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A rumour spread on the Holy Mountain that ancient fathers had appeared who were naked like St. Peter of Athos and St. Onuphrios of Egypt. The rumour said that these were holy fathers of ancient times who had been miraculously preserved and were now appearing. Fathers became excited and imagined that they saw all sorts of things. Posses of monks searched for the naked ones and their cell in order to capture them, to get a blessing from them, etc..

The Elder recalled, “We got caught up in it also and started to search for the naked ones. One morning we visited the parts of St. Anne’s Skete. It was still dark and a light snow started to fall. We came to the center of the skete to the kyriakon. We waited for the fathers to come and open the church to start When the fathers approached it wag already dawn. Suddenly, we heard a commotion. There were shrieks and shouts. We ran from the little porch (enclosure) where vie had been sitting out of the cold. Fathers were shouting, ‘Behold! Behold! Footsteps of the naked ones! Barefoot in the snow!’ We ran behind the others and followed the footsteps to find the ancient fathers.”

While running after the other fathers, the Elder (Joseph) looked down and noticed that he and Fr. Arsenios were barefoot. He stopped and pointed this out to his co-struggler, but Fr. Arsenios being so simple didn’t catch on. The Elder explained that they were the ones who made the footprints. Holding his mouth in astonishment, Fr. Arsenios exclaimed, “Oh oh!”

The Elder Joseph said, “We better get out of here quickly before, they look down and notice that our feet are bare, and say, ‘These are the ones that left these footprints in the snow, having us wander the Mountain and the rocks to find the naked ones.'”

“We backed very quietly and ran for our lives. We hid somewhere and decided that we better stop looking for the naked ones before we get into trouble.”


Elder Joseph the Hesychast (unpublished dissertation)