In recent years we transfer more and more people from Thessaloniki Airport (SKG) to Souroti. They are tourists who visit the Monastery of St. John the Theologian or the Monastery of Paisios as they use to call it, where the grave of St. Paisios is located. Most of them are coming from Russia, Romania, Serbia, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. But let's see why the transfer to St. Paisios Monastery has been so popular.
St Paisios (Arsenios Eznepidis) or Elder Paisios for some people was born on 25 July 1924 in Pharasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor. After the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, his family settled in the town of Konitsa in Epirus (northwestern Greece). Having completed his elementary education, young Arsenios worked as a carpenter. He was drafted in the army in 1945, during the civil war in Greece, and served as a radio operator.
After the end of his military service and having provided for his sisters’ future, he left for Mount Athos in 1950 to become a monk. He went to the Skete of St. Panteleimon at the cell of the Entrance of the Holy Theotokos, where Father Cyril (the future abbot of Koutloumousiou Monastery) resided, and then was sent to the Monastery of Esphigmenou. He was a novice there for four years, after which he was tonsured a monk in 1954 he was given the name Averkios.
In 1958, the Elder was asked to leave Mount Athos and go to Stomio in Konitsa (his home town) to help and assist the faithful in the area against protestant proselytism.
In 1962, for spiritual reasons he departed for Sinai where he stayed for two years at the cell of saints Galaktion and Epistimi.
In 1962, for spiritual reasons he departed for Sinai, where he stayed at the cell of saints Galaktion and Epistimi and spiritually nurtured many people in the area. During the two years he stayed there he became beloved of the Bedouins.
He returned to Mt. Athos in 1964 and stayed at the Skete of Iviron before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. In 1966 he had an operation removing part of his lungs. It was during this time of his stay at the hospital that his long friendship with the then young sisterhood of St. John the Theologian in Souroti began. During his operation he needed a large amount of blood. A group of novice nuns from the convent donated as much blood as he needed. After his recovery he was most grateful to the nuns and offered his assistance in every way he could to help them build their monastery and stayed by their side until his death by giving instructions for the proper functioning of the convent.
The famous Elder Paisios
While living in Mount Athos he became very popular not only in the monastery community but in the outside world as well. The reason for his popularity was that he couls communicate with people in a unique way. He helped everyone who visited him and tried to give solution to their problems through his advise and consolation. Through the years his reputation got bigger and bigger and more people were visiting him from all the cornerns of the world.
On October 5, 1993 he left his beloved Mount Athos for the last time. While in Thessaloniki he was diagnosed with cancer that needed immediate treatment. After the operation he stayed some time recovering in the hospital and was then transferred to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian at Souroti. On July 11, 1994, he received Holy Communion for the last time. On Tuesday, July 12, he peacefully rendered his soul to God. He was buried, according to his wishes, at the Monastery.