Gerontissa Makaria Desipri
Referred to by her spiritual children as “Mother of the afflicted”, Gerontissa Makaria was the vessel chosen by God to discover the relics of St Ephraim “the Newly-Revealed” of Nea Makri, north-east of Athens, in 1950. On this same site, she founded the current monastery dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God and remained Abbess for almost 50 years. Makaria born in 1911 in Tinos, to God-fearing parents.
From a young age, she grew to love God and the Church, leading to her monastic tonsure in 1932. In 1945 she visited the ruins of a male monastery located on Mount Amomon near the town of Nea Makri, where she would spend the rest of her life in obedience to God’s calling. There she lived in isolation for several years enduring adverse conditions and illness, whilst labouring to clear the ruins of the monastery. During this time, Makaria speculated on the lives of the martyrs who had watered the earth with their blood in times past and sensed that she was on holy ground. She prayed earnestly that God would overlook her unworthiness and reveal one of the fathers who had lived there previously. After persisting in this prayer over a long time, Makaria heard a voice saying “dig there and you will find what you desire”.
Thus it was that on January 3rd 1950, the blessed Gerontissa was granted the honour of finding the wonder-working relics of St Ephraim. Amongst the many virtues she possessed was that of “philanthropia” – love for her fellow person. Earlier in her life, during the German occupation of World War II, Makaria would visit the female prisons in Athens, comforting the women prisoners and their children. Despite personal illness, she shared deeply in the troubles of those who would come to her and prayed to St Ephraim for his intercessions.
She maintained an orphanage until 1980, which provided basic necessities, education and most importantly, God’s love, to dozens of children. Gerontissa Makaria died on April 23rd 1999 on the feast-day of St George, after receiving the Holy Mysteries. Following her death, her body remained warm and flexible for three days and an inexplicable fragrance accompanied it, signs of the grace given by God to those who love Him with all their heart and soul.
Source: Lychnos June 2018 / July 2018