by the Blessed Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi
K. Koutsouvelis from Kionio recounted that a certain man from Anogi had been nurturing a bitter hatred for a fellow villager of his, for reasons of honor. Unable to free himself from this passion, he was thinking about taking the man’s life and was already planning in his mind how to carrying it out. No one suspected his intentions, and perhaps even the intended victim had no idea of his dis¬position. One day he was informed that his enemy was in Stavros, and that during the night he would be returning to Anogi. He saw this as a suitable opportunity to wait in ambush in a hidden place, and the moment the man passed by, he would shoot him with his gun.
While blessed Papoulakis was praying for the unfortu¬nate state of all humanity, he was informed by Divine Grace about this man’s plan and immediately set off to meet and restrain him. Walking quietly and carefully, the Elder silently and suddenly approached the would-be murderer, who was poised with his finger on the trigger. Having disarmed him, he gave him a severe reprimand, reminding him of the con¬sequences of murder in both the present and the future life. As soon as he brought him to his senses, he told him they were going home. He did not take him, however, to his own home, but to the home of his enemy, whom he had narrow¬ly missed killing. At this meeting, with fatherly concern and true affection, the blessed peacemaking Elder brought about their reconciliation; afterwards, he instructed that a meal be prepared. Thus, through the miraculous intervention of Papoulakis, a lasting peace was restored between enemies whose differences would have been resolved with death.
Katerina C. Paizi and L. Ventouras from Vathy relat¬ed that during the year 1848 a great famine struck Ithaki, particularly in the outlying regions of the island. They milled whatever they could find: legumes, nuts, wild broad beans, and whatever else seemed suitable to alleviate their hunger. Then, against all hope, a vessel from Galaxeidi docked at Ithaki bearing a cargo of maize corn. Papoulakis was eager to pay for it himself in order to share it out among the people. This intervention of the holy Elder was primari¬ly intended to block the traders’ craving to buy the produce in order to ruthlessly exploit the people, especially the poor, in the black market. He then notified the people that each person should bring a container in order to receive a portion of the corn; this process continued for about a week. As soon as the distribution finished, the captain asked for his money, but unfortunately Papoulakis had not yet managed to collect it. Consequently, the captain pressed charges against the Elder with the police, who berated him severely, consid¬ering his actions as fraud. With deep humility, the pious Elder asked for a slight deferment, which was granted him. He sent letters to various friends of his and, as an Athonite, to the monastery of his repentance, as well as to the other Athonite abbots, seeking their help. He soon gathered the required amount and gave proof of his fatherly care and providence at the appropriate moment when the poor peo¬ple needed protection. When he received the money, the ship’s captain asked forgiveness for his petulance, and at that same moment a strong earth tremor occurred.
D. Raftopoulos from Kionio related that in 1867, on the 7th of February, Papoulakis was a guest at the home of D. Raftopoulos in Kionio. That night, he rose from his sleep in an alarmed state. He woke the woman of the house and informed her that a severe trial, some great mis¬fortune, was on its way. He prompted her to light a fire and to incense the house, and instructed that all should begin to pray. Everyone immediately complied with Papoulakis’ instruction and prayed as he was able. Around dawn, a major earthquake occurred on Ithaki and Kefallinia (Cephalonia), which continued to recur until July with great damage and destruction in the area.
Efstathios Karatzis (Trakalos) from Kionio described how Papoulakis saved three shipwrecked men with his boldness before God. He prophesied their res¬cue to their relatives, who had given them up for dead and were already holding memorial services for them. The blessed Elder prophesied that they were alive and on Malta, and that the British newspapers would be writing about their rescue, which indeed happened. A few days later, they returned to Ithaki alive and unharmed.
Dedomenikos of Vathy recounted that a man from Anogi had a strange habit that he main¬tained scrupulously, to the detriment of his soul. He kept it secret, however, never letting anyone learn of this activity of his. Having a resentful character, he kept a detailed record in a notebook of anyone who had ever wronged him — accord¬ing to his judgment — in order to take revenge when the opportunity would present itself. But this did not escape the clairvoyant Elder. One day Papoulakis visited him at his home, and the man welcomed him with joy. The discreet Elder began counseling him about love and depicting for him the destruction that results from resentment and revenge. At certain points during his admonition, he revealed the man’s evil intentions and mentioned the notebook he was keeping. Hearing these revelations, the fellow was shaken, because no one had known about these things. The Elder thus persuad¬ed him to destroy the notebook, replacing it instead with love.
Georgios Paizis, a public secretary of Kionio, related that one of the final things that the ever-memo¬rable Papoulakis achieved, with the help of Divine Grace, was a reconciliation with his own bitter and lifelong enemy, a certain G. Tsapralis. Indifferent by character and caught up in the maze of his business ventures, the man did not like the blessed Elder and influenced the bishop of the area at that time, Gavriil, to exile Papoulakis to his monastery. His perse¬cutor’s wife Eriphili, however, was a pious and faithful woman who esteemed the Elder. When the Elder was approaching his end, a multitude of people drew near him with tears to receive his blessing and to assist him with what¬ever they could. The Elder declined all their offers, saying that he was awaiting death and that there was nothing more that he needed. To everyone he was continuously bestowing blessing and prayers. As soon as Eriphili, the wife of the merchant Tsapralis, hastened with devotion to take his bless¬ing, he spoke to her about kindness and, at the same time, asked what was happening with the boat of their nephew
Kravaris. The woman responded, «The ship has been lost, Elder; moreover, we believe that he himself went down with it, which has left all of us in deep grief.» «No, my daughter,» Papoulakis told her, «the ship is safe and will soon arrive in the harbor, but I will then no longer be in this life. At that hour you will be taking me for my burial.» Then the people asked him what they could bring him, and he replied with a winsome smile, «If I had an apple, I would eat it.»
Everyone was wondering where an apple could be found at such a time of the year — during February. Bear in mind that at that time they were not able to store fruit as they do today. Mrs. Eriphili remembered that, more than a year before, she had saved nine apples in a drawer, but doubted whether one of them would still be in good condition. She set off for home and told her husband about this and about the prediction regarding the ship. This callous and implaca¬ble detractor of Papoulakis then said to his wife, «If you find a good apple then I’ll believe that he’s a holy man, and I’ll pay him homage.» Mrs. Eriphili indeed opened her cabinet and found all the apples spoiled that she had saved — except for one, which was as red and juicy as if it had just been picked from the tree. With great joy she showed it to her husband, and the two of them set off to see Papoulakis. With a trem¬bling hand the Elder took the apple and said with compunc¬tion, «The things which are impossible with men are possi¬ble with God» (Lk. 18:27). When he saw his lifelong persecutor appear in the doorway, he said with a joyful voice, «Welcome, Captain Georgis.»
Filled with emotion, his former enemy was transformed into a devout admirer and contritely asked forgiveness for all his behavior. The clairvoyant Elder had prayed intently to this end; thus he received with fatherly affection his former detractor as a guileless sheep that had returned to the fold of repentance. He considered this accomplishment of Divine Grace to be the final triumph of his lifelong spiritual effort toward the salvation of his «neighbor.»
After farewells and devout reverences of many faithful who sensed the Elder’s impending passing, he bestowed his final admonitions and surrendered his spirit into the hands of God. During the funeral procession with his holy remains, the ship of Nicholas Kravaris arrived in the harbor, just as the Elder had predicted.
Margarita Moraiti related that once her aunt’s mother, Charikleias Priovolou, was traveling down by foot from Lefki, carrying her sick little child in a crib on her head, in order to take him to the doctor in Ithaki. On the way she met Papoulakis, who asked her where she was going. «I’m taking the child to the doctor, my dear Papoulakis, because he’s very sick.» Papoulakis made the sign of the Cross over him and said, «Your child doesn’t have anything wrong with him,» and indeed he became complete¬ly well.
she continued to welcome Papoulakis without mentioning anything about it to him, and as usual would always prepare a meal for him. The situation was revealed to Papoulakis, by the Grace of God, and he told Garoupho, «Don’t let this bother you; and Mitsalou who is slandering us will find ‘the karponi [a bad pimple] in her nose, and no one will be able to greet and kiss her because of the stench.» And in fact it happened just as the Saint said it would.
Stamatoula Griva from Perahori relates that once when the elderly Mrs. Linardena was cooking greens, Papoulakis asked that she save some for him. The elderly woman readily agreed to fulfill the Elder’s wish, but she told him with embarrassment that she had no oil. «Take a look and see;» Papoulakis told her, «perhaps there is some left in the jar.» Though she responded that she had emptied out the vessel and washed it, the holy man once again prompted her to go and take another look, trusting in God. When she did in fact take another look and found the vessel full of oil, she marveled at the man’s boldness before God. Papoulakis instructed her not to reveal this to anyone until after his death.
To be continued…