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Παρασκευή, 10 Νοεμβρίου 2017

Julia Bridget Hayes, αγιογράφος και θεολόγος από τη Ν. Αφρική που ζει εδώ και χρόνια στην Ελλάδα. For those wondering why I'm so crazy about my Pappou - St Nektarios...






For those wondering why I'm so crazy about my Pappou - St Nektarios...



I could literally write a book of all the miracles St Nektarios has done for me, which is why I call him "Pappou" ("Grandpa"). During my first years in Greece when I was studying for my theology degree I only when once to venerate him in Aegina and to be honest I didn't really understand why everyone was so crazy about him (There is a story of a yiayia who said, "Christ is good, but He's got nothing on Nektarios! Lol).


Anyway after I finished my degree I went back to South Africa for two years, but wanted to come back to Greece to do my masters. I had to have a letter from my bishop, who promised to send it...then didn't, so I figured it wasn't God's will to came back. In the meantime Ι was catechizing some high school girls who were preparing for baptism. I am godmother to one of them who at the time was interested in studying theology. She asked me to choose her baptismal name. I told her that I couldn't choose, but that I will pray that the Saint who wants her will reveal it.



After our discussion I thought that it would be nice if it was a saint from Africa, or if it was a saint who is a theologian or a saint from Greece so that if she came here to study she would be able to venerate them. I opened up a calendar with an alphabetical list of saints and took note of a few names, but none of them really spoke to me until I got to Nektarios.
I went and read his life in the synaxarion and felt that something was going on. After I read his paraklesis it hit me like a lightning bolt: He's a saint from Africa (Metropolitan of Pentapolis), he studied theology at the University of Athens and his monastery is in Greece! He was all three things I had thought of! So she was baptised Nektaria, but I also had the feeling that he was not just going to be her patron, but mine too.
Since I'd given her his name, I though it was finally time to read the book 


"The Saint of our Century" (A must read!). At that time I was still waiting for the bishop's letter and one day I was thinking, " How am I going to go to Athens with no money and no where to stay". At that moment I went to my room and picked up the book at the next chapter and was blown away! Saint Nektarios had just been kicked out of Alexandria and was on the ship going to Athens wondering how he would go there with no money and nowhere to stay!!! So I entrusted the entire matter into his hands. Just when it seemed that it was impossible to return to Greece because the bishop hadn't sent the letter to the ministry where I would receive the scholarship and the deadline had passed 2 months earlier, he suddenly sent the letter to me.



A friend informed the ministry and they told me to send the letter because I had the scholarship! SO I sent the letter, but I still had to find out when the deadline was to apply for the masters entrance exams...a friend found out that the deadline had past two days earlier and there was nothing I could do. I phoned the foreign ministry and thanked them for the scholarship, but told them it was too late to apply. The man told me "Don't listen to them! They don't know what they are talking about! You are coming!" For the next for months I was in limbo, not knowing from one day to the next if I was going to be told I had to leave for Greece. I missed the entire first semester. Eventually a week before Christmas I was told I had to be in Greece by 10 January. I had no money to buy the ticket or to bring with me. The Sunday before Christmas I took whatever icons I had painted to church and whereas I hadn't sold a single icon during the four months of waiting in agony...



I sold most of my icons and the money was the exact amount needed for the ticket! I booked a ticket for 7 January, but I still had no money to take with me. On 5 January someone phoned me asking to commission an icon and I told him it was impossible as I was leaving in two days, but that I had a couple of icons available. He asked me to bring them to church the next day (Theophany) and he bought my most expensive icon. Just as I got into the car to leave a women came running up and said "Wait! I want to buy the other icon!" And so the day before I left I had money to bring with me. Within a week of arriving I found a room just a five minute walk away from the Theology School (something impossible to find in Athens in January!) And that is how St Nektarios brought me to Athens with no money and nowhere to stay! And that was just the first of many impossible things my Pappou has done for me!


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