Dachau 1945: The Souls of All Are Aflame

Gate of Dachau Concentration Camp

Gate of Dachau Concentration Camp

Source: Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese

In 1945, a Paschal Liturgy like no other was performed. Just days after their liberation by the US military on April 29, 1945, hundreds of Orthodox Christian prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp gathered to celebrate the Resurrection service and to give thanks.

by Douglas Cramer

The Dachau concentration camp was opened in 1933 in a former gunpowder factory. The first prisoners interred there were political opponents of Adolf Hitler, who had become German chancellor that same year. During the twelve years of the camp’s existence, over 200,000 prisoners were brought there. The majority of prisoners at Dachau were Christians, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox clergy and lay people.

Countless prisoners died at Dachau, and hundreds were forced to participate in the cruel medical experiments conducted by Dr. Sigmund Rascher. When prisoners arrived at the camp they were beaten, insulted, shorn of their hair, and had all their belongings taken from them. The SS guards could kill whenever they thought it was appropriate. Punishments included being hung on hooks for hours, high enough that heels did not touch the ground; being stretched on trestles; being whipped with soaked leather whips; and being placed in solitary confinement for days on end in rooms too small to lie down in.

The abuse of the prisoners reached its end in the spring of 1945. The events of that Holy Week were later recorded by one of the prisoners, Gleb Rahr. Rahr grew up in Latvia and fled with his family to Nazi Germany when the Russians invaded. He was arrested by the Gestapo because of his membership in an organization that opposed both fascism and communism. Originally imprisoned in Buchenwald, he was transported to Dachau near the end of the war.

In fact, Rahr was one of the survivors of the infamous “death trains,” as they were called by the American G.I.’s who discovered them. Thousands of prisoners from different camps had been sent to Dachau in open rail cars. The vast majority of them died horrific deaths from starvation, dehydration, exposure, sickness, and execution.

In a letter to his parents the day after the liberation, G.I. William Cowling wrote, “As we crossed the track and looked back into the cars the most horrible sight I have ever seen met my eyes. The cars were loaded with dead bodies. Most of them were naked and all of them skin and bones. Honest their legs and arms were only a couple of inches around and they had no buttocks at all. Many of the bodies had bullet holes in the back of their heads.”

Marcus Smith, one of the US Army personnel assigned to Dachau, also described the scene in his 1972 book, Dachau: The Harrowing of Hell:

Refuse and excrement are spread over the cars and grounds. More of the dead lie near piles of clothing, shoes, and trash. Apparently some had crawled or fallen out of the cars when the doors were opened, and died on the grounds. One of our men counts the boxcars and says that there are thirty-nine. Later I hear that there were fifty, that the train had arrived at the camp during the evening of April 27, by which time all of the passengers were supposed to be dead so that the bodies could be disposed of in the camp crematorium. But this could not be done because there was no more coal to stoke the furnaces. Mutilated bodies of German soldiers are also on the ground, and occasionally we see an inmate scream at the body of his former tormentor and kick it. Retribution!

Rahr was one of the over 4,000 Russian prisoners at Dachau at the time of the liberation. The liberated prisoners also included over 1,200 Christian clergymen. After the war, Rahr immigrated to the United States, where he taught Russian History at the University of Maryland. He later worked for Radio Free Europe. His account of the events at Dachau in 1945 begins with his arrival at the camp:

April 27th: The last transport of prisoners arrives from Buchenwald. Of the 5,000 originally destined for Dachau, I was among the 1,300 who had survived the trip. Many were shot, some starved to death, while others died of typhus. . . .

April 28th: I and my fellow prisoners can hear the bombardment of Munich taking place some 30 km from our concentration camp. As the sound of artillery approaches ever nearer from the west and the north, orders are given proscribing prisoners from leaving their barracks under any circumstances. SS-soldiers patrol the camp on motorcycles as machine guns are directed at us from the watch-towers, which surround the camp.

April 29th: The booming sound of artillery has been joined by the staccato bursts of machine gun fire. Shells whistle over the camp from all directions. Suddenly white flags appear on the towers—a sign of hope that the SS would surrender rather than shoot all prisoners and fight to the last man. Then, at about 6:00 p.m., a strange sound can be detected emanating from somewhere near the camp gate which swiftly increases in volume. . . .

The sound came from the dawning recognition of freedom. Lt. Col. Walter Fellenz of the US Seventh Army described the greeting from his point of view:

Several hundred yards inside the main gate, we encountered the concentration enclosure, itself. There before us, behind an electrically charged, barbed wire fence, stood a mass of cheering, half-mad men, women and children, waving and shouting with happiness—their liberators had come! The noise was beyond comprehension! Every individual (over 32,000) who could utter a sound, was cheering. Our hearts wept as we saw the tears of happiness fall from their cheeks.

Rahr’s account continues:

Finally all 32,600 prisoners join in the cry as the first American soldiers appear just behind the wire fence of the camp. After a short while electric power is turned off, the gates open and the American G.I.’s make their entrance. As they stare wide-eyed at our lot, half-starved as we are and suffering from typhus and dysentery, they appear more like fifteen-year-old boys than battle-weary soldiers. . . .

An international committee of prisoners is formed to take over the administration of the camp. Food from SS stores is put at the disposal of the camp kitchen. A US military unit also contributes some provision, thereby providing me with my first opportunity to taste American corn. By order of an American officer radio-receivers are confiscated from prominent Nazis in the town of Dachau and distributed to the various national groups of prisoners. The news comes in: Hitler has committed suicide, the Russians have taken Berlin, and German troops have surrendered in the South and in the North. But the fighting still rages in Austria and Czechoslovakia….

Naturally, I was ever cognizant of the fact that these momentous events were unfolding during Holy Week. But how could we mark it, other than through our silent, individual prayers? A fellow-prisoner and chief interpreter of the International Prisoner’s Committee, Boris F., paid a visit to my typhus-infested barrack—“Block 27”—to inform me that efforts were underway in conjunction with the Yugoslav and Greek National Prisoner’s Committees to arrange an Orthodox service for Easter day, May 6th.

There were Orthodox priests, deacons, and a group of monks from Mount Athos among the prisoners. But there were no vestments, no books whatsoever, no icons, no candles, no prosphoras, no wine. . . . Efforts to acquire all these items from the Russian church in Munich failed, as the Americans just could not locate anyone from that parish in the devastated city. Nevertheless, some of the problems could be solved. The approximately four hundred Catholic priests detained in Dachau had been allowed to remain together in one barrack and recite mass every morning before going to work. They offered us Orthodox the use of their prayer room in “Block 26,” which was just across the road from my own “block.”

The chapel was bare, save for a wooden table and a Czenstochowa icon of the Theotokos hanging on the wall above the table—an icon which had originated in Constantinople and was later brought to Belz in Galicia, where it was subsequently taken from the Orthodox by a Polish king. When the Russian Army drove Napoleon’s troops from Czenstochowa, however, the abbot of the Czenstochowa Monastery gave a copy of the icon to czar Alexander I, who placed it in the Kazan Cathedral in Saint-Petersburg where it was venerated until the Bolshevik seizure of power. A creative solution to the problem of the vestments was also found. New linen towels were taken from the hospital of our former SS-guards. When sewn together lengthwise, two towels formed an epitrachilion and when sewn together at the ends they became an orarion. Red crosses, originally intended to be worn by the medical personnel of the SS guards, were put on the towel-vestments.

On Easter Sunday, May 6th (April 23rd according to the Church calendar)—which ominously fell that year on Saint George the Victory-Bearer’s Day—Serbs, Greeks and Russians gathered at the Catholic priests’ barracks. Although Russians comprised about 40 percent of the Dachau inmates, only a few managed to attend the service. By that time “repatriation officers” of the special Smersh units had arrived in Dachau by American military planes, and begun the process of erecting new lines of barbed wire for the purpose of isolating Soviet citizens from the rest of the prisoners, which was the first step in preparing them for their eventual forced repatriation.

In the entire history of the Orthodox Church there has probably never been an Easter service like the one at Dachau in 1945. Greek and Serbian priests together with a Serbian deacon wore the make-shift “vestments” over their blue and gray-striped prisoner’s uniforms. Then they began to chant, changing from Greek to Slavonic, and then back again to Greek. The Easter Canon, the Easter Sticheras—everything was recited from memory. The Gospel—“In the beginning was the Word”—also from memory.

And finally, the Homily of Saint John Chrysostom—also from memory. A young Greek monk from the Holy Mountain stood up in front of us and recited it with such infectious enthusiasm that we shall never forget him as long as we live. Saint John Chrysostomos himself seemed to speak through him to us and to the rest of the world as well! Eighteen Orthodox priests and one deacon—most of whom were Serbs—participated in this unforgettable service. Like the sick man who had been lowered through the roof of a house and placed in front of the feet of Christ the Savior, the Greek Archimandrite Meletios was carried on a stretcher into the chapel, where he remained prostrate for the duration of the service.

Other prisoners at Dachau had included the recently canonized Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, who later became the first administrator of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the US and Canada; and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dionysios, who after the war was made Metropolitan of Trikkis and Stagnon in Greece.

Fr. Dionysios had been arrested in 1942 for giving asylum to an English officer fleeing the Nazis. He was tortured for not revealing the names of others involved in aiding Allied soldiers and was then imprisoned for eighteen months in Thessalonica before being transferred to Dachau. During his two years at Dachau, he witnessed Nazi atrocities and suffered greatly himself. He recorded many harrowing experiences in his book Ieroi Palmoi. Among these were regular marches to the firing squad, where he would be spared at the last moment, ridiculed, and then returned to the destitution of the prisoners’ block.

After the liberation, Fr. Dionysios helped the Allies to relocate former Dachau inmates and to bring some normalcy to their disrupted lives. Before his death, Metropolitan Dionysios returned to Dachau from Greece and celebrated the first peacetime Orthodox Liturgy there. Writing in 1949, Fr. Dionysios remembered Pascha 1945 in these words:

In the open air, behind the shanty, the Orthodox gather together, Greeks and Serbs. In the center, both priests, the Serb and the Greek. They aren’t wearing golden vestments. They don’t even have cassocks. No tapers, no service books in their hands. But now they don’t need external, material lights to hymn the joy. The souls of all are aflame, swimming in light.

Blessed is our God. My little paper-bound New Testament has come into its glory. We chant “Christ is Risen” many times, and its echo reverberates everywhere and sanctifies this place.

Hitler’s Germany, the tragic symbol of the world without Christ, no longer exists. And the hymn of the life of faith was going up from all the souls; the life that proceeds buoyantly toward the Crucified One of the verdant hill of Stein.

On April 29, 1995—the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Dachau—the Russian Orthodox Memorial Chapel of Dachau was consecrated. Dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, the chapel holds an icon depicting angels opening the gates of the concentration camp and Christ Himself leading the prisoners to freedom. The simple wooden block conical architecture of the chapel is representative of the traditional funeral chapels of the Russian North. The sections of the chapel were constructed by experienced craftsmen in the Vladimir region of Russia, and assembled in Dachau by veterans of the Western Group of Russian Forces just before their departure from Germany in 1994. The priests who participated in the 1945 Paschal Liturgy are commemorated at every service held in the chapel, along with all Orthodox Christians who lost their lives “at this place, or at another place of torture.”

Christ Opening the Gates of Dachau

Christ Opening the Gates of Dachau

Douglas Cramer is Chair of the Department of Internet Ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and editor of Antiochian.org. He is a writer, editor, and graphic designer with over twenty years of experience in the field of communications. Douglas has served as managing editor of AGAIN Magazine and as staff writer for Orthodox Christian Network. He is a member of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This article originally appeared in AGAIN Magazine Vol. 26 No. 1.

Orthodox Pascha (Easter) in Dachau

Christ Opening the Gates of Dachau

Christ Opening the Gates of Dachau

Learn more about the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Read another account by Douglas Cramer: Dachau 1945: The Souls of All Are Aflame.

By Gleb Alexandrovitch Rahr – Prisoner R (Russian)

The last transport of prisoners arrives from Buchenwald. Of the 5,000 originally destined for Dachau, I was among the 1,300 who had survived the trip. Many were shot, some starved to death, while others died of typhus…

April 28th: I and my fellow prisoners can hear the bombardment of Munich taking place some 30 km from our concentration camp. As the sound of artillery approaches ever nearer from the west and the north, orders are given proscribing prisoners from leaving their barracks under any circumstances. SS-soldiers patrol the camp on motorcycles as machine guns are directed at us from the watch-towers, which surround the camp.

April 29th: The booming sound of artillery has been joined by the staccato bursts of machine gun fire. Shells whistle over the camp from all directions. Suddenly white flags appear on the towers – a sign of hope that the SS would surrender rather than shoot all prisoners and fight to the last man. Then, at about 6:00 p.m., a strange sound can be detected emanating from somewhere near the camp gate which swiftly increases in volume…

Finally all 32,600 prisoners join in the cry as the first American soldiers appear just behind the wire fence of the camp. After a short while electric power is turned off, the gates open and the American GIs make their entrance. As they stare wide-eyed at our lot, half-starved as we are and suffering from typhus and dysentery, they appear more like fifteen-year-old boys than battle-weary soldiers…

An international committee of prisoners is formed to take over the administration of the camp. Food from SS-stores is put at the disposal of the camp kitchen. A US military unit also contributes some provision, thereby providing me with my first opportunity to taste American corn. By order of an American officer radio-receivers are confiscated from “prominent Nazis” in the town of Dachau and distributed to the various national groups of prisoners. The news come in: Hitler has committed suicide, the Russians have taken Berlin, and German troops have surrendered in the South and in the North. But the fighting still rages in Austria and Czechoslovakia…

Naturally, I was ever cognizant of the fact that these momentous events were unfolding during Holy Week. But how could we mark it, other than through our silent, individual prayers? A fellow-prisoner and chief interpreter of the International prisoner’s committee, Boris F., paid a visit to my typhus-infested barrack “Block 27” to inform me that efforts were underway in conjunction with the Yugoslav and Greek National Prisoner’s Committees to arrange an Orthodox service for Easter day, May 6th.

There were Orthodox priests, deacons and a group of monks from Mount Athos among the prisoners. But there were no vestments, no books whatsoever, no icons, no candles, no prosphoras, no wine…

dachau-chapel

Efforts to acquire all these items from the Russian parish in Munich failed, as the Americans just could not locate anyone from that parish in the devastated city. Nevertheless, some of the problems could be solved: The approximately 400 Catholic priests detained in Dachau had been allowed to remain together in one barrack and recite mass every morning before going to work. They offered us Orthodox the use of their prayer room in “Block 26”, which was just across the road from my own “block”. The chapel was bare, save for a wooden table and a Czenstochowa icon of the Theotokos hanging on the wall above the table – an icon which had originated in Constantinople and was later brought to Belz in Galicia, where it was subsequently taken from the Orthodox by a Polish king. When the Russian Army drove Napoleon’s troops from Czenstochowa, however, the abbot of the Czenstochowa Monastery gave a copy of the icon to czar Alexander I, who placed it in the Kazan Cathedral in Saint-Petersburg where it was venerated until the Bolshevik seizure of power. A creative solution to the problem of the vestments was also found. New linen towels were taken from the hospital of our former SS-guards. When sewn together lengthwise, two towels formed an epitrachilion and when sewn together at the ends they became an orarion. Red crosses, originally intended to be worn by the medical personnel of the SS-guards, were put on the towel-vestments.

On Easter Sunday, May 6th (April 23rd according to the Church calendar), – which ominously fell that year on Saint George the Victory-Bearer’s Day, Serbs, Greeks and Russians gathered at the Catholic Priests barrack. Although Russians comprised about 40 percent of the Dachau inmates, only a few managed to attend the service. By that time “repatriation officers” of the special “Smersh” units had arrived in Dachau by American military planes, and begun the process of erecting new lines of barbed wire for the purpose of isolating Soviet citizens from the rest of the prisoners, which was the first step in preparing them for their eventual forced repatriation. In the entire history of the Orthodox Church there has probably never been an Easter service like the one at Dachau in 1945. Greek and Serbian priests together with a Serbian deacon adorned the make-shift “vestments” over their blue and gray-striped prisoners uniforms. Then they began to chant, changing from Greek to Slavonic, and then back again to Greek. The Easter Canon, the Easter Sticheras – everything was recited from memory. The Gospel – “In the beginning was the Word” – also from memory.

And finally, the Homily of Saint John Chrysostom – also from memory. A young Greek monk from the Holy Mountain stood up in front of us and recited it with such infectious enthusiasm that we shall never forget him as long as we live. Saint John Chrysostomos himself seemed to speak through him to us and to the rest of the world as well! Eighteen Orthodox priests and one deacon – most of whom were Serbs, participated in this unforgettable service. Like the sick man who had been lowered through the roof of a house and placed in front of the feet of Christ the Saviour, the Greek Archimandrite Meletios was carried on a stretcher into the chapel, where he remained prostrate for the duration of the service.

The priests who participated in the 1945 Dachau Easter service are commemorated at every Divine Service held in the Dachau Russian Orthodox Memorial Chapel, along with all Orthodox Christians, who lost their lives “at this place, or at another place of torture” (“na meste sem i v inykh  mestakh mucheniya umuchennykh i ubiennykh”).The Dachau Resurrection-Chapel, which was constructed by a unit of the Russian Army’s Western Group of Forces just before their departure from Germany in August, 1994, is an exact replica of a North-Russian “tent-domed” (Shatrovyie) church or chapel. Behind the altar-table of the chapel is a large icon depicting angels opening the gates of the Dachau concentration camp and Christ Himself leading the prisoners to freedom. Today I would like to take the opportunity to ask you, Orthodox Christians all over the world, to pass on the names of fellow Orthodox who were imprisoned and died here in Dachau or in other Nazi concentration camps so that we can include them in our prayers. Should you ever come to Germany, be sure to visit our Russian Chapel on the site of the former concentration camp in Dachau and pray for all those who died “at this place, or at another place of torture”.

Khristos Voskrese! Christos Anesti! Christ has Risen! El Messieh Qahm!

Learn more about the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Read another account by Douglas Cramer: Dachau 1945: The Souls of All Are Aflame.

Wisdom from St. Nectarios

St. Nectarios

St. Nectarios: Living Life as a Christian

Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism?

Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him?

Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbor?

Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven?

We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle.

For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue.

How and Why Do We Fast?

Prostration before the Cross of Christ

Source: Antiochian Archdiocese

By Fr. Steven Ritter

Fasting is, according to St. John Chrysostom, the third most important element in our spiritual practices outside the worship of God in community. What are the other two? They are almsgiving, which indicates a mature spiritual Christian’s willingness to help others, even at the expense of his or her own well-being, and prayer, which should be self-evident as the primary means by which we commune with God and He forms His will in us. However, what we normally hear about most at this time of the year is fasting, and in fact our Lenten season also bears the name of the Holy and Great Fast.

If St. John puts fasting in third place, why this emphasis? There are three reasons that come to mind, though there are of course many more. First of all, fasting is a primal marker of our return to God. As the services remind us, it was by food that our ancestors Adam and Eve were led to their ancient fall from the grace and glory of God to which they were called to participate, and the results of that choice have affected all of us ever since. Our stomachs are, as St. John Climacus calls them, “a clamorous mistress” that demand everything of us, leading us down wrong paths, and continually deceiving us into thinking that our bodily needs are far more than they really are. This translates into other desires as well—we pamper ourselves and continually seek to satisfy that most fickle of masters, the human will. Fasting helps to remind us that we are putting off the things that separate us from God in order to slowly climb back to the Paradise that we lost.

Secondly, fasting disrupts our normal routine and self-centered wills. As creatures of tremendous habit, and often bad habit at that, we need something to serve as a “circuit breaker” to interrupt this process of continuous self-regard. Fasting makes us think twice about the high favor we have for our persons by depriving us of those things that we take to ourselves too often and easily. This includes all facets of our lives as well as that of pure intake of food. We must be cognizant of our need to reach out of ourselves and help others, to dedicate an increased amount of time to spiritual reading and conversation, especially that involving the Holy Scriptures, and to make every effort to attend the extra services offered during this season as a sacrifice to God of prayer and praise. He doesn’t need this, but we do, and those who neglect this are missing a great opportunity for a quick injection of spiritual growth.

Lastly, fasting is a way of practicing obedience. That’s right! The one thing that we all talk about as being important in the spiritual life is probably the one thing that we hate most of all! Many complain about the lack of genuine spiritual leaders in the world today (a very old complaint by the way, going back centuries) saying that there is no one to whom they can place their trust and submit to in obedience. This argument is a canard, for obedience can be practiced anywhere and any place, if we would just to humble ourselves. Additionally, there is a wise a spiritual elder to whom we can all submit at any time. As Tito Colliander asks in his marvelous book The Way of the Ascetics, “since the time of the Apostles [the Church] has given us a teacher who surpasses all others and who can reach us everywhere, wherever we are and under whatever circumstances we live…Do you wish to know his name? It is holy fasting.”

By being obedient to the rules of the Church rather than our own re-interpretation of them, we are practicing the purest form of spiritual and bodily obedience possible, and it’s a fact of life that if we cannot do this then the instructions of the most saintly elder would prove impossible for us!



Yet the Fathers of the Church also encourage moderation in how we keep the fast. I have seen the strictest adherence prove to be most harmful to someone because of the poisonous disposition that resulted from it. I have also seen someone who hardly kept the fast at all because of illness or medical issues profit greatly because of sorrow at not being able to keep it more fervently, and even the little done was to them a mountain of great height.

Here are a few things to remember about fasting:



  • Challenge yourself—you can probably do much more that you do. It’s the old thing about pampering the flesh again. Find a way of fasting that is within your means, that makes you stretch a bit, but that doesn’t frustrate so much that you give up. We are all on different spiritual levels and practical abilities.
  • Once you find your level, stick to it—nothing disrupts obedience more than variance and making excuses.
  • Make your fast a broad-based effort. Find time for reading and extra attendance at the services. The excuse of not having enough time will not suffice, since we all find time for those things we really want to do, no matter how crowded the schedule.
  • Always remember to repent for your failings. God is not there to strike you down, but to lift you up, and nothing reaches his heart like sincere repentance.
  • Remember that breaking the fast, or failing to keep it as well as you might is not a sin, but failing to keep the spirit of the fast in mind, or denying its importance as a precept of the church, certainly is. And no matter how we might ignore this time of the year, it is still a holy one whether we pay attention or not, and the evil one certainly knows what time of the year it is, and will increase his attacks whether you are prepared for them or not!
  • Most of all, approach the fast with joy and anticipation, a time of year that the church gives us to draw closer to God, and to achieve true and genuinely heartfelt reconciliation and forgiveness with and for our family, friends, neighbors, congregation, nation, and the world at large.

May God grant us all a blessed Great Lent!

Father Steven Ritter is the priest at St. James Orthodox Mission in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and the author of That Your Joy May Be Full: Learning from the Authentic Orthodox Theology of the Spirit.

A Brief History of St. Paisios

St. Paisios

On January 13, 2015, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Synod unanimously added the blessed Paisius to the roles of the Saints of the Church. This decision was made following the application by the Committee on Canonical issues.

Saint Paisius of Mt. Athos, known to the world as Arsenios Eznepidis was born in 1924 in Farasa Cappadocia. He departed this world in July of 1994. He was a Greek monastic who had become widely recognized for his way of life and his works.

The name of his father was Prodromos and he was the president of the town of Farasa. His mother was named Evlampia. He had eight siblings.

On August 7th, one week before the residents of Farasa left for Greece, he was baptized by the priest of the parish, Fr. Arsenios. Fr. Arsenios has been proclaimed a Saint of the Orthodox Church. Fr. Arsenios insisted that Paisius be given his name “so that I can leave a monk to take my place” as he said.

Five weeks after the baptism of little Arsenios, the Eznepidis family arrived on September 14, 1924 at the town of St. George Piraeus, Greece. The family arrived at this location along with many other from Farasa. From St. George the whole group went on to settle on the Island of Corfu. The family remained in Corfu for one and a half years.

After this the family moved to Igoumenitsa, Greece and from there went to Konitsa, Macedonia. Arsenios attended elementary school in Konitsa and received his certificate of graduation with a citation of exceptional behavior. From an early age, he pondered the miracles of St. Arsenios. He had a special inclination to the monastic life and he desired to be an ascetic.

Arsenios went to Mount Athos in 1949 to become a monk immediately after being discharged from the military. He returned to the secular world for one year in order to help settle his sisters and then he returned to Mount Athos. He stayed for one night at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Karyes.

He then went on to live at the Skete of Saint Panteleimon in the cell of the Presentation of the Theotokos. It is there that he met Father Cyril, the Abbot of the Monastery and was faithfully obedient to him.

After many moves to a number of retreat centers of Mount Athos and Mount Sinai, he settled in the Monastery of Koutloumousiou where he became gravely ill and fell asleep in the summer of 1994. He was laid to rest at the Convent of St. John the Theologian in Soureti, Thessaloniki.

From then on, during the 11th and 12th of July, on the anniversary of his repose, a vigil service is held there in the presence of thousands of faithful.

Translated from the Greek by: +Fr. Constantine J. Simones, January 14, 2015

Saint Paisius wrote numerous books which have been published by the Convent of St. John the Theologian in Soureti, Thessaloniki. They are (available on Amazon, click to order):

A book about St. Paisios