Bishop Gerasimus of Abydos is Judged for His Trimmed Beard; Allowing His Sanctity to be Revealed

Bishop Gerasimus Papadopoulos of Abydos

The visit of Bishop Gerasimus to the Holy Mountain coincided with the feast day of the main church of the St. Anna Skete. As a bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a former monk of Mt. Athos, a few of the old monks who remembered him, particularly the monks of Fr. Chrysostom Kartsonas, naturally, wanted him to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the great festival of St. Anna. Bishop Gerasimus, however, because he had been living in America had a short, trimmed beard. This prompted some of the monks of the Skete to oppose his liturgizing because, they claimed, the people would be scandalized seeing him with a trimmed beard. When they clearly intimated their perplexity over this matter, Bishop Gerasimus dismissed it, giving it no thought at all. He simply went and stood in a back corner of the church as if nothing had happened, and he remained there from the beginning of the all night vigil until late the next day when the Divine Liturgy was celebrated. There, alone, without any distinctive signs, a stranger among strangers, he recalled his old monastic experiences and prayed as much as he could. It is the custom during the vigil of the feast day of St. Anna for the hesychast ascetics and hermit monks, who live a very austere monasticism in poor, isolated kalyves, far from the Sketes and Monasteries, to gather silently in the central church. After the liturgy, one of these ascetic monks approached two leading monks of the Skete and asked them: “Who was that clergyman who stood in that corner stasidi?” They explained to him that he was Bishop Gerasimus of Abydos, who had not been permitted to liturgize because he had trimmed his beard. Then the ascetic monk crossed himself and told them: “What have you done? How could you? All night long I could see over his head a light like a dove, while over your heads there appeared something like little devils!”

* This excerpt is from (and slightly editied) “Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos: The Spiritual Elder of America” edited by Fr. Peter A. Chamberas

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