The much beloved Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos was recognized as a Saint by a unanimous decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople on January 13. Elder Paisios was a Sinai hermit from 1962 to 1964, when a chronic pulmonary condition forced his return to Mt. Athos due to the harsh climate at his hermitage.
His Eminence Damianos I, Abbot of St. Catherine’s and Archbishop of Sinai, Pharan, and Raitho, had close ties with Elder Paisios over many decades, and read the prayer for the departure of his soul during his last moments in this life, when visitors were no longer allowed in to see the elder.
As a Sinai monk living in St. Epistimi’s hermitage (photo below), Saint Paisios devoted himself to the life of traditional Orthodox asceticism, merging his unceasing prayer with the pristine silence of the Sinai gorges as an offering of love to God, and to his brethren in “the family of Adam" as he dedicated the proceeds of his handwork to the profound poverty of the local Bedouin. The fathers recall that he also worked very hard exploiting his carpentry skills within the monastery, and in pruning its extensive olive groves. Gifted artistically, the ascetic elder left an exquisitely detailed woodcarving of Mount Sinai, complete with steps to the top, which is lovingly preserved by the Sinai monks.
“When you lack human consolation…that is when you find divine consolation.”
Elder Paisios was deeply influenced by the time he spent in Sinai and always wished to return, said Archbishop Damianos. The Sinai brotherhood was building a new cell for the Elder before his final illness, when he had planned to return to Sinai in hopes of being able to sustain the milder climate of its lower environs.
An Apostle to the world whose enlightened counsels and holy prayers directed countless souls to the peaceful harbor of reconciliation with God, Saint Paisios reposed in the Lord on July 12, 1994 – according to the Old Calendar followed in his monastic abodes on the Holy Mountains of Sinai and Athos, June 29, the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy and Glorious Chiefs of the Apostles.