The elder of Mount Athos Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis was canonized – His life and work

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The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate made the decision to register Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis in the canon of the Orthodox Church

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate made the decision to register Elder Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis in the canon of the Orthodox Church.

The Monk Gerasimos the Mikragiannanite (September 5, 1905 – December 7, 1991) and born Anastasios – Athanasios was a contemporary hymn writer, one of the rare cases of hymn writers, that most of his work was immediately used in the liturgical life of the Church.

He was born in Droviani, in the province of Delvinos in Northern Epirus. He learned his first letters in the elementary school of his hometown.

With the end of primary school, the now adolescent Anastasios was about to leave the village environment.

His father had already settled in Piraeus, where he worked. And he himself had to follow him to work near him.

Thus, he was forced to abandon his mother and younger brother.

He initially settled in Piraeus, near his father and aunt.

Then they moved to Athens. In his new residence he continued his studies at the high school.

His zeal for letters is impressive. After high school he continued his studies at a higher school of Greek education.

In Athens he also took care of his spiritual life and went to church regularly.

He himself remembers: “Our parish was Saint Dionysios the Areopagite. We usually went on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, where the old Rizareios School was, in Agios Georgios of Rizareios, because it was close. Nektarios of Pentapolis also worked there repeatedly, whom I saw.”

In Athens he cultivated the thought of becoming a monk and thought of leaving early, before assuming other obligations. And it didn’t take him long to realize his inclination. So he came to Mount Athos on August 15, 1923.

On Mount Athos, he leaves as a cadet in the hermitage of Agia Anna. Specifically in Mikra Agia Anna, in the cell of the Holy Forerunner, having the Asia Minor hieromonk Meletios Ioannidis as an elder.

Here, in this desolate, arid, sharp and barren location of Little Saint Anne, he finds absolute spiritual joy and fulfillment of his life’s dream.

He can now devote himself undividedly to the exercise of the spiritual life and to the study of the sacred ecclesiastical texts.

On October 20, 1924, during the vigil in memory of Saint Gerasimos of Kefallinia, he became a solitary curate, taking the saint’s name.

The monk Gerasimos, fully adapted to his new life, was a model of obedience, humility and every virtue.

Along with performing the daily monastic services and studying, the two monks of the hut, elder and subordinate, worked for their survival as humans.

Elder Meletios knew well and practiced for years the art of making wood-carved seals used in the preparation of offerings for the Divine Liturgy. Close to him, the young monk Gerasimos also learned this art, which he practiced as a friend.

However, what fascinated him was dealing with letters. He tells us about it: “Here, when I came, I cultivated and recapitulated my knowledge. The ancient writers, I satiated them all, I digested them all. I had some books from outside, which I gave to some poor children who visited me from Sykia across the street.”

After the passage of a few years, the elder Meletios leaves for Athens for good, leaving the new monk Gerasimos completely alone.

Below the hut of the Holy Forerunner is the Dormition hut of the Virgin. The ascetic Elder Abimelech lived in it (1965). In 1946, the later Hieromonk Dionysios submitted to him.

Fr. Dionysios was joined by Fr. Gerasimos and later, in 1966, they joined a procession.

The monk Gerasimos becomes the founder of the temple of the holy Fathers Dionysios the orator and Mitrophanous.

In particular, in 1956, in the cave where the two monks asceticized, he built a small naydrium and in 1960 completed it with the austerity.

Elder Gerasimos, among others, was famous for his hospitality, which he also inspired in his subordinates. It is worth mentioning that his ascetic and withdrawn life in no way affected his sociability.

The lay visitors who came to him always left benefited and charmed, as his speech was always careful.

Prudent in his responses, he systematically avoided untimely discussions and chatter; he always sought silence, which he considered “the mother of wise concepts”.

In addition to the laity, the visitors were often clergymen or even monks, who came with the same purpose: to listen to the elder, to benefit spiritually and to learn from his virtuous life.

During his lifetime, he was assigned solitary ministries.

He was a librarian and official of the Sunday school of the hermitage of Agia Anna. As a librarian, he even engaged in the compilation and publication of a catalog of the manuscript codices of the library of the Kyriakos of the Skete.

In this capacity he helped many scholars in finding and obtaining copies of the manuscripts. He himself wrote valuable studies and articles.

The monk Gerasimos Mikrayannanitis is one of the rare cases of hymn writers, that most of his work was immediately used in the liturgical life of the Church.

Thus, most of the work is accessible, despite the fact that only a small part of it has been published. This is because many sequences are widely circulated in typed photocopies.

But he also considers the hymnography itself an extension of prayer, communion with God and the saints: “I have the saint in front of me. That’s why I don’t want to communicate with anyone. Hymnography, this spiritual work, is a union of the soul after God; it is a prayer of wonder; it is a meditation of the mind; it is a secret theory; it is a mystery, which is not interpreted and is not externalized with reasons. Hymnography is the underlying philosophy. It does not express itself in these words. One has to try it to feel it.”

He passed away on December 7, 1991. His rich hymnographic work is estimated at more than 2000 sacred services.

This great Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ was awarded a silver medal by the Academy of Athens on December 28, 1968.

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