Today is the feast of St. Nicholas Planas of Athens, a very recent saint who reposed in 1932. The life of Papa Nicholas is beautiful and I encourage you to read the entire thing. Here are just a few excerpts:
He was compassionate, and had no care for worldly things or estates. Night and day he was absorbed in divine worship, and with his small parish of St. Panteleimon in Neo Kosmo which was comprised of thirteen families. The people loved him. His simplicity, his island piety, his kindness, his chastity, his lack of love for money, drew everyone to divine worship. Everyone wanted him to bless their homes, their stores. And he ran everywhere joyously. From aristocratic homes down to the poorest homes, he never kept a drachma on him. The poor always waited outside the church for him to distribute whatever he had in his pocket.
However, a certain priest without a parish of his own, in cooperation with the council members of St. Panteleimon, kicked him out of his parish and sent him to the Church of Saint John, (“the Hunter” as they called it then) in Vouliagimeni. The new parish was very poor and was comprised of eight families. His payment as a priest was one piece of meat from the fattened lamb of Meatfare Sunday or Christmas. This did not brother him, however, because fasting was most important in his life. So long as he had a church in which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, he was happy.
His having been kicked out of St. Panteleimon, however, bothered him a lot. One night, as he was leaving St. John to go home, he was crying on the road. The place was deserted at that hour. Suddenly he saw on his path a young lad said to him, “Why are you crying, Father?”….
“I’m crying, my child, because they kicked me out of St. Panteleimon’s.”
“Don’t be said, Father. I am always with you.”
“Who are you, my child?”
“I am Panteleimon, who lives in Neo Kosmo.”
And immediately he vanished from in front of him.
Every year, on the feast of St. Panteleimon, he would go to the Saint’s church in Neo Kosmo and do a vigil. One year, as he himself related, he was sick and had a fever. His relative did not allow him to go for his customary vigil. But because of the love which Father Nicholas had for the Saint, he went anyway. “That night,” he himself said,
“after the Liti, exhausted, I leaned on the edge of the Holy Table. In the delirium of the fever I saw the Saint in front of me, young and vigorous, holding a small glass full of medicine, and he told me, ‘Drink it, my Father, to become well.’ I took it from the hand and drank it and became completely well. The fever left me. For a whole week out through the Royal Gate and said, ‘My children, I was very sick tonight, and at this moment Saint Panteliemon gave me medicine and I drank and became well.’ Everyone believed it and knelt down, glorifying the Saint.”
For fifty consecutive years he celebrated Liturgy daily from 8.a.m. til 2.p.m., in snows, in revolutions. Not even with the invasion of the Anglo-French in 1917 did he interrupt his series of Liturgies. In the narrow streets of the Acropolis at 2:00 in the afternoon in July, he would celebrate Liturgy in small chapels, as the sweat settled on the sacred vestments of this true laborer in Christ’s vineyard.
HIS “BILLS AND CONTRACTS”
He commemorated names for whole hours. First, departed patriarchs, metropolitans, priests, deacons and the …. Naxiotes, and the Athenians. The names they gave him, he commemorated for many months. Every now and then his spiritual children, to give him some rest, would take the old papers and secretly rip them up, because he took them with him to all the churches. He would place them in two large handkerchiefs and tie them up like a type of package, and place them on his hip. When he would arrive home and take them off his hip–because he had two packages, one with names and the other with holy relics–they would ask him.
“What are these packages?”
And he would respond, “My bills and my contracts.”
“Aren’t you tired, Father? When will you rest?”
He would cross his hands and humbly respond, “I shall chant to my God as long as I live.”