St. Nicholas Planas icon

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Orthodox Icon of Nicholas Planas of Athens.

Commemorated February 2.

Saint Nicholas Planas was born in 1851 on the island of Naxos in Greece. Papa-Nicholas was married at 17, but his wife died only a few years later, and so he spent the rest of his life in celibacy, his only aspiration being to serve the Church. He was ordained deacon in 1879 and priest in 1884, and his entire life passed in the midst of the noisy and bustling city of Athens. His focus for over 50 years was to serve every day the Divine Liturgy, vigils, and other services. He spent most of his time in the very small church of St. John the Hunter in Athens, Greece. The parish initially contained only eight families.

He never refused to commemorate and pray for anyone when he served, and he carried in his pockets slips of paper containing thousands of names whom he would pray for during the proskomede and the Liturgy. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit caused him to be cheerful even when he met with bitterness or grief. Uneducated by worldly standards, extremely simple both in speech and demeanor, he was often misunderstood and ridiculed; those affected by modernist trends regarded him as something of a fool.

But throughout his life he was never slandered-that is, he was never accused falsely. He believed that the reason he had been so protected was because whenever he stepped out of the house he began to pray the following from Psalm 118: "My steps do Thou direct according to Thy saying, and let no in iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the false accusation of men, and I will keep Thy commandments.u00a0. ." etc. Numerous stories are told of his being lifted in prayer and of the acolytes seing him raised off the ground in front of the altar during the Liturgy. While he would begin Liturgy at eight in the morning, he typically would not finish until two or three in the afternoon.

When he was not able to serve at the church of St. John, he would always serve elsewhere.commemorate the names daily for several months until one of his helpers 'weeded it out' so as to keep the conscientious priest from being entirely overwhelmed. "His love for prayer did not allow him to take his physical powers into account." One who attended Papa-Nicholas' services remembers: "When he commemorated the saints, he wished, if it were possible, to commemorate every single saint--as many as were found in the Synexarion, each one separately by name. Since much time was consumed, some would begin to cry out to him, 'Papa-Nicholas! say"...and of all Thy saints!" '; but he, without becoming troubled in the least, would continue to the end."