This is the amazing story of a blind shepherd, Ioannis Hasiotis, who knows by heart all 27 books of the New Testament! Ioannis Hasiotis [Ιωάννης Χασιώτης in Greek] was born in a small mountain village, Milia, Metsovo (height 1300m) in 1947. After completing primary school, he started to tend his sheep, following the example of his father. There, one of his village friends approached him and offered him a prayer book to keep him company in his hours of solitude. While reading it, he saw references to the New Testament and wanted to acquire a copy.
In the meantime, he was diagnosed with a serious eye disease and doctors warned him that in 20 years’ time, he will gradually lose his sight. Fearing that with this health issue, he would not be able to read the New Testament in the future, he embarked on a wrestle with time to learn it all by heart. Thus, he succeeded in learning by heart the whole New Testament in three years, at the age of 25! In particular, he mastered the 14 Epistles of Saint Paul in 8 months and 10 days!
Ioannis does not recite the New Testament mechanically, which would be very difficult on its own, but critically so. He knows in detail the chapter and the verse of any New Testament quotation, how many times and where a specific reference may be encountered, which quotations refer, for example, to the divinity of Jesus, or the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and so on and so forth. Today, Ioannis Hasiotis is 76 years old, retired, married, with 3 children, and blind. A humble soul close to the Church and Her sacraments and services. Ioannis bears with thanksgiving the Cross of blindness, offers continual thanksgiving to our Lord, and recites the whole New Testament by heart at least once a week!
In the following Youtube link, you can watch him recite excerpts from the New Testament to Professors of Theology!
The following Youtube link is a playlist of some of his interviews and ‘homilies’ in local channels
To this Gift of His Love, I would love to add a brief excerpt from an all-time classic, which I have repeatedly featured in this blog, Abbess Thaisia, An Autobiography, Ch. 4 “Preparation for a New Life”
where she describes how and why she learned by heart the Holy Gospel by the age of 16-17. “The book I loved most and treasured above all was the Holy Gospel. Not only did its words give comfort and sweetness to my soul, but I also felt a strange need to have these words always with me and never be separated from them. This not being feasible or possible, I set myself the task of learning the Holy Gospel by heart.
Thanks to my good memory, this gave me no difficulty at all, and soon enough I had learned by heart, word for word, the Slavonic text of all the Gospel events and teachings by those evangelists who gave a more detailed version of them.” Then follows a detailed description of her “performance” before the Bishop on the day of her last graduation examination, where the Bishop asked her to recite by heart chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel according to St. John—the parting words of our Saviour to His disciples. (pp49-51)
May we follow their example! As St. Efraim the Syrian, the mystic and the poet, whose memory we honour today, acknowledges “Scripture brought me to the Gate of Paradise, and the mind stood in wonder as it entered.”