascetic life. During the year of his arrival, it seems that he visited the island of Patmos. After staying there for 2 years, he goes to Mount Athos from where he visits Athens to buy hagiography materials. During that period and until he goes to Aegina it seems that he visited the deserted island Paravola and the island of Hydra.

In Athens he meets the acolyte of St. Nectarios, who informs him that Saint Nectarios was looking for him. Based on this fact, it is assumed that the two saints had met before. Therefore, he goes from Athens to Aegina, where he is with St. Nectarios until he is reposed. His life after St. Nectarios contributed greatly to the further spiritual progress of the saint. He became acquainted with the strict ascetic life of St. Nectarios, the struggle of simple men, as well as his undeniable grace, his renowned humbleness and his simplicity. He witnessed his repose, which confirmed God’s favor towards him with the obvious signs of the Holly Myrrh and the fragrance, but also his miracle grace.
In Aegina he remains until the year 1926. He departs for Athens, because a lot of people were coming to the Monastery and the noise disturbs him. In Athens he meets Gerasimos Zervos, who offers him accommodation and finally convinces him to go to Kalymnos.

At  the same year (1926) he arrives in Kalymnos, where after some search-wandering he resides to the Convent of All Saints. At this Monastery, of which he happens to be the founder, the graceful and perceptive Monk father Hierotheos Kourounis had lived an ascetic life. This magnificent minister of God, before his repose, when comforting the nuns said: “after a while my superior will come here”. And indeed, his words became true. Father Savvas, right after his inauguration to the Convent of All Saints, he builds, with the help of Gerasimos Zervos, the cells of the upper floor and starts an intense spiritual life. He makes hagiographies, he conducts the Holly Services, confesses, teaches with his example, helps the widows, the orphans and the poor. He lives in a humble, ascetic way and offers plenty, so that his angelic example to be remembered with tears and emotion by those who met him. They would always remember his grace during the various hardships of their lives. Willing when he was alive, even more willing after his repose.

He was lenient and merciful regarding the sins of others, he would not put up with blaspheme and condemnation. These two disturbed him the most.  His strict ascetic life gave him the fragrance of his body, as well as his illness. His transition was fragrant. This fragrance will come from his tomb during his exhumation. As every human being that is a child of god, St. Savvas also suffered from an illness. He suffered from prostate and a serious stomach disease. He had a surgery for prostate and was cured. When he was told to go to Athens and be treated for the stomach disease, his answer was: “this, my child, will save us, we did nothing else. This is the good thing that will take us to heaven. God is great.” Father Savvas loved all people and strived for their repentance and their return to God. His love was sincere and pure. He wasn't interested in money. He never possessed any money. Anything he earned from hagiography and the holly services, gave it away to the poor, the widows and the orphans. His life was a continuous state of holly obedience. The fact that he agreed to eat rooster meat, when he was seriously ill, during the strict fest of 15 August (at Mount Athos, after the order of his mentor), was indicative of that. This blessed man, for every spiritual problem received information from above and so he was walking on safe road. He had many temptations and ruined many of devil’s traps. One day, specifically on Pure Monday, he locked him in his cell for three days so as not to conduct the holly services. He was fine and blessed by the Lord. He was gentle, forgiving, honest, obedient and compassionate.

He praised the angel on earth and the human on the sky. He was an angel and a human and vice versa. With this way he fulfilled his days on earth until 7 April 1948, when he offered his holly soul to the Lord.  Towards the end of his life, St. Savvas remained in a state of intense prayer and holy contrition. For three days he did not receive anyone. He was at the stage of leaving this world. He gave his last advice and asked for the love and obedience of God. When he was on the point of death, taking his last breath, suddenly he received strength, brought his blessed small hands together and clapped them repeatedly saying his last holy words: "The Lord! The Lord! The Lord,". It was the certification of his metaphysical route. It was the swan song of his inspired by God life. At that time, only few nuns were around his holly figure, a wonderful fighter of faith and pious, a guest of paradise. The heaven recognized his coming and celebrated. This way, the earth offered to the sky this holly figure and the sky accepted this offer. Let ourselves, by imitating at the point possible, the virtues of Saint Savvas  the New, the miracle maker, but also based on his beliefs to be worthy of the Heavenly Kingdom. Amen. 

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