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Product Description

A copy of the original portrait of Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra  (+2019), painted at Pantanassa Monastery, mounted on Timber and surrounded with a beautiful moulded frame.

Elder Aimilianos (born Alexandros Vapheides) was born in Piraeus, Greece, in October 1934. His higher level education began with his studies at the University of Athens where he received, in 1959, a degree in theology. His intentions were to enter the Holy Orders, become a priest, and then become a foreign missionary. After consulting with his friend Anastasios Yannoulatos (now Archbishop of Albania), who supported his intention, but thought he should prepare for this work by spending time at a monastery. Archbishop Anastasios had him contact the Bishop of Trikala, who he thought would initiate the young Alexandros into a monastic life.

Entering a monastic life, Alexandros was tonsured a monk and given the name Aimilianos on December 9, 1960 and two days later, December 11, he was ordained a deacon. On August 15, 1961, Dn. Aimilianos was ordained a hieromonk. His bishop then had him spend time at several monasteries before placing him at the Monastery of St. Vissarion in the foothills of the Pindus Mountains. It was while at St. Vissarion Monastery that Fr Aimilianos seemed to have had a kind of spiritual crisis and profound religious experience that transformed him radically and influenced his subsequent work, a transformation that made the young twenty seven year old hieromonk into a charismatic elder.

Emerging from the experience, Fr. Aimilianos was a different man, like the dramatic conversion of St. Paul, he had become energized and single-mindedly dedicated to the revitalisation of monastic life. He was soon appointed abbot of Meteora with the additional duties as diocesan preacher and confessor. As a preacher he soon took the Meteora region captive as his brilliant, mesmerizing speeches resonated especially with the young people who came in great numbers to hear him. Having heard Fr. Aimilianos, many were attracted to a monastic life under his guidance, so that soon he headed a large and dynamic community.

With his fame as well as the natural attraction of Meteora many tourists came, adding to the pressures on the community. Life at Meteora soon became increasing difficult under the pressures of tourism. Son after an opportunity arose when the governing body of Mount Athos invited him and his monastic brotherhood, in 1983, to repopulate the ancient Monastery of Simonopetra. Under the charismatic elder, the organisation and structure of the monastic life at Simonopetra was dramatically altered.

Elder Aimilianos also founded, in 1974, Panagia Philanthropini, a Centre for Social Advancement and Medical Prevention and Research, (Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Who Loves Humankind) that is located in northern Greece, near the town of Ormylia, Chalkidike. The centre functions as an adjunct to the Sacred Convent of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, a large monastic community with over 120 nuns from various nations—the majority of whom hold university degrees. The convent is a dependency of the Monastery of Simonos Petras on Mount Athos.

In the beginning of 1995, his health was permanently affected and this obliged the reverend Elder to gradually withdraw from his fatherly duties and leave the monastery he cherished and his beloved Mt. Athos. In the year 2000, the reverend Father handed over the reins of his office to present-day Abbot, Elder Elissaios.

On 9 May 2019, Elder Aimilianos, fell asleep in the Lord at the Holy Convent of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, Ormylia, Halkidiki.

Background: Meteora on the left and Simonopetra on the right

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