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Commemorated on July 14th

St Hellius, and St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain of Athos

Nicodemos of Athos 14th Jul

St Hellius lived and died in the 4th Century. Given over at childhood to a monastery, he was raised in piety, temperance and chastity. Having grown up, he set out into the Egyptian desert, where by incessant ascetic deeds he attained great proficiency in the spiritual life. He was endowed with the gift of clairvoyance, and he knew all the thoughts and disposition of the monks conversing with him. Great faith, simplicity of soul and deep humility allowed St Hellius to command wild animals. One time, when the monk carried a heavy load to the desert monastery and had become very tired, he prayed and called a wild donkey to himself and placed his burden on it.

The donkey meekly carried the load to the place and was set free to return to the wilderness. Another time, when St Hellius needed to cross over a river and there was no boat, he called forth a crocodile from the water and, standing on its back, he happily crossed to the opposite shore. One of the young novices of the monastery, whom St Hellius visited, asked him to take him along into the far desert. St Hellius warned the youth about the great work, exploits and temptations which inevitably beset all the hermits, but since the novice continued fervently to ask, he took him along. On the first night the novice, frightened by terrible visions, in trembling ran to the cave to St Hellius. The monk comforted and calmed him down and ordered him to return. Having secured the cave with the Sign of the Cross, the monk said that the young hermit should not fear, since these apparitions would appear no more. Trusting the word of the saint, the novice decided to remain in solitude and afterwards attained such perfection, that he was granted, like his teacher Hellius, to receive food from an angel. In extreme old age St Hellius peacefully settled into the Heavenly mansions.

St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain of Athos (1749-1809 AD) and St Makarios of Corith (1731-1805 AD) compiled the Philokalia in the eighteenth century. The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by Church Fathers of the Orthodox Christian Church. The word "Philokalia" means love of the beautiful, the exalted, and the excellent. Sts Nikodimos and Makarios collected the text with the view to instruct others in purification, illumination, and perfection. These writings show the way to awaken and develop attention and consciousness through prayer, and constitute "a mystical school of inward prayer".