The Holy Elder Porphyrios (in the world Evangelos Baϊraktaris) was born on February 7, 1906 at Euboia,1 in the village of Agios Ioannis in the province of Karystia. His parents were devout, God-loving people. His father was Leonidas Baϊraktaris, and his mother Eleni was the daughter of Antonios Lambros, who was a psalti in the village and had met Saint Nektarios (November 9) The Saint's family was large and his parents were poor farmers who found it difficult to support themselves. Thus his father was obliged to leave for America, where he worked on the construction of the Panama Canal.
Young Evangelos was the fourth child of the family. He tended sheep on a mountain and attended only one year of elementary school, when he was forced to go to Chalkida to work when he was only seven years old. He worked for two or three years in a shop, then later he went to Piraeus, where he worked for two years in the grocery store owned by a relative.
At the age of twelve he left for the Holy Mountain in secret, desiring to emulate Saint John the Hut Burner (January 15), whom he loved very much, after he had read his Life. God's grace led him to the hermitage of Saint George of Kavsokalyvia where he lived in obedience to two Elders, Panteleimon (who was also a Spiritual Father) and Ioannikios (his brother according to the flesh) who was a priest. Evangelos devoted himself to these two Elders with great love and absolute obedience, and who had a reputation for being unusually austere.
He was tonsured as a monk at the age of fourteen and received the name Nikḗtas. After two years he was tonsured into the Great Schema. A little later, God granted him the gift of clairvoyance.
At the age of nineteen, the Elder became seriously ill, which forced him to leave the Holy Mountain. Then he returned to Euboia, where he lived in the Monastery of Saint Charalambos at Leuka. In 1926, at the age of twenty, he was ordained as a priest at Saint Charalampos of Kymi by Porphyrios III, the Archbishop of Sinai, who gave him the name Porphyrios. At the age of twenty-two he became a Spiritual Father and Confessor. Shortly thereafter, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite. Then he worked for a time as a parish priest at Tsakaioi, a village of Euboia.
Father Porphyrios lived for twelve years in the Holy Monastery of Saint Charalampos, ministering to the people as their Spiritual Father and Confessor; and then for three years at Ano Bathia, in the deserted Saint Nicholas Monastery.
On the eve of Greece's entry into World War II in 1940, Elder Porphyrios was sent to Athens, where took up his duties as a priest and a Spiritual Father at the Athens Polyclinic. As he himself said, he lived there for thirty-three years as if it were only one day, devoting himself completely to his spiritual work of relieving the pain and sickness of his patients.
In 1955 he settled in Kallίsia, where he had leased Saint Nicholas Monastery from the Holy Monastery of Penteli, along with the rural area that surrounded it, which he cultivated with great diligence. At the same time, he enjoyed his prolific spiritual work.
In the summer of 1979, he settled in Milesi with the dream of building a monastery. At first he lived in a trailer under adverse conditions, then later in a huge cell of concrete blocks, where he endured the many trials because of his health. In 1984 he moved into a room in a monastery which was being built. Even though the Elder was very sick and blind, he worked unceasingly and tirelessly to complete the work. When the cornerstone of the katholikon of the Monastery of the Transfiguration was laid on February 26, 1990, he was able to see his dream come true.
In the final years of his earthly life he began to prepare for his repose. He wished to retire to the Holy Mountain to his beloved Kavsokaliva, where secretly and quietly, just as he had lived, he would deliver his soul to her Bridegroom. Many times people heard him say, "Now that I have grown old, I want to go and die up there."
Indeed, in June 1991, sensing his death, and not wanting to be buried with honors, he left for the hut of Saint George at Kavsokaliva, where he had been tonsured as a monk 70 years before. At 4:31 on the morning of December 2, 1991, he delivered his soul to the Lord, whom he had loved so much during his lifetime. His last words were those of Christ's prayer, which he loved and so often repeated: "that they all may be one" (John 17:21).
The Canonization of Elder Porphyrios took place during the session of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 27, 2013.
Troparion — Tone 1
(Podoben: “O citizen of the desert…”)
O ye faithful, let us honor Porphyrios, / the offspring of Euboia the Elder of all Greece, / an initiate of theology, and a true lover of Christ; / from childhood he was filled with divine gifts; / those possessed by demons are delivered, the sick are healed, and they cry with faith: / “Glory to Him Who strengthened you. / Glory to Him Who sanctified you. / Glory to Him Who, through you, works healings for all.”
Kontakion — Tone 8
(Podoben: “O Victorious Leader…”)
Wholeheartedly, let us praise Porphyrios, the most holy temple of the Comforter, and beloved of the Most Pure Theotokos; for he loves and heals all, he guards us and intercedes for us so that we might attain théosis. Therefore, we cry: “Rejoice, O Father Porphyrios.”
1 Greek: Εύβοια. Pronounced EV-via.