Father Hadji-George the Athonite (1809-1866)
Cappadocia was the birthplace of many of our Faith’s holy mothers and fathers. Even up to the twentieth century Cappadocia continued to bestow the blessings of saintly offspring on the Orthodox world. One such blessing came in the nineteenth century in the form of the child Gabriel. From his youth, this blessed child would seek out the monastic life in the local caves, seeking counsel from the local ascetics, to spending hours (and days) in fasting and prayer. Miracles filled his early years. The Theotokos appeared to him in church one day and, taking him by the hand, led him to the icon of her Son, who granted him the ability to read and write.
Whilst still a child, he snuck onto a boat heading to the Holy Mountain and convinced the abbot of Gregoriou Monastery to allow him to stay. The young novice Gabriel would go on to become the venerable elder Hadji-George the Athonite. His fasting and ascetical feats were comparable to those of the 4th century desert fathers. Not even on Easter was his fast broken. His brotherhood would dye potatoes red in lieu of eggs, content with the spiritual joy received on the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Despite the elder’s strictness, he committed himself to tireless pastoral work.
He would advise pilgrims and his flock during the day, and would spend the night in church standing in prayer. Even the Tsar was known to seek advice from Elder Hadji-George. This, however, became the source of jealousy among those who failed to see the grace of God working in this holy man. Some plotted against him and he was eventually exiled from the Holy Mountain. He went to Constantinople and for the Greek faithful, became a spiritual fountain, counselling them in difficult times. Saint Paisios brought Elder Hadji-George’s life to contemporary prominence. His short book on the life of an amazing elder of recent times is well worth reading.
Source: Lychnos June – July 2017