Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (+1994), the temptation of atheism when he was 11 years old & the appearance of Jesus Christ to him




Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (+1994),

the temptation of atheism when he was 11 years old

& the appearance of Jesus Christ to him

From the age of eleven [says Saint Paisios], I would read the lives of the Saints, I would fast and keep vigil. My older brother would take the books and hide them, but that didn’t stop me. I would just go into the forest and keep reading there.

Later, when I was fifteen, a friend of my brother named Costas told my brother, “I’ll make him willingly give up all this nonesense.” He came and explained to me Darwin’s theory of evolution. I was shaken by this, and I said, “I’ll go and pray, and, if Christ is God, He’ll appear to me so that I’ll believe. I’ll see a shadow, hear a voice—He will show me a sign.” That’s all I could come up with at the time.

So, I went and began to pray and make prostrations for hours; but nothing happened. Eventually I stopped in a state of exhaustion. Then something Costas had said came to mind: “I accept that Christ is an important man,” he had told me, “righteous and virtuous, Who was hated out of envy for His virtue and condemned by His countrymen.” I thought to myself, “since that’s how Christ was, even if He was only a man, He deserves my love, obedience, and self-sacrifice. I don’t want paradise; I don’t want anything. It is worth making every sacrifice for the sake of His holiness and kindness.”

God was waiting to see how I would deal with this temptation. After this, Christ Himself appeared to me in a great light. He was visible from the waist up. He looked at me with tremendous love and said, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in Me, even if he dies, he shall live” (Jn. 11:25). He was holding the Gospel in His left hand, open to the page where the same words were written.

With this event, the uncertainties that had troubled my soul were overcome, and in divine grace I came to know Christ as true God and Savior of the world. I was convinced of the truth of the God-man, not by men or books, but by the very Lord Himself, who revealed Himself to me even at this young age. Firmly established in faith, I thought to myself, “Come back now, Costas, if you want, and we’ll have a talk.”


Books of St Paisios


Verso gli agnostici e gli atei – San Paisios del Monte Athos, Grecia (+1994) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Italian


Verso gli agnostici e gli atei

San Paisios del Monte Athos, Grecia (+1994)

“Un giovane vivace diceva all’Anziano: ‘Non c’è Dio. Non credo’.L’anziano gi rispose con bontà: ‘allora vieni vicino a me. Lo sai che la cicala che ora canta parla di Dio? Vedi questo gattino! Che bella pelliccia che ha, è migliore pure di quella di una regina!’ Il giovane si commosse alle parole dell’Anziano e la sua incredulità si addolcì”.

“Una volta un professore universitario visitò l’Anziano e gli disse: ‘Ho difficoltà a credere che Dio esista. Sono un uomo colto, vivo in Occidente e tutto ciò che dici e fai si può spiegare razionalmente. Certo, esiste qualche forza, ma non posso accettare tutto quello che dici su Cristo e sui sacramenti’. L’Anziano dopo averlo ascoltato gli rispose con tono brusco: ‘Sei più stupido di una lucertola!’. Offeso dalle parole dell’Anziano il professore reagì. L’Anziano insistette: ‘In verità tu sei più stupido di una lucertola e te lo dimostrerò’. L’Anziano chiamò subito una lucertola. All’animaletto che corse da lui chiese se Dio esistesse. La lucertola si alzò su due zampe e chinò la testa dando con questo movimento una risposta positiva all’Anziano. Il professore ne fu sorpreso e iniziò a piangere. L’Anziano soggiunse: ‘Hai visto che tu sei più stupido di una lucertola? Essa sa che Dio esiste e tu, con la tua intelligenza, non hai compreso la sua esistenza’. Il professore lasciò la cella dell’Anziano tutto scosso”.


Hiéromoine Isaac, L’Ancien Paissios de la Sainte Montagne, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne 2008.