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Mourning someone important to me

He was born as Alexandros Vapheides near Piraeus in Greece in October 1934, meaning he was about 11 ½ years older than me.

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Until I read obituaries today I did not know that name.

To me he was always Geronda,  Greek for Elder.

His monastic name was Archimandrite Aimilianos.

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I met him 1981, during my first (of three) trips to Mount Athos, the peninsula in Northern Greece which has been a monastic republic — and officially off-limits to females — for more than a thousand years.

On that first trip, I started my visit there, but had no direct contact with him.  I spoke with some of the other monks, and then journeyed to other monastic establishments around the peninsula.

When I returned to the monastery of which he was the abbot, Simonapetra, he noticed my return and had one of his monks come and get me to talk with me.

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And thus began one of the most significant relationships in my life. I asked him, and he agreed, for him to be my spiritual father, which in Orthodox Christianity is an incredibly important relationship

I was surprised — and honored — at his agreement.  He was already one of the most important figures worldwide among the more than ¼ billion Orthodox Christians.

My wife sent me several emails with information about his passing, which was exactly 2 weeks before my birthday.

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In this post I will provide links which will let you read more about him.

Although I last saw him in 1989, and left the Orthodox Church several years later, from what I know of him he never removed me either from his heart or his prayers.

Please let me share with you about my Geronda, who is still very much a part of my life even 3 decades since I last saw him.

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If you just want to read about him and his passing you can do so here, or here, or here (and I thank my wife, Leaves on the Current, who is still a devout Orthodox Christian, for these links.

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