Nicodemus the Hagiorite or Nicodemus
of the Holy Mountain (Greek: Ὅσιος Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης; 1749 – July 14,
1809) is a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He was an ascetic monk,
mystic, theologian, and true philosopher. His life's work was a revival of
traditional Christian practices and patristic literature.
This Blessed Saint wrote ascetic
prayer literature and influenced the rediscovery of hesychasm, a method of
contemplative prayer from the Byzantine period.
He is very well known for his work
with Macarius of Corinth on the anthology of monastic spiritual writings known
as The Philokalia, as well as for his compilation of canons known as the
Pedalion or The Rudder which he co-wrote with a hieromonk named Agapios
With Macarios of Corinth, Nicodemus
was responsible for the compilation and publishing of The Evergetinos,
thoroughly reviewing a vast collection of materials from a number of other
collections of sayings of monastics and others, ranging from the well-known
works of St. John Cassian and Palladius, to the anonymously produced
Apophthegmata collections, but including materials also from hagiographies,
menologia, and other, unspecified and now-lost sources. Assembling, collecting,
and editing a number of manuscripts scattered among the libraries of Mount
Athos, the Holy Mountain. Nicodemus was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarch
of Constantinople in 1955.
Nicodemus was born Nicholas
Kallivroutsis (Νικόλαος Καλλιβρούτσης) in 1749 on the Greek island of Naxos,
which was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. According to his biographer,
he was possessed of "great acuteness of mind, accurate perception,
intellectual brightness, and vast memory", qualities which were readily
apparent to those who furthered him along in his learning.
He passed from the tutelage of his
parish priest to that of Archimandrite Chrysanthos, who was the brother of
Cosmas. From there he made his way to Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey), where he
studied at the Evangelical School. Here he studied theology, as well as ancient
Greek, Latin, French, and Italian.
Persecution from the Turks, who ruled
most of the Greek world at the time, cut his schooling short, and he returned
to Naxos in 1770.
He studied at Smyrna but was forced
to abandon his studies during a time of Ottoman persecution. Instead he entered
the Dionysiou monastery on Mount Athos in 1775.
Nicholas made the acquaintance of
Macarius of Corinth a few years after returning home, beginning a lifelong
friendship. It was shortly thereafter that he decided to embrace the monastic
life, following the example of three monks he had encountered, Gregory, Niphon,
and Arsenios. These men had come from Mount Athos, which had been an important
center of monasticism for over seven hundred years, and persuaded Nicholas to
go there as well. He arrived there in 1775, at age 26.
Upon being tonsured a monk, Nicholas'
name was changed, as is the custom for those who had abandoned the world, to
Nicodemus. He was initiated into the practice of hesychia, a method of prayer
involving inner stillness, controlled breathing which cannot be man made but
actually given in coooperation with true prayer… repetition of the "Jesus
Prayer" (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner).
Nicodemus aligned himself with the monks known as Kollyvades, who sought a
revival of traditional Orthodox practices and patristic literature, and he
spent the remainder of his life at work translating and publishing those works.
He also composed many original books of his own.
He died on July 14, 1809 on Mount
Athos and was canonized by the Church of Greece on May 31, 1955. His feast day
is 14 July.
In cooperation with Macarius of
Corinth, Nicodemus compiled the Philokalia, which became an important work on
monastic spirituality. It contains some of the teachings of many of the ancient
Nicodemus also published modern
editions of other theological writings, such as those of Symeon the New
Theologian and Gregory Palamas. In addition, he wrote original works, such as
the Pedalion (also known as The Rudder), a treatise on Eastern Orthodox canon
law, and the Exomologetarion, a guide for confessors.
Another of his famous works is the
Enchiridion of Counsels (or "Handbook of Spiritual Counsel"), written
by Nicodemus at the suggestion of his cousin Hierotheos, who had recently been
made Bishop of Euripos.
This handbook on the religious life,
aimed at clergy and lay Christians alike, continues to be influential on Greek
spirituality to this day to those who follow.
The work has been described as a
theological-ethical tract that displays both deep psychological insight and a
keen scientific mind.
He was not ignorant of the Western
spiritual writers, and even published reworked versions of the Spiritual
Exercises (Πνευματικά γυμνάσματα) of Ignatius of Loyola and The Spiritual
Combat (βιβλίον καλούμενον· Αόρατος Πόλεμος) of Lorenzo Scupoli.
The term Philokalia (φιλοκαλία) (love
of the good), used for the texts, aims to enshrine the history of the Jesus
Prayer (the Prayer of the heart), and the spiritual practice of this, called
It is this love of beauty that
revives and gives faith to the hopeless.
The history of the prayer begins with
the earliest fathers including Anthony the Great, and the text ends with
The title conveys the contemplative
tradition, in that it teaches understanding of the inner or mystical Kingdom of
God within each person.
The spirit of God is an ember and one
must cultivate the ember into an open fire.
This perpetual fire burns in the
heart, in love for all things, which is to share in the energy of God, which is
love. (Leviticus 9:24).
It is within the Philokalia that one
learns how to properly navigate the passions and depravity of existence called
The object of contemplation is
"the love of beauty" or infinite beauty, which is God.
For if existence were truly evil it could
neither contain nor express beauty.
This expression conveys the truth
about the divine (ascetic) life and purpose which the heart learns through
practice of the Prayer of the Heart, called Hesychasm.
God in his energies is love. God is
also the source of all that is truly beautiful, resplendent with divine glory.
It is this beauty, held from within one’s heart for and to our Lord Jesus
Christ Son of God our Father.
It is wise to go as far as back as
you can to find a published copy that is closest to the original…unfortunately
as recently as 2016 and many teachings, canons were removed which was and is a
very grave error with our overall economia, economy within what is truly
happening, spiritually on this earth.