December 3, 2012
The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate enrolled St. Nikephoros the Leper (+1964) amongst the Saints.
St. Nikephoros (Nicholas Tzanakakis) was born in a village outside of Chania, Crete. His parents died when he was 13 years old. After their death, he left his village and went to Chania to live with his grandfather. While there, he worked in a barber shop. It was then that the first signs of Hansen disease (leprosy) appeared. At that time, lepers were isolated on the island of Spinaloga. Thus, when his symptoms became more acute and he was being pressured to withdraw to this island, he secretly left by boat and traveled to Egypt where he worked again in a barber shop in Alexandria. As his illness progressed, a priest there intervened and sent him to the island of Chios. There, he resided in a hostel for lepers, where Fr. Anthimos Bagianos (later St. Anthimos) was serving as a priest. When he arrived in Chios in 1914, Nicholas was 24 years old. Within two years he was tonsured a monk and was given the name Nikephoros. Under the protection of the “Virgin of Patience whose chapel was in the hostel, Nikephoros remained in prayer, discreteness and silence as his illness progressed, disfiguring his body in many ways and causing a great deal of discomfort and pain. In 1957, the hostel in Chios closed and all the lepers were sent to the Anti-leprosy Clinic of St. Barbara in Agaleo, Attica, within the Athens area. There, he remained in prayers and repentance, offering consolation to all until his death on the 4th of January, 1964. After his death, the fragrance from his remains became a comfort to all and many miracles were performed in his name.