St. Savvas of Kalymnos icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Savvas the New, Σάββας  of Kalymnos.

Commemorated April 7.

Saint Savvas the New is the patron saint of the Greek Island of Kalymnos where he lived during the last twenty years of his life as the priest and spiritual father of the nuns of the Convent of All Saints. Saint Savvas was born in 1862 in Eastern Thrace. From his youth he had a calling for monastic life. He left for Mount Athos as a teen where he entered St. Anne's Skete. He learned iconography and Byzantine music.

After a few years, he traveled to Jerusalem for a pilgrimage to the holy sites, and there he entered the monastery of St. George Hozevitou. After a period of being a novice, he was tonsured a monk and given the name of Savvas.  In 1902, St. Savvas was ordained a deacon and a year later he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood. He spent almost 10 years in the desert by the Jordan where he led an austere life and occupied himself with prayer and iconography. His dwelling consisted of two cells which he reached by ascending up a rope ladder.

This isolation was necessary for successful inner concentration and noetic prayer and he made great spiritual progress there. Due to health reasons and the political situation in Palestine which made life unsafe, St. Savvas returned to Greece where he searched for a quiet place to continue his monastic life. He traveled throughout Greece for three years but could not find a suitable place. His prayers were answered when another saint, St. Nektarios of Aegina, had asked St. Savvas to come to the Holy Trinity Convent in Aegina and serve as a priest for nuns. St. Savvas stayed at the convent for six years, from 1919 until 1925. During his stay at the Convent St. Savvas had the opportunity to confess and receive counsel from St. Nektarios.

After St. Nektarios reposed, more and more pilgrims would come to the convent due to the growing reputation of St. Nektarios as a miracle-worker. This disrupted the quiet life that St. Savvas loved and so he departed the convent in 1925, again for a quieter life. St. Savvas spent the last years of his life as the priest and spiritual father at the Convent of All Saints on the island of Kalymnos. As a confessor, he combined leniency with severity. He was lenient on certain sins and severe to others.

He remained an ardent spiritual striver until the end of life and practiced extreme forms of self-restraint with regard to food, drink and sleep. Towards the end of his life, St. Savvas was in a state of intense concentration and holy contrition. For 3 days he did not receive anyone and he gave his last counsels: requested love and obedience in Christ. When he was on the point of death taking his last breath, suddenly he received strength, brought his blessed small hands together, and clapped them repeatedly saying his last holy words: "The Lord! The Lord! The Lord!".

He went to the Lord in 1948 on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation. After about 10 years when the saint's grave was opened in accordance to the Greek Orthodox custom, a heavenly fragrance emanated from the grave. This was a testament to the sanctity of the saint. Numerous miracles and healings have since been attributed to St. Savvas the New of Kalymnos.

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