Born in 1846 in a family of a armourer in Smyrna, he was the youngest child in the family and was characterized by outstanding abilities. In his teenage years Dimitrios knew by heart almost all Philokalia. At the island of Paros, he met Saint Arsenius of Paros who blessed Dimitrios to go to St. Panteleimon monastery at Mt. Athos.
In St. Panteleimon monastery, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Daniel. Later he lived in Vatopaidi monastery. For 10 years he suffered with nephritis and on August 31, when the Vatopaidi monastery celebrated the feast of Holy Belt of the Mother of God, he was suddenly healed. After 5 years in Vatopaidi he moved to Katounakia where lived alone for 3.5 years. Starting from 1883, other monks started to settle there, so that Danielaioi brotherhood was formed. Elder Daniel was offered to be a bishop but considered himself to be unworthy of it.
Gift of spiritual counsel and persuasion
Elder Daniel had a gift of spiritual counsel and consolation in sorrows. He guarded or cured from prelest many monks and lay persons. He was in spiritual friendship with St. Nectarios of Pentapolis. Also he was in correspondence with Philotheos (Zervakos) of Paros and other monks from the monastery of Longovarda at the island of Paros. Elder Daniel guarded them from the heresy of theologian A. Makrakis. About 200 letters to the abbess Theodosia from the monastery at the island of Tinos and 70 other writings of elder Daniel are available until now.
Kostis Marmaras, a lay person, was interested in spiritualism. He wanted to know whether it comes from the electric forces of from the spiritual forces. Then he found out that it was from the spirit and in his opinion, from the Holy Spirit. So Kostis practiced spiritualism for 30 years, reading thoughts, speaking with "saints", "spirits of reposed people" etc. After that he found a book of elder Daniel against spiritualism and started to doubt about holiness of the participating spirit. He started to write letters to the elder asking about it. The elder succeeded in convincing Kostis that spiritualism was a delusion. But it took a very long time for Kostis to be healed completely. When Kostis started to read the prayers of exorcism of St. Basil the Great, the demons beat him unmercifully in the night. Then he started to see demonic visions and thought that it comes from grace. In the end, Kostis managed to get out of the net of demonic tricks, but that happened only with help of Divinely wise elder Daniel.
Another lay person, a teacher from Kerkyra, thought that he was speaking with St. Spyridon. The "saint" told him to have a candle in his hand during the prayer. When the candle will start to fade, he should not put it out but endure. The "saint" said that it is equal to martyrdom. That teacher also could trigger or stop the rain with his prayers and became known to many people. But when his hands became paralyzed because of the burns, he addressed to elder Daniel. The elder explained the difference between true and false miracles and healed that person from delusion.
Fr. Callistratus in the end of his life fell into prelest. During the Divine service, he started trembling and was thinking that this is an action of grace. But he was not absolutely certain and decided to write to elder Daniel. The elder replied with an extensive letter "On noetic prayer. Letter of elder Daniel to Callistratus" (1916, In: "Angelic Living"). Elder Daniel analyses in detail the actions of grace and the trembling that comes from God and the one that comes from the evil side. He writes that no one of the Saints was trembling as Fr. Callistratus. He also tells about another similar case of trembling that was coming from the evil forces with monk Alipius who did not notice that was praying with unnoticeable vainglory. And the elder showed with convincing arguments that the trembling for Fr. Callistratus was coming from the same force. In a reply, Fr. Callistratus is amazed at the action of the elder Daniel's letter, the meekness of the elder and the way how he showed the delusion.
In a letter "Reply of monk Daniel to Markianus, a monk of Iveron skete, about rejection of dreams" (1918, In: "Angelic Living"), elder Daniel writes about a man of great learning who thought of himself that he had received a gift of unceasing heart prayer from the icon of the Mother of God and then started to see visions. He asked God to receive the same visions as the Prophets of the Old Testament. Then the Devil offered him many other heretic superstitions: an "angel" told him so "sacrifice" his hand to Christ and to burn it with candle, the man even took baptism for the second time from the protestants because the demons told him that only protestants keep proper baptism from the times of Apostles. When elder Daniel asked whether this man confessed everything, he replied that "Christ" told him that it is not necessary and there are no true confessors now. After listening for 6 hours about different delusions, it took elder Daniel 2 hours to bring that person to reason based on many places in the Divine Scriptures and reasonable arguments. The man was convinced and started to resist the visions, though the traces of delusion were seen to the end of his life.
In September of 1929, the elder fell ill with a cold. He was foreboding his death and asked to take the Holy Communion. On September 8 (21), 1929, on the day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, after the Divine Liturgy and the Sacrament of Anointment of the Sick, elder Daniel reposed.
- ᾿Αϒϒελικὸς Βίος. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1987 (Russian) Даниил Катунакский. Ангельское житие. М., 2005
- Μοναχικὰ ἐντρυφήματα. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1982
- Πατρικα Ϫιδαχαί. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1989. Vol. 3
- Κατὰ αἱρητικῆς δοξασίας ὑπὸ Μακράκη. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1984
- ᾿Εξ ἐρήμου Ϫιατυπώσεις. Θεσσαλονίκη, 1985. Vol. 5.
- (Russian) Orthodox Encyclopedia. Daniel Katounakiotis.
- (Russian) Archimandrite Cherubim (Karambelas). "Contemporary ascetics of Mount Athos".
- (Russian) Elder Daniel Katounakiotis. "Angelic living".