One morning, after the Divine Liturgy, I went to the Church Office. A 50yr old gentleman came to see me there. I didn’t know him nor had I seen him at Church before. He spoke to me about a 42yr old man who was admitted in the Hospital of Piraeus. He had cancer. It had spread and had gone to his brain. The doctors had confirmed that nothing could be done to save him. He was taking large quantities of medication but they did not help.
The man in my office told me that he was a close relative of the patient. He asked me to go and give him Holy Communion.
Indeed, I went to the hospital reverently carrying the Holy Communion. When I entered the patient’s room I acknowledged that he was really in a very bad state. Just as it was made aware to me by another close relative, the cancer had rapidly spread to the brain. There was no chance for survival. His days were numbered. He was the only one in the room. The bed next to him was empty. At one stage, he came out of his coma and opened his eyes. He saw me and with some difficulty told me the following:
“My family brought me to this practice 35 days ago. An 80yr old had been admitted in the bed next to me. This patient had been affected with bone cancer. The poor man also was in horrific pain. Despite his pain, he continually said out loud: “Glory to You, oh God, Glory to You, oh God” and then said other various prayers.
I was an atheist. I was hearing all this for the first time. I had never stepped foot in Church. But much to my surprise I saw that after his prayers, he would be calm and would sleep peacefully for 2-3 hours. Then again he would wake up and groan from the unbearable pain. Once again, he began to pray: “Glory to You, Oh God!”
I who was suffering immensely, was groaning form pain, yet he despite his pain, glorified God. From my frustration and pain, I blasphemed Christ and the Mother of God. On the contrary, despite his pain, this old man thanked God for the cancer that he gave him. I was getting fed up while hearing him in my pain. He practically every day, requested to receive Holy Communion.
I the filthy one, continuously swore at him. I would say “Shut up! Shut up finally! Can’t you see that the God you glorify is torturing us severely with this cursed illness. What God? There is no God! The old man would hear me and calmly reply: “He exists, my child, God does exist and He is a loving Father. Through the suffering of the illness He gave us we are being cleansed of our many sins…”. Although, the old man’s replies made me even more angry. I began once again to blaspheme gods and demons. I started yelling out and saying: “God doesn’t exist! I don’t believe in anything, nor in God, nor in His Heavenly Kingdom or in the next world.
Then the old man would calmly reply: “You wait and you will see with your own eyes how the soul of a believing Christian separates from the body. I am a sinner, but the grace of God will save me. Wait and you will see and believe!” I saw him continually glorifying God and His Holy Mother. He would say a specific Prayer that repeated the phrase “Hail” for the Virgin Mary (from the Salutations of the Akathist). He also chanted the Hymns “Oh Virgin, Birth-Giver of God” and “It is truly meet to bless you”.
At one stage he stopped and I heard him say: “Welcome, my Guardian Angel! I thank you for coming with such a brilliant party to receive my soul!”. In great shock I opened my eyes to see the old man’s visitors. The old man did the sign of the Cross, he crossed his arms on his chest and had his last breath! Suddenly the hospital room was filled with a powerful light as if illuminated by ten suns. I, the unbeliever, the atheist, the materialist, saw THIS MIRACLE with my own eyes. An extremely beautiful fragrance filled the air. I was dumbfounded. The old man was right.
I then called my parents and told them everything that I had witnessed and experienced. I told them off because they had never spoken to me about the existence of God. I then invited my friends and family to come close to me. I asked them firmly to speak to me of these issues which I had not been taught by anyone. My Rev. Father, I now believe that God truly exists. This is why I am asking you to confess me and give me Holy Communion!”.
A Miracle in the Orthodox Church – How an Atheist Cancer Patient Believed in God, by Antonios Tenedios, Skalohori, Mytilini Greeece