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Nicodemus the Hagiorite


Monk; b. Naxos, 1748; d. Mt. Athos, July 14, 1809. He was baptized Nicholas; he made his studies at Smyrna and retired to Naxos in 1770 to escape Turkish reprisals. In 1775 he entered mount athos, where he took the name Nicodemus. An encounter with Macarius of Corinth in 1777 confirmed his scholarly aspirations and he was persuaded to prepare an augmented edition of Macarius's Philocalia, or collection of oriental patristic texts dealing with mental prayer. This edition had a great influence on the revival of hesychasm and the jesus prayer. His revised edition of Macarius's work on frequent Communion was condemned by Procopius of Smyrna in 1785, but his position was accepted as orthodox by the Synod of Constantinople in 1819.

Nicodemus, a prolific writer, contributed to the development of hagiographical, liturgical, scriptural, mystical, and canonical interest in the Oriental churches. His most important work, the Pedalion, or Rudder of the Ship of Knowledge, is a commentary on Greek canon law, which manifests certain anti-Roman tendencies. These are usually attributed to interpolations by its editor, the monk Theodoritus, though Nicodemus elsewhere manifests obvious prejudices against Roman ecclesiastical institutions. Nevertheless, to stimulate the cultivation of mental prayer he published, in modern Greek, adaptations of both the Spiritual Combat of Lorenzo scupoli and the Spiritual Exercises of ignatius loyola. His Philocalia (Venice 1782), or collection of writings on spiritual sobriety, and his Enchiridion of Counsels (Venice 1801), or doctrine of the custody of the five senses, the imagination, and the heart are of major influence in the contemporary Greek spirituality.

Nicodemus was solemnly canonized a saint of the Greek Church on May 31, 1955. A third edition of the Philocalia (Athens 1958) caused a considerable revival of interest in his writings.

Bibliography: v. grumel, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 24:1321; Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 11.1:486490. p. meyer, "Beiträge zur Kenntnis der neueren Geschichte und des gegenwärtigen Zustandes der Athosklöster," Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 11 (1889) 395435, 539576. l. petit, "La Grand controverse des Colybes," Échos d'Orient 2 (1899) 321331. m. viller, Revus d'ascétique et de mystique 5 (1924) 174177.

[g. a. maloney]

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