Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fr. Eusebius Vittis (+2009)

NOTE: The following article was produced after the repose of Fr. Eusebius. It is a translation from Greek, and will serve to briefly introduce this inspiring theologian and contemporary spiritual father. The intention is to post bits of his work on this blog over a period of time, with the eventual goal of more extensive translations. God-willing the life and humble words of Fr. Eusebius will serve as a refreshing breeze, encouraging those of us living in the world, towards a deeper love for Christ and a love “in Christ” (as Fr. Eusebius puts it) for our neighbor!

Fr. Eusebios Vittis (+December, 2009)

A simple man, distinguished and humble, learned and possessing many spiritual gifts; one who had experiences similar to the Fathers of the Church and divinely enlightened; a teacher who dedicated his life to the salvation of the soul of his fellow man.

This is how his disciples characterize hieromonk Father Eusebios Vittis, who reposed at the age of 82, in his hesychastirion (skete) in Faya Petra of Sidirokastro (Greece), where he spent the final years of his life in prayer. His desire was that his death would remain unknown until his burial, and for his funeral to be performed by a simple cleric and one lay person, without anyone else present. The Church chose, however, to bid him farewell as a man of such uniqueness so deserved. The service for the departed (η εξόδιος ακολουθία) was performed at the dependency of the Athonite Monastery of Grigoriou, in the church of the Dormition in Stavropolis, and was presided over by the Metropolitan Barnabus of Neapolis, Metropolitan Makarios of Siderokastro, and Metropolitan Meletios of Koulouez. Although the funeral was not announced, crowds of people flocked to the church to bid the spiritual instructor a final farewell. Afterwards, he was laid to rest in the hesychastirion of Fayas Petras, where for the first time, the presence of women was allowed.

“Fr. Eusebios was an attraction to thousands of souls of every class; he was a spiritual father who was recognized throughout all of his life by scholarly people,” describes Mr. Stilianos Kemetzetzidis, owner of the publishing house “Orthodox Κipseli,” disciple of the hieromonk and publisher of some of his books. “He was very humble. He did not want his name to be put on any of his books and he signed them with a pseudonym "Kexri" (translation: millet seed), signifying something "unimportant." With great effort I convinced him to allow us to publish his name in his books. He did not allow himself to be photographed, nor did he ever talk about himself. He also did not want to take a financial share in his books; money did not interest him. He had both divine and acquired gifts,” says Mr. Kemetzetzidis.

The news of his falling asleep spread to his disciples and throughout many countries abroad, where his charitable acts had effected so many. “I came from Romania. We are interested in translating his book,” mentions Mr. Ovidios Lazaresku.

Biographical Note

The hieromonk Eusebios Vittis came from Ptolemida. He began his priestly work as a clergyman in Sweden. The Holy Hesychastirion (Skete) of St. Nicholas in Ratvik, Sweden is entirely his own work. There he withdrew in 1973, with the aim of devoting himself to prayer, meditation and writing. Fr. Eusebios kept the Athonite schedule, and as recorded in the bulletin of the Metropolis of Sweden and all Scandinavia (1979), the monastery was seen throughout the years as being “the sleepless lamp of the Metropolis of Sweden and a place of spiritual healing for the faithful.” The visitors of the holy hesychastirion found comfort, rest for the soul, and the road leading toward salvation. In 1980 Fr. Eusebios returned to Greece, upon the exhortation of his spiritual father.

A great and distinguished theologian, a man of humility and divine enlightenment, a tireless writer knowledgeable of many foreign languages and translator of ascetic texts, a respected confessor, a lover of patristic studies, and a hesychast, Fr. Eusebios drew thousands of faithful people to him throughout his lifetime from all parts of Greece and Cyprus. “Under his epitrahilion* many people found rest, were revitalized and found meaning in life,” says the nun-abbess Epiharis, who lives at the monastery that Fr. Eusebios built using the offerings of the faithful, in Siderokastro; and she knew him during all of the years of his ministry.


*a priestly vestment, but in this case symbolic for the spiritual fatherhood, authority and direction of the priest

Translation © M. Tishel 2010

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