The Garden of the Holy Spirit:
Elder Iakovos of Evia
(By S G Papadopoulos)
Reviewed by Emmanuel N. Stamatiou
1. Brief Biography
Born in Livisi on 5 November 1920. Died in Evia at the Monastery of St David on 21 November 1991.
He was driven out of Livisi with his family in 1925 by the Turks and settled in Faraklia, a small village in Northern Evia.
In 1947 he was called up for military service.
He worked as a labourer in his father’s fields and others fields until he was ordained a priest on 19 December 1951.
Elder Iakovos’s miracles are far too many to mention in this brief book review. Suffice to say that:
He had acquired such purity of heart and mind through his ascesis and prayer, that he could foresee the great evils that were approaching.
In 1940 the Theotokos appeared to him in his sleep and told him where to build her shrine. She also appeared to him in hospital to tell him he would get well.
St Paraskevi, St David, St John the Russian and Archangels Michael and Gabriel and many other Saints and Angels appeared to him and warned him of forecoming events and carried out his petition.
He lived a strict life of fasting and prayer and the demons fought him fiercely.
Often Angels and Saints concelebrated the Liturgy with him, “in sanctuaries that human words cannot describe”.
In 1958 his sister Anastasia died. He saw in a revelation and in a vision his sister being in the beloved abode of St John the Russian. He said that she encountered no difficulty on the way up, nor in front of the Judgment Seat of Christ. St John and St David were standing by as her escorts.
He said, “The Christian leaves the futility of the present life behind and enters into the heavenly harbour, where no waves can trouble him and shipwreck can occur. There are no enemies and persecutors there, no sorrows, pains or afflictions can get in. He associates with friendly and exceptional powers, enjoys beholding closely the face of the Saviour and co-dwells in His eternal homeland, in the most glorious house of the Father.
He commemorated a great multitude of persons, even monk Anthimos who ridiculed him during his lifetime. Once he asked God to reveal to him where Anthimos had gone after his death. He greeted him and Anthimos told him, “Here I am. When you commemorate me, a ray passes through and I can see a little.”
He asked God to help him understand the meaning of the Lord’s words: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” And God did answer him. Elder Iakovos told the monks that, “Yesterday, I saw I was in heaven in a beautiful garden. There were violets of various colours as well as numerous other flowers. I was standing in the air, above the ground. A monk in a cassock next to me was showing me some nice houses and said, “Go ahead Iakovos.” But how could I? There was no path and I would trample down those exquisite flowers. A second monk in a cassock told me, “Don’t worry, this kind can suffer no harm. Go ahead! “So I walked on and indeed, the flowers suffered nothing.”
On 10 February 1989 he prophesized to Fr Batholemew, the Metropolitan of Halcedon that he would become Patriach. In 1991 the Turkish Government was considering removing the names of the Synodical Metropolitans from the candidates’s list. Fr Iakovos prayed to St David to go to Turkey and meddle up the Turks with the papers and to see that Fr Batholomew was elected Patriach.
Fr Iakovos helped many people recover from illnesses. Through his prayers many patients suffering from cancer and other incurable diseases got well. Lost items of great value were recovered. Disturbed families regained their peace. Possessed people were freed. He ascribed all his miracles to St David, his collaborator and mediator to God.
He could not offer theological explanations, but by his humble demeanor he demonstrated his direct living contact with God. He never entertained any thoughts about preaching, but he was himself a living sermon. His words and counsels were plain and practical – no analyses or elaboration. He used short phrases, often elliptic, even incomplete. However, this does not mean that his words were in any way deficient. On the contrary, they possessed divine power and penetrating ability that comforted and enlightened the hearts of his listeners. The grace filling the Elder’s soul imparted in his words a divine breath that touched the human soul. Anyone who got to know him, could see in him a manifestation of God’s presence and divine energies on earth.
His “teaching” was basically a recounting of the miracles and signs performed, as he said by St David and St John the Russian. It was not organized along lecture lines. Only at the end of his narration, after describing how some people had come to repent, how others had become well through the power of St David’s holy relics, would he give some special advice to each case.
The Elder used to say, “My heart is like a garden”. He had reached such a degree of spiritual dispassion that his heart became the garden of the Holy Spirit. Despite his many illnesses and sufferings and his distress over others misfortunes, he remained joyful and cautioned everyone about depression. He knew that depression was the world’s most painful disease.
The Blessed Elder Iakovos’s tomb lies at the southern side of the Monastery of St David in Evia. He continues to watch over the life of the monastery and supports the brotherhood. His apparitions are countless. Many call upon him and the Elder hastens to help them. Many who are sick are healed and many find help in their spiritual and material problems. He comforts everyone.
Elder Iakovos belongs to a special group of contemporary Elders such as Paisios and Porphyrios and others who were responsible for a resurgence of faith among those who knew them personally and through their spiritual teachings. They are a living proof that the Orthodox Church is alive and continues to produce Saints.
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