The miraculous healing of the mentally ill on the Greek island of Kefalonia
First unusual insane healing on the Greek island of Kefalonia (Cephalonia) noticed after 1953. Just after the massive earthquake that almost destroyed Kefalonia. Earthquake have a devastating effect on the psyche of many people and most of them were able to help in the Church of St. Gerasimos of Cephalonia.
Now this place is a Mecca for those who want to recover from mental illness.
Kefalonia, the largest of the seven Islands of the Ionian sea that washes the Western coast of Greece, known for its natural beauty and brave sailors, who have brought glory to the island. But only a few outside of Greece know that the island has long been the center of a strange pilgrimage. There annually attracts many of the mentally ill, hoping for a miracle of healing, which makes a Saint, venerated on the island Gerasimos of Cephalonia.
In a small valley, dotted with olive trees and cut off from the sea by high cliffs, lies the Church of Saint Gerasimos and the convent founded by the Saint himself in the last years of his life, in the XVI century. There you can find usually only nuns and the mentally ill who live in tents throughout the year.
Twice a year, August 16 and October 20 (the day of honoring a Saint), here from all over the island and from the continent across the sea attracts even more people — patients, accompanied by relatives and pilgrims.
The Relics Of St. Gerasimos
The day before the holiday shall be made the silver chest with the Holy body, which is installed vertically in the main Church of the monastery. Through a glass window visible dried face and hands of the Holy, the rest is closed a variety of gold and silver offerings. All night people walk past the sacred chest and kiss the glass window, which is located just above the hands of the Holy.
Next are the priests and quietly read prayers, sung by the choir, and as loud as possible that the chants were audible over the screams of the patients relatives scattered throughout the Church.
The next morning after a celebratory mass, a crowd gathers on the large monastery courtyard and preparing for the prayer service in honor of the Saint. Before the arrival of the clergymen and removal of chest patients have on the route of the procession.
Women, men, children laid on the ground, many coerced, they resist, trying to free herself, yelling, curse of the Holy and make lewd signs in the direction of the Church. Some of them are so violent they are. All the mentally ill are placed in a row one after the other, sometimes they can be fifty or eighty people.
Then, at noon, Church bells ring; under the scorching rays of the summer sun comes the procession with the many crosses and other ritual supplies, followed by the men’s choir singing hymns. And here comes the sacred chest, sparkling in the rays of the sun. Him are four priests, all dressed in clothes decorated with gold; a few steps behind the Bishop should be holding the Golden mitre, surrounded by the priests, ready to line up behind him.
The official procession was escorted sixty nuns, dressed in black, with small crosses on their forehead. Then join the pilgrims with candles in their hands, and the procession out on the cloister. There, joined by several groups of musicians from the capital town of Argostoli.
The sounds of a slow March and the pealing of the monastery bells the procession slowly moving on the dusty road along the row of patients, lying on the ground or held by the relatives. The meaning is that after the Bishop with the priests carrying the sacred chest on patients, diabolical spirit will leave the body through the miraculous power of the Holy.
As soon as the procession had passed, the patient, relatives raise him, and again placed in front, so that the chest was carried over it as many times as possible. The procession reaches the end point, marked by a large maple and a source, the occurrence of which is attributed to the Saint.
All patients recovering from constant attempts to escape and sometimes violent struggles with family, drive to this place. They are exhausted with long fasting, which had to withstand before joined the procession.
Then the musicians stop playing, and everyone waits in anticipation of a miracle. The Bishop prays for the mentally ill, it reads a special prayer — exorcism, composed by Chrisostomos, one of the revered fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church.
When prayer and exorcism read, the musicians begin to play again, raise Church signs, crosses and banners, as well as a chest with the body of the Saint, and the procession starts back again down the long line of patients.
When and why did the belief in the supernatural powers of Saint Gerasimos in relation to the mentally ill is unknown. Moreover, nothing in the life of the Saint has not indicated that he is concerned with mental illness. Saint Gerasimos was born in 1506, near the ancient city of Corinth on the continent, his ancestors belonged to the highest strata of Byzantine society. Say he received a good education in classical Greek sample, but within the Greek Orthodox Church.
He traveled a lot and once came to the island of Kefalonia, where he began to live as a hermit. Pretty soon, though not without difficulties and disagreements with the locals, he had such great respect on the island, that many noble families entrusted him with their daughters, so he taught them to Christian obedience, and wisdom. Then he founded a convent and surrounding a running area was turned into a prosperous farm.
Maybe because of their farming activities or pursuing some other purpose, he built a huge number of wells, and everything in his life beckoned. Around one of these wells the day of the death of the Holy annually to pronounce the exorcisms for healing the mentally ill.
It is unknown for certain, how did the ritual, which culminates in the manifestation of the psychotherapeutic exorcism. Perhaps the reason is a known fact that one of the first miracles of Saint Gerasimos occurred at its source. According to legend, shortly after the death of the Holy woman, who was possessed by an evil spirit, fell into the well. Due to the phenomenon of the Holy in the dream, one of the nuns the woman was able to save, and then all were surprised to find that the devil left her.
The miracles associated with the Saint Gerasimos, began shortly after his death in 1579. He cured many from diseases, and also defended the island and its inhabitants from such troubles, as the invasion of enemies, epidemics and drought. But most of the recorded cases, as before, and is currently associated with the cure of mental diseases.
If someone has a right to seek the assistance of the Holy, that’s insane, most likely, will receive it. And among people with mental illness, as is widely recognized, the so-called possessed people, or «patients of a Saint», can increasingly count on the fact that the psychotherapeutic power of the Holy and read the exorcism will benefit them. With regard to the patient’s diagnosis, in many cases it is determined by the results of exorcism
Obsessed necessarily behave inappropriately. They can be noisy or quiet, but always are negative, they are not in control and cannot be reined in. All this, according to legend, is connected with devilish power, and the evil spirit dwelled in the body, destroys it or gets hold of the soul of man — whether man, woman or child. The demon has its own identity, it’s not the worst in the part of the patient.
So, patients talking among themselves, turning to the demon that possessed the soul of a man. How this happens can be demonstrated on the example of the dialogue between the two mentally ill women, written by Locatoon.
«Wow! How did you move into this fat carcass?
— Don’t ask! No idea how long I searched for her. I caught her one afternoon on an olive tree and moved it, ha ha ha».
In his treatise on the life and miracles of St. Gerasimos, the priest describes two cases of healing through the Holy:
«A tremendous miracle that took place on 15 August 1924 and associated with the healing of two women — Anne T. Danat from the village of Vari and Miranti K. Fock of Zakarian, possessed of a truly terrible demons made a profound impression on the pilgrims, who trembled from terror and awe.
Demons, are extremely wicked and bold, they themselves called themselves: the one who moved into poor Anna was Trichuris, and the other with the soul of a poor, Meranti— Dracontius; they cursed, shouted, screamed, laughed, biting, and moaning, in short, they tormented the bodies of the two unfortunate women, as soon as I could…» (the Names of both devils men’s: Trichuris means «three strings», and Dracontius — «draconomicon».)
Patients become completely unmanageable, when the procession with the body of the Saint coming to him. They are desperately trying to escape, emit horrible screams or swear and threaten the priests and their Holy one, whom they commonly called Kapsali, which means «one who burns».
Here are examples of expressions which escaped patients under the influence of the Holy: «Kapsali, you burned me,» «I’ll smash you in the chest, you stupid old monk!», «Get away, you, the Bishop, like a goat, with a goat’s beard!», «Get out, coloradony the priest!», «May the devil dwell in you!»
The recitation of the name of Saint Gerasimos in itself causes a strong reaction of the demons; and, as if deliberately, the priests and the choir lift their voices to the limit, when you say the name of the Saint in the Church, during the litany. But at the very moment when the chest with the body of the Saint sneaked over the patient, he calms down and stops. When the procession passes on, he again begins to run amok.
It is believed that whenever there is a miracle healing, something unexpected, for example, broken glass in the Church, wildly flashing Holy candles, sometimes they go out like they blew out a strong wind. Sometimes it is warned by the demons themselves, and this suggests that they give up, for example: «Kapsali, I get out of this guy, but I will steal your Holy fire.»
Can occur, some serious. For example, one day, as reported by one witness, broke a big branch on the tree of the Saint. It happened at a time when many climbed the tree to see the procession.
Most patients are Holy continue to be guided well in space and, although denying their true identity, remain interested in what is happening around them. They know the whereabouts of the body of the Saint and the ceremony in the Church and beyond, as evidenced by several episodes.
Once, when on the feast of St. was Bishop, having a bad reputation, patients are all the time interrupted the ceremony fair accusations; and when at the end of mass, he asked permission of the audience to announce the name of the unworthy of the laity to the priests, the patients cried in unison: «He is as unworthy as you.»
The islanders also believe that it is possessed by the devil have the gift of prophecy. When one woman laughed at the patient, he turned to her and, putting on her little daughter said that she too, will soon be asking the Saint to heal her from mental illness. And according to the teacher, who told this story, the prophecy came true.
All this is true or not, such stories suggest about the mysterious nature of the relationships between people and their saints — the respect in which, perhaps, holds the key to understanding miracles of healing.