The Elder Archimandrite Aimilianos (Vafeidis) (October 1934 – May 9, 2019), monastic, was the abbot of Simonopetra Monastery from 1974 to 2000. As a young monk, Elder Aimilianos looked forward to a career as a foreign missionary. Assigned to a monastery, the Elder experienced a spiritual crisis from which he emerged a man, supremely energized, and dedicated to revitalization of monastic life.
Alexandros Vapheides was born in Piraeus, Greece, in October 1934. His higher level education began with his studies at the University of Athens where he received, in 1959, a degree in theology. His intentions were to enter the Holy Orders, become a priest, and then become a foreign missionary. After consulting with his friend Anastasios Yannoulatos (now Archbishop of Albania), who supported his intention, but thought he should prepare for this work by spending time at a monastery. Yannoulatos had him contact the Bishop of Trikala, who he thought would initiate the young Alexandros into a monastic life.
Entering a monastic life, Alexandros was tonsured a monk and given the name Aimilianos on December 9, 1960 and two days later, December 11, he was ordained a deacon. On August 15, 1961, Dn. Aimilianos was ordained a hieromonk. His bishop then had him spend time at several monasteries before placing him at the Monastery of St. Vissarion in the foothills of the Pindus Mountains. It was while at St. Vissarion Monastery that Father Aimilianos seemed to have had a kind of spiritual crisis and profound religious experience that transformed him radically and influenced his subsequent work, a transformation that made the young twenty seven year old hieromonk into a charismatic elder.
Emerging from the experience, Fr. Aimilianos was a different man, like the dramatic conversion of St. Paul, he had become energized and single-mindedly dedicated to the revitalization of monastic life. He was soon appointed abbot of Meteora with the additional duties as diocesan preacher and confessor. As a preacher he soon took the Meteora region captive as his brilliant, mesmerizing speeches resonated especially with the young people who came in great numbers to hear him. Having heard Fr. Aimilianos, many were attracted to a monastic life under his guidance, so that soon he headed a large and dynamic community.
With his fame as well as the natural attraction of Meteora many tourists came, adding to the pressures on the community. As life at Meteora became increasing difficult under the pressures of tourism, an opportunity arose when the governing body of Mount Athos invited him and his community of monks and novices, in 1983, to repopulate the ancient Monastery of Simonopetra, that under the charismatic elder the organization and structure of life of which was dramatically altered.
Elder Aimilianos also founded, in 1974, Panagia Philanthropini, a Center for Social Advancement and Medical Prevention and Research, (Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Who Loves Humankind) that is located in northern Greece, near the town of Ormylia, Chalkidike. The center functions as an adjunct to the Sacred Convent of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, a large monastic community with over 120 nuns from various nations—the majority of whom hold university degrees. The convent is a dependency of the Monastery of Simonos Petras on Mount Athos.
Elder Aimilianos retired as abbot in 2000.
- The Way of the Spirit: Reflections on Life in God. By Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, translated by Fr. Maximos Constas. Indiktos Publishing Company, 2008. 400 pages. ISBN 978-9605183394.
- The Mystical Marriage: Spiritual Life According to St. Maximos the Confessor. By Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, translated by Fr. Maximos Constas. New Rome Press, 2018. 202 pages. ISBN 978-1939028815.
- Spiritual Instruction and Discourses, Volume 1: The Authentic Seal. By Archimandrite Aimilianos. Ormylia, Halkidiki: Ormylia Publishing, 1999. 400 pages. ISBN 9608560330. (Available in North America from Alexander Press or Alexia Publications.) 
- The Church At Prayer - The Mystical Liturgy Of The Heart. By Archimandrite Aimilianos. ISBN 960-518-251-3.
- The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain: Contemporary Voices from Mount Athos. Translated with introduction and notes by Hieromonk Alexander (Golitzin). South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, 1996. 311 pages. ISBN 1878997483. (Available in the UK from Orthodox Christian Book Service, 95 Spencer Street, Birmingham B18 6DA.)
In Greek (original texts)
- ΧΑΡΙΣΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΟΔΟΣ - ΕΡΜΗΝΕΙΑ ΣΤΟΝ ΒΙΟ ΤΟΥ ΟΣΙΟΥ ΝΕΙΛΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΚΑΛΑΒΡΟΥ. ISBN 9789605183585
- «Ασκητικά» ο Λόγος περί Νήψεως του Αρχ. Αιμιλιανού Σιμωνοπετρίτου, ερμηνεία στον Άγ. Ησύχιο (Prologue by Bishop Kallistos Ware) No. of Pages. 632. ISBN 9789605183028
- ↑ An excerpt from this book, Orthodox Spirituality and the Technological Revolution is available at OrthodoxyToday.org
- Archive of Elder Aimilianos blog
- Orthodox Spirituality and the Technological Revolution by Archimandrite Aimilianos, Posted: 28-Nov-05 on OrthodoxyToday.org
- Aimilianos of Simonopetra: A Modern Elder of the Church Video by Patristic Nectar Publications
- "Elder Aimilianos Has Departed This Life"
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