The video below was recorded on 20 October 2013 in Kefallonia, Greece on the feast day of St. Gerasimos, the island’s patron. His incorrupt relic is kept in the Holy Monastery there which bears his name, and on this feast day it was taken out and processed as a blessing to the island, and for the numerous pilgrims gathered. This sacred relic, even its shadow, carries the Grace of the Holy Spirit, and it is customary for the suffering and eager faithful to line up underneath the spot, over which it will pass, in order to receive a special blessing. Much like a medical scanner, it passes over the people often relieving them of their illnesses, pain, and especially demons. At approximately 1:15 in the video, you will see a young woman crying out (in Greek) “You are burning me”, as the relic passes over her. She then yells for the Saint to go away, screaming, among other things, “Leave Gerasimos … you made my sorcery go away … they (the demons) left me … you destroyed me Gerasimos … you made the two women depart … go away!” As the relic leaves her, one man can be heard remarking “You see what sorcery does.”
St. Gerasimos, the New Ascetic of Kefallonia (1506-1579) is a renowned healer of the possessed. The demonically possessed, and the mentally ill flock daily to his holy shrine to receive healing. Through God’s Grace, he became an exorcist, acquiring this Grace through great spiritual discipline, fasting, and prayer.
The Saint lived as an ascetic on Mount Athos for five years in a place known as Kapsala. Throughout this time he survived only on boiled zucchini with no oil. It was there that he gained many spiritual experiences, and received the monastic tonsure. The demons had no power over him, but rather God gave him the power to cast them out. His nickname became “Kapsalis” (“the burning one”), after the desolate place of Kapsala. The demons would often cry out: “Kapsalis, you have burned us.”
St. Gerasimos acquired such power over the demons, that when he later traveled to the Holy Land he desired to imitate the forty day fast of the Lord in the same desert in which Jesus faced the trials of Satan. For forty days he ate nothing in the wilderness, and conquered Satan. Gerasimos would later go on to Kefallonia and establish the monastery there which today bears his name. It has since become a refuge for those battling and possessed by demons.
“The insane are the Saint’s expertise” according to Father Ioannis Mesoloras, “which is why there are special quarters for them to do their forty days of fasting and prayer in order to be absolved of the demons that have conquered them.” The possessed and the mentally ill are called to imitate St. Gerasimos as much as possible during these forty days in order to find favor with the Lord so that He may bestow His mercy and grace upon them, freeing them from demonic power.
Many reported miracles of healing have taken place over the years at the Monastery of St. Gerasimos in Kefallonia. Below are some famous ones that relate specifically to demonic possession:
+ In 1923, two girls (ten year old Elaine Stephanatou, from the village Kalavathi, and twelve year old Elpiniki Vaslatou, from the village Razaton) became possessed. They were brought to the monastery by their parents hoping that their children would be cured. All the nuns pitied them and helped pray for the children. On August 16, 1923, during the Divine Liturgy, both girls were cured.
+ Once, there was a monk from the Monastery of Saint Paul on Mount Athos who had gone to the Church of Saint Gerasimos on the island of Kefallonia. During the Divine Liturgy, he stood inside the sanctuary and was praying with his komboskini (A komboskini is a knotted prayer rope, similar to rosary beads found in the Christian West). He was repeating a variation of the Jesus Prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon us”. Outside the people had brought a possessed person into the church to be cured by Saint Gerasimos. While the monk was saying the Prayer in the altar, the demon was being seared outside and was shouting: “Stop working that string, will you, monk, it is burning me.” The priest heard it, too, and said to the monk: “Pray with the komboskini as much as you can, my brother, so that God’s creature can be freed of the demon.” The demon then shouted in great anger: “You, rotten priest, you. What are you telling him to pull that string for? It is burning me!” The monk then prayed with his komboskini with even greater effort and the possessed man was delivered from the demon.
+ From an eye-witness: “A woman had a demon and the demons tremble at simply hearing of the name of the Saint”. The woman remained at the monastery for a period of time, given hospitality by the nuns, and at a Divine Liturgy the demon could not bear it. Later, she herself recounted that she felt something with power leave her body. “I must say that a few days before I arrived, and when the priest was performing the Holy Unction, and when the time came for the priest to anoint this woman with the demon, she got up and said a phrase that I remembered characteristically. ‘Is it not enough that the old priest that stays here doesn’t leave me in peace day or night, and today you with the oil, the two of you will burn me?'” As soon as she was anointed, the demon was so shaken that the woman fell down unconscious, and after a few days by the grace of the Saint she was freed.”
+ One young man relates how he happened to be traveling in Kefallonia during the feast of St. Gerasimos. When he arrived at the monastery, he says that loud screams were coming from the demon possessed inside the church. They were saying “You are burning me, Gerasimos. You are burning me Kapsali.” Everyone understood that in the church there was a spiritual battle going on around them that they could hear, but not see.
+ More recently, a fashionable young woman who was possessed and seeking healing from St. Gerasimos was in the monastery for about an hour, screaming. She then ran over to a young man and grabbed his jacket roughly (this man, it was later discovered, had just come from Australia two days prior). She said to him:
“Hey John, you left your fiance in Kambera and have now come to Kapsali…and you had that married woman…why? What have you found better here? And on the way your aeroplane almost fell over Singapore…that was me who would have dropped the plane, but the Nazarene and Gerasimos would not let me, so you were saved…” She then began to say names of people unknown to her that lived thousands of miles away that he knew and would talk about instances of doing things to them but prevented from going further by “the Nazarene and Gerasimos”.
A priest then told some in the crowd: “The things you heard are nothing compared to what really happens. This girl was brought here from Xanthi. With some fellow students she had gone to two men named Christos and Gazoro to be told about their future. After this, she became possessed and now her family takes her from one monastery to another. For hours on end, she tells people the secrets of their lives as she told the young man in the jacket. You must beware however. The Holy Fathers say to not put our trust in the demon possessed. Sometimes they say secrets, but only as much as Christ allows them to say, and other times they say lies. If they tell you five truths, and see you believe them, the sixth time they will lie to get you to enter into a dispute with a neighbor. Only those who have gone to Confession are prevented from being called out by the demon possessed…they are blocked. They reveal the sins of the unconfessed, even from among the priests.”
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O believers, let us praise the protector of the Orthodox, the God-bearing miracle-worker lately appearing to us, the incarnate angel, Gerasimos. For he has rightly received from God the ever-flowing grace of performing healing. He strengthens those with diseases and he heals those with demons. And therefore he pours out healings to those who honor him.