Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain was born on the Greek island of Naxos in
the year 1748, and was named Nicholas at Baptism. At the age of
twenty-six, he arrived on Mount Athos and received the monastic tonsure
in the Dionysiou monastery with the name Nicodemus.
As his first obedience, Nicodemus served as his monastery's secretary.
Two years after his entry into the Dionysiou monastery, the Metropolitan
of Corinth, St Macarius Notaras (April 17), arrived there, and he
assigned the young monk to edit the manuscript of the PHILOKALIA, which
he found in 1777 at the Vatopedi monastery. Editing this book was the
beginning of many years of literary work by St Nicodemus. The young monk
soon moved to the Pantokrator skete, where he was under obedience to
the Elder Arsenius of the Peloponnesos, under whose guidance he
zealously studied Holy Scripture and the works of the Holy Fathers.
In 1783 St. Nicodemus was tonsured to the Great Schema, and he lived in
complete silence for six years. When St Macarius of Corinth next visited
Athos, he gave the obedience of editing of the writings of St. Symeon
the New Theologian to St. Nicodemus, who gave up his ascetic silence and
occupied himself once more with literary work. From that time until his
death he continued zealously to toil in this endeavor.
Not long before his repose, Father Nicodemus, worn out by his literary
work and ascetic efforts, went to live at the skete of the iconographers
Hieromonks Stephen and Neophytus Skourtaius, who were brothers by
birth. He asked them to help in the publication of his works, since he
was hindered by his infirmity. There St. Nicodemus peacefully fell
asleep in the Lord on July 14, 1809.
According to the testimony of his contemporaries, St. Nicodemus was a
simple man, without malice, unassuming, and distinguished by his
profound concentration. He possessed remarkable mental abilities: he
knew the Holy Scriptures by heart, remembering even the chapter, verse
and page, and he could even recite long passages from the writings of
the Holy Fathers from memory.
The literary work of St. Nicodemus was varied. He wrote a preface to the
PHILOKALIA, and short lives of the ascetics. Among the saint's
ascetical works, his edition of Lorenzo Scupoli's book, UNSEEN WARFARE
is well known, and has been translated into Russian, English, and other
languages. A remarkable work of the ascetic was his MANUAL OF CONFESSION
(Venice, 1794, 1804, etc.), summarized in his treatise, "Three
Discourses on Repentance". His most edifying book CHRISTIAN MORALITY was
published in Venice in 1803.
The saint also made great contributions by publishing liturgical books.
Using materials from the manuscript collections of Mt Athos, he
published sixty-two Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos under the title,
NEW THEOTOKARION (Venice, 1796, 1849).
St. Nicodemus prepared a new edition of the the PEDALION or RUDDER,
comprised of the canons of the Holy Apostles, of the holy Ecumenical and
Local Synods, and of the holy Fathers.
St Nicodemus had a special love for hagiography, as attested by his
work, NEW EKLOGION (Venice, 1803), and his posthumous book, THE NEW
SYNAXARION in three volumes (Venice, 1819). He completed a Modern Greek
translation of a book by St Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, PAUL'S
FOURTEEN EPISTLES in three volumes. St. Nicodemus himself wrote AN
INTERPRETATION OF THE SEVEN CATHOLIC EPISTLES (also published at Venice
in 1806 and 1819).
The exceedingly wise Nicodemus is also known as the author and
interpreter of hymns. His Canon in honor of the Mother of God "Quick to
Hear" (November 9) and his "Service and Encomium in Honor of the Fathers
who Shone on the Holy Mountain of Athos" are used even beyond the Holy
Mountain. Some of his other books include the HEORTODROMION, an
interpretation of the Canons which are sung on Feasts of the Lord and of
the Mother of God (Venice, 1836), and THE NEW LADDER, an interpretation
of the 75 Hymns of Degrees (Anabathmoi) of the liturgical book called
the OKTOECHOS (Constantinople, 1844).