On the Elder Aimilianos

This interview is with my Archbishop, whom I have come to love and enjoy. His own story is quite interesting. A descendant of Prince Golitzin (one of the Russian royal families) and a child of the Church, his studies at Oxford in Patristics brought him up against a wall of questions and doubts. His doctoral work was on Dionysius the Areopagite. He said in a conversation with me that the press of patristic studies brought him to the point of saying, “What’s all this got to do with Jesus?”

He left Oxford to do studies in Thessaloniki and from there spent time at the monastery of Simonopetra on Mt. Athos where Elder Aimilianos was Abbot. As he relates in this video, it was in the person and life of Elder Aimilianos and his community that the answers to his questions came. He lived at Simonopetra while he completed his dissertation and was tonsured a monk by Aimilianos. He has gone on to become one of the leading scholars in contemporary Orthodoxy, with a profound sense of how the Tradition is rightly lived.

You will need to click on the link within the video post to take you to Youtube where the video may be watched. It is worth the time.


  1. Coincidentally, I watched this particular video prior to receiving your email. Found the video enlightening and answers some questions that are frequently asked but seldom answered.

    Thank you for your post Fr. Stephen.

  2. Thank you Father for posting this video. I think the greatest honor your Bishop gave Elder Aimilianos was naming him as a contemporary Father of the Church.
    His describes how the Elder revived the Greek Church through reviving the monasteries, by re-presenting the Liturgy in splendor and beauty, rather than an asthetic feat of endurance. Now one may think he was “going easy” on his monks, but the way the Bishop describes, the Elder was putting in action what he had envisioned, and Bishop Golitizin “saw”, or it dawned on him … and not without the help of his studies on Saint Dionysius.
    At one point Bishop Golitzin defines heirarchy as “fundamentally, liturgy”, or “structured worship”…”an image of heaven and an image of the human being glorified”. Then he says “the entry into the altar is at the same time an entry into the heart”. And he came to know this by “being there…just showing up!”, that is, before reading the Elder’s works!! Now, I must say, there is nothing more I’d like to know than to fully understand and experience this. “The entry into the altar is at the same time an entry into the heart”….can you even explain this? I think I remember Fr. Schmemann describing something similar. This is something that takes time, isn’t it. Do you think many of the faithful experience this?

    The Bishop’s words are a very thoughtful remembrance of this holy Elder. It was a benefit to hear them.
    Elder Aimilianos, memory eternal.

  3. J T P – you need to click on the part that says, “Watch this video on YouTube.”

  4. Father, this link works for me. I went to youtube and search for Elder Aimilianos and it pop right up at the top: Elder Amilhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5uTbaQibSk

  5. Thank you Father Stephen for honoring Elder Amilianos life and death. I do not know him but I love him and his love for Christ . Memory eternal.

  6. So glad for the video. I’m my search for Orthodoxy (though at the time I didn’t know I was searching) I was in Greece and because I couldn’t go to Mt Athos (duh) I randomly visited the nuns at the Annunciation Monastery in Ormylia, Chalkidiki. They spoke of their father with such endearing respect and love. Since becoming Orthodox, I have wanted to know the name of the monastery I visited and more importantly who this man was. Thank you.

  7. I’d never heard anything about the hierarchy of theologies, only the common philosophical discipline.

  8. Arnold,
    To put it simply, I do believe the hierarchy of theologies that the Bishop and the Elder speak of are gleaned through the study of the mind of St. Dionysius the Areopagite. St Maximus the Confessor incorporates his teachings as well in his works. These teachings are “theology” way beyond the purely philosophical. By what the Bishop says, it is the very thing that opened up the Liturgy to him. I believe he speaks the truth.

  9. Thank you Father. Very beautiful. He inspires me to *try* to read Dionysius Areopagite! (Hoping I understand something.) I will also look for more of his and Elder Aimilanos’ writings

  10. Thank you Father,
    Hearing that is like receiving a healing ointment for the soul.

    Christ is Risen!


  11. Janine,
    Just as your comment came in (and you are very welcome!) I was reading an article by Bishop Golitzin from the Marquette site (“Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism”. A fantastic site, a wealth of information!), where he goes into more detail about some of the things he mentions in the video. Here’s a link to the article, and an excerpt:
    “This brings me to my fifth point: whether Dionysius has in mind the so-to-speak Church of the angels, the “heavenly hierarchy”, or the Church on earth, which he calls “our hierarchy”, he always means worship, the liturgy. In Celestial Hierarchy I.3, arguably the most important passage in his entire corpus in as much as it supplies the great frame for what is to follow, he explains how Christ provides us with “access” (prosagÇg‘) to the Father and fellowship with the heavenly liturgy of the angels:

    It would not be possible for the human intellect to be ordered with that immaterial
    imitation of the heavenly minds unless it were to use the material guide that is proper to it, reckoning the visible beauties as reflections of the invisible splendor,
    the perceptible fragrances as impressions of the intelligible distributions, the
    material lights an image of the immaterial gift of light, the sacred and extensive
    teachings [of the scriptures] [as an image] of the intellect’s intelligible fulfillment,
    the exterior ranks [of clergy and laity] [as an image] of the harmonious and ordered state [hexis] [of the intellect] which is set in order for divine things, and
    [our partaking] of the most divine Eucharist [an image] of participation in Jesus.[46]

    The physical elements of the Church’s worship — here the beauty of the sanctuary, candles, lamps, incense, scripture readings, etc. — all convey spiritual reality. The very ordering of clergy and laity in, presumably, the sanctuary and nave comprises a suggestion of the well-ordered, that is, virtuous soul. All is icon or symbol of a pervasive, unseen reality, the joining of heaven, earth and the soul, which is summed up at the end of the passage with the references to the Eucharist and to Christ.”

    This quote is about half-way through the article. It addresses my question about what Bishop Golitzin meant by ““The entry into the altar is at the same time an entry into the heart”. So here’s some more reading…if you would like!

  12. Paula AZ – How does one get to the list of other articles like the one by Archb. Golitzin? I cannot seem to figure it out. Thanks!

  13. Esmee,
    Here is the link to the Marquette website itself:

    There are numerous articles from various authors, including Bishop Golitzin. But if I am saying this correctly, it is he who “put together” this website (the work was actually done at Marquette University, in Milwaukee). In other words, all the info at the website was brought forth (consolidated?) by him. It was a “work” of his that he saw as needful to the proper understanding of the fullness of Orthodox Christianity (though not the only source of understanding, of coarse). Father Stephen, you explain it best, what motivated the Bishop to do this. I do not think there is another site that presents these historical roots of the Church as does this one. It is truly a blessing.
    On a personal note, one of the things that really captured me was the inclusion of our Syrian roots, in the whole scheme of these Jewish, Semitic roots of the Faith.
    May God heal our divisions! All of them!

    Thanks for asking, Esmee.
    God is good!

  14. Christ is risen!

    A small point of clarification: Abp Alexander has noted more than once that it was one of his grad students who constructed and organized the web site during the time His Eminence taught there. Some of the links are broken, alas, but there is indeed a wealth at the site.


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