Elder Aimilianos was born in Athens in 1934 to refugees from Asia Minor. As a young man, he was active in the church both as a youth leader and in catechism duties. Leaving high school, he entered theological college graduating in 1959. Considering ordination as a priest prior to pursuing the role of a foreign missionary, he was directed to Bishop Dionysios of Trikala, who was reviving monastic life in Meteora. Becoming his spiritual child, elder Aimilianos was tonsured a monk and enrolled in the monastery of St Bessarion. There, he was granted a profound mystical experience of the light of God, resulting in him dedicating his life to the ascetic tradition of our church and forsaking his previous ambitions.
As a spell-binding preacher, the elder took the region captive, especially its youth. In a relatively short span of time, Meteora had become home to a large community of young monks! An equal number of women, many related to the monks, also heard the call to monastic life. Within a few years, however, the increasing presence of tourism began to disrupt the spiritual life of the new communities. Hope, however, was found with the aged fathers of the monastery of Simonopetra, who invited the elder and his brotherhood to settle on Mt Athos, and bring new life to their dying community. In 1973, elder Aimilianos was elected abbot of Simonopetra. The presence of the elder and his brotherhood was a critical factor in the contemporary renewal of monastic life on the peninsula.
Elder Aimilianos was also seeking a place for his community of nuns. In the town of Ormylia, the monastery of Vatopedi possessed an old unused dependency, which Simonopetra purchased, restored and extended. The subsequent convent is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos. From 1995, elder Aimilianos began to suffer from an increasingly debilitating illness, forcing him to step down as abbot of Simonopetra. His legacy endures eternally.
Source: Lychnos December 2018 / January 2019