Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

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Icon of St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Our venerable and God-bearing Father Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, also Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Nicodemos the Athonite, was a great theologian and teacher of the Orthodox Church, reviver of hesychasm, canonist, hagiologist, and writer of liturgical poetry.

St. Nicodemus was born Nicholas Kallivourtzis c. 1749 in Naxos, Greece. In 1775 he became a monk of Dionysiou on Mount Athos. In 1777, Saint Makarius of Corinth visited him and gave him three texts to edit and revise: the Philokalia, a defining work on monastic spirituality, On Frequent Holy Communion and the Evergetinos. He also wrote original works such as Lives of the Saints.

He was, however, influenced significantly by Roman Catholic spirituality, canon law, and theology. He translated and edited The Spiritual Combat (1589) by Lorenzo Scupoli, a Catholic priest of Venice, renaming it Unseen Warfare, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He made use of Roman canon law in The Rudder, and held to the Anselmian view of the Atonment. There is an extant letter by St Nicodemus to Bishop Paisios of Stagai requesting an indulgence, and promising financial payment for it. His manual on sacramental confession, the Exomologetarion is a reworking of two books on confession by Paulo Segneri, a Jesuit. The influence of Western pietistic moralism is perhaps seen best in his Chrestoethia of Christians (1803), in which he condemns musical instruments, dancing, (non-liturgical) singing, the telling of jokes, etc., and tells Christians that such conduct will lead not only to their own punishment, but to the death of their unborn children.

St. Nicodemus reposed in the Lord in 1809 and was glorified by the Orthodox Church in 1955. He is a local saint of the Metropolis of Paronaxia and the Holy Mountain. His feast day is celebrated on July 14.

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