It was the moment when the fire of 23rd July had completed its life-damaging work in Neo Vujza and Mati (about 7pm in the evening), and started spreading northeast to Agios Andreas where the children’s camps of the Municipality of Athens is located and southwest to Rafina.
Those present at the port of Rafina (where they had moved to escape the flames, including my brother) heard the bell in the chapel of Agios Nikolaos, located on a hill just above the harbour. The flames were already threatening the chapel. Some went to the chapel courtyard to see if there was a need for help.
Among them was a lady, and on the bench of the courtyard, she saw what looked like the form of a rallying priest who sat on the bench in the fumes and turned his body toward the flames. Impressed, she took a picture on her cell phone from a distance. Approaching, she took another one. But once she reached the bench, the figure disappeared unexpectedly and mysteriously into the smoke.
At that moment, the wailing stormy wind suddenly stopped blowing completely, so that the flames were not extended to the settlement of Rafina. A corresponding phenomenon, a sudden interruption of the wind that pushed the northeast flames, happened at the same time on the opposite side, at the boundary between Matio and St. Andrew. The result was to save the main settlement of Rafina and most importantly, save the area of Agios Andreas where the camps were located.
It should be noted that 600 young children temporarily resorted to the beach of Agios Andreas whilst waiting for the buses to take them to Athens. The area of Agios Andreas is overgrown with pine trees and with lush vegetation, just like Mattia. If the flames had reached this area, an incredible tragedy would unfold, much worse than what happened in Mati.
Note that the fire was expanding at an inconvenient speed, causing people to be trapped in the pass, unable to escape, not even by car. So, the dozens of unfortunate victims of the fire found in the beach at Mati were locked.
The lady, a few days later, visited Father Dorotheos, the Parish Priest of the Temple of the Assumption, the parish Church at Mati. She told him the incident with the priest who sat on the bench next to the chapel of St. Nicholas and showed him the pictures.
He first told her that this chapel does not have a priest and that he does not recognise any clergy in the face of the photos from those who serve in the wider region. In fact, he wondered what a priest can sit there among the wild fire and the smoke. But when he noticed the photographs better, he exclaimed with awe: “This is the face of Saint Paisios!”
The above story of this lady was narrated by Father Dorotheos to my brother, who lives next to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
If you carefully look at the two photographs the lady took, it will distinguish a priest-monk who only wears a robe, holds a prayer rope in his hand and has his body turned towards the flames. The resemblance to Saint Paisios is astonishing. In the closest picture, the cap of Saint Paisios is distinguished in the head of the figure, while on the feet of this figure can be seen flip-flops with socks. Another characteristic of the Saint.
Professor of Law
Source: from Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of Newcastle