Archimandrite Ioannicius (Kotsonis). "Athonite Paterikon".
Many years ago, on the southern outskirts of Katunaki, there lived a very reverent elder with his novice named Spyridon. At first, Spyridon was diligent and obedient in everything. However, over time, the invisible worm of vanity began to corrode his monastic living. He performed excessive deeds, increased number of bows, the number of prayers with the prayer rope, kept vigil for more time without taking permission and blessing from his spiritual father. He began to consider himself much higher than other monks and, little by little, doing his own will, reached the point that he was completely possessed by the spirit of pride.
One night, he heard someone knocking on his cell, saying: “Through the prayers...”. He opened the door and saw an Angel in front of him. But it was an Angel only in appearance, and not in essence.
“I have been sent by God Almighty Himself to declare to you that many of your deeds and virtues are pleasing to Him,” the pseudo-angel told him. - So, God, in order to reward you, is calling you to ascend with me today to the top of Mount Athos, where He will come with the angelic armies and with the ranks of saints, so that you worship Him.
So said the devil who appeared in the form of an Angel, and Spyridon, since he was blinded by the darkness of pride, without praying, followed him, left by grace. It was winter, there were heavy snowfalls. After many hours, they climbed to the top of Mount Athos. The one who pretended to be a bright angel joyfully says to Spyridon:
- Look over there. Can you see, Christ is coming?
Spyridon looked and saw some kind of red disk, in the center of which Christ was sitting on the throne in the bishop's vestments. Around him, there were moving waves of the ranks of angels and holy apostles, hierarchs, venerable ones, righteous men and women. Ahead of the saints, there was St. Spyridon of Trimythous, whose appearance especially attracted the attention of the unfortunate Spyridon.
Meanwhile, the demon in the form of an angel rushed him:
- What are you staring at like a fool? Can't you see that Christ himself is here? Go quickly and bow to Him.
Spyridon took a step forward, but hesitated. Apparently, someone was praying for him at that moment. With curiosity, he noticed that Saint Spyridon had a very large skoufia on his head, about a meter high, while on the icons he had used to see his saint in a little skoufia. Crossing himself, he said:
- Lord, have mercy! I have never seen such a big skoufia in my life!
In this very moment, all these visions and ideas disappeared, and Spyridon was alone in front of the abyss. One leg stood in the snow, and the other one was lifted over a terrible abyss to step forward.
It took him twelve hours to return to his kalyva, where he found his elder crying and praying.
With tears of contrition, he told him everything.
The elder imposed a penance on him not to receive communion for three years, and the confessor sent him for three years to the strict cenobitic monastery of St. Dionysius to wash plates. So Spyridon really humbled himself and later with tears told all the fathers, and especially the new monks, about his misadventures and about the terrible death that the elder’s prayer saved him from.