Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession)
by His Grace, BASIL, Bishop of Wichita
Almost all that were wounded by sin left hierarchs and confessors and ran to
shabbily dressed Nikodemos, in order to find their cure and consolation from
their afflictions; not only monks from monasteries, sketes and kellia, but also
many Christians from various places. 
In his Introduction to the first English language publication of St Nikodemos'
'Handbook of Spiritual Counsel' (Symbouleutikon Encheiridion)
George S. Bebis wrote "There is no doubt that 'The Manual of Confession' (Exomologetarion)
is one of the most impressive of the books of St Nikodemos, an edifying and
helpful spiritual book" and later mused that "An English translation of this
book would be most beneficial." The Exomologetarion to which he makes reference
was first published in the year 1794 at the press of Nicholas Glykeus of
Ioannina in Venice and has since seen numerous reprintings (e.g. 1804, 1818,
1868, 1893), including a 1799 translation published in Constantinople in the
Turkish language (though in Greek characters) intended for the use of Turkish
speaking Greek Orthodox Christians. Now, thanks to the inspired work of the
Reverend George Dokos, who translated the work from Greek into English, and the
devotion to the Patristic phronema
by the Reverend Peter Heers of Uncut
Mountain Press, we hold in our hands the long-awaited English translation of
the Exomologetarion composed by our Venerable and Godbearing Father Nikodemos
The son of Anthony Kallivourtsis and his wife Anastasia
(Agatha in monasticism), St Nikodemos was born on the Aegean island of Naxos,
one of the Cyclades, in 1749 and baptized with the name Nicholas. His first
teacher was Archimandrite Chrysanthos Aitolos (+1785), brother of the New Martyr
and Peer-of-the Apostles, St Cosmas Aitolos (1714-1779). In 1764 young
Nicholas was taken by his father to Smyrna where he was enrolled as a boarding
student at the famous Evangelike Schole where he studied under the
renowned educator Hierotheos Voulismas. Because of the violent persecution of
Christians by the Turks which broke out in 1770, Nicholas fled Smyrna and
returned to his native island of Naxos where, for the next five years, he served
as grammateus (secretary) and synkellos (attendant) to
Anthimos Vardis, the Metropolitan of Paros and Naxos. It was during this period
of his life that he came into contact with three Athonite monks Hieromonks
Gregory and Niphon and Elder Arsenios the Peloponnesian who, because they were
Kollyvades, were exiled from the Holy Mountain and had found refuge
on Naxos. It was from these three monastics that Nicholas first learned of
Athonite asceticism and spiritual life, including the practice of unceasing
prayer and hesychia.
In the year 1775, Nicholas, now having an insatiable
desire to be formed in the monastic life, traveled to the small island of Hydra
in order to meet the greatest Kollyvas, St Makarios Notaras (1731-1835), the Metropolitan of
Corinth. Thus began his association with St Makarios which, over the next
several decades, resulted in their collaborating to produce numerous
soul-profiting works. While on Hydra, Nicholas also made the acquaintance of
another experienced holy elder, Sylvester of Caesarea, whose life and counsels
inspired in young Nicholas an even greater longing for a life of stillness and
unceasing prayer. Thus, later that year, twenty-six year old Nicholas left
Hydra for the Holy Mountain, bearing letters of recommendation from Elder
Arriving on the Holy Mountain, Nicholas went to the
Sacred Monastery of Dionysiou where he made his metanoia before the holy Elder
Makarios Dionysiatis and began his formal monastic formation. There he was
tonsured a monk of the Microschema, having his baptismal name of Nicholas changed to Nikodemos. He
remained at Dionysiou for the next two years.
In 1777 his friend and spiritual guide, St Makarios of
Corinth, visited the Holy Mountain. St Nikodemos met with him at Karyes, the
capital of the Holy Mountain, and began what would become a lifelong
collaboration of producing spiritual masterpieces by preparing for publication
The Philokalia (first edition published in Venice in 1782), The
Evergetinos (first edition published in Venice in 1783), and Peri tes
Synechous Metalepseos ton Theion Mysterion or 'Concerning Continual
Communion of the Divine Mysteries' (first edition published in Venice in
1783). After St Makarios departed from the Holy Mountain, St Nikodemos was
given hospitality at the kelli of St George commonly known as the
kelli of the Skourtaioi. Here a bond of love was forged between St
Nikodemos and that brotherhood which would nourish and sustain him (both
spiritually and physically!) on many occasions through the remainder of his
Having learned of the spiritual giant and
divinely-minded coenobiarch St Paissii Velichkovskii (1722-1794), who,
having been trained in hesychasm on
the Holy Mountain, was serving as Schema-Archimandrite at the Moldavian
Monastery of Neamts (in present day Romania) and spiritual father to over one
thousand monks, St Nikodemos determined that he would visit him and receive
spiritual sustenance. He began his journey to Neamts by boarding a ship, but
shortly after its departure a violent storm arose at sea which forced the ship
to moor at the island of Thassos. Abandoning his plans to visit St Paissii, St
Nikodemos returned to the Holy Mountain and eventually settled at a skete near
Pantocratoros where he placed himself under obedience to one of his first
instructors in the ascetic life, the famous Elder Arsenios the Peloponnesian,
who had returned to Athos from his exile on Naxos. In 1782, when Elder Arsenios
again withdrew from the Holy Mountain, this time to the tiny and barren island
of Skyropoula (south of Athos and across from Euboia), St Nikodemos accompanied
him and struggled together with him in asceticism for one year, living, as St
Nikodemos himself writes, "the life of a worker and laborer: digging, sowing,
harvesting, and every day doing all the other things by which the toilsome life
on barren islands is characterized." 
In 1783 St Nikodemos returned to the Holy Mountain where
he was tonsured a monk of the Megaloschema by the holy Elder
Damascene Stavroudas. He then purchased and withdrew to the kalyva of
Theonas near Pantocratoros, where he was joined by a fellow Naxian (named John
in the world, but Hierotheos in monasticism) who served him for six years as his
disciple and synkellos
1784 his friend and patron, St Makarios of Corinth visited the Holy Mountain
for a second time and encouraged St Nikodemos to correct and prepare for
publication many edifying works. It was at this time that St Nikodemos began
his composition of our present book, the Exomologetarion or 'The Manual of
Confession' which is a compilation drawn from various works and Exomologetaria
from libraries throughout the Holy Mountain, including that by Chrysanthos of
Jerusalem, combined with the Saint's own inspired spiritual counsels.
St Nikodemos' Exomologetarion is as masterpiece of spiritual insight and
direction which is composed of three distinct sections: the first being the
qualifications of a true confessor, the second being the thirty-eight canons
and seventeen penances of St John 'the Faster' together with commentaries
and interpretations, and the third being St Nikodemos' own fatherly counsels
and a homily concerning the Mystery of Confession.
After spending two decades exploring the manuscript-rich
monastic libraries on the Holy Mountain, editing and authoring scores of
spiritual books, and composing sacred hymns for numerous saints, St Nikodemos
returned in 1809 to the kelli of his beloved Skourtaioi brotherhood. On
July 5 of that year he suffered a stroke from which he was never to recover.
Knowing that the end of his earthly life was drawing near, St Nikodemos made his
confession, was anointed with the Euchelion in the Mystery of Holy
Unction and, each day, partook of the Immaculate Body and Precious Blood. On
July 13 he asked that the sacred relics of two of his spiritual fathers, Ss
Makarios and Parthenios, be brought to him. Having reverently kissed and
embraced them, he made the sign of the Cross, crossed his hands on his breast,
straightened his legs, and patiently awaited his falling asleep in Christ which
came quietly early the next morning July 14, 1809. He was buried at the
kelli of the Skourtaioi.
In 1953 the Sacred Monastery of Megesti Lavra, oldest
and first in rank among the twenty ruling monasteries of the Holy Mountain, of
which the kelli of the
Skourtaioi is a dependency, petitioned the Holy Synod of the Oecumenical
Patriarchate for the glorification of St Nikodemos. Two years later, on May 31,
1955, the Holy Synod issued the Synodical Decree whereby the "clarion of the
Spirit and teacher of virtue," the "shabbily dressed" Nikodemos the
Hagiorite was officially numbered among the saints of the One, Holy, Catholic
and Apostolic Church. May his blessings be upon this book to the glory of
the All-holy Trinity and the upbuilding of Holy Orthodoxy, and by his
intercessions may we all be saved.
+ B a s i l
Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
July 14, 2005
The Commemoration of St Nikodemos the Hagiorite
 See the earliest Vita of St Nicodemos, written just
four years after his repose by his fellow-struggler the Monk Euthymios: Bios
kai Politeia kai Agones tou Hosiologiotatou kai Makaritou kai Aoidimou Nikodemou
Monachou ("The Life, Conduct and Struggles of the Most Holy and Most
Learned Monk Nicodemos of Blessed Memory") in the journal Gregorios Palamas
(1920), 636-641 and (1921), 210-218. For an English language translation of
the Vita from his Akolouthia authored in Greek by the Monk
Gerasimos Micragiannanitis, see Constantine Cavarnos, Modern Orthodox
Saints, Vol. 3, St Nicodemos the Hagiorite (Belmont,
MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1974), 64-95.
 Peter A. Chamberas, trans., Nicodemos of the
Holy Mountain: A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel (New York: Paulist Press, 1989).
 Ibid., 41.
 Ibid., 43.
 The designation 'Hagiorite' indicates that St
Nicodemos was a monk of the Holy Mountain (Hagion Oros) which is also known as Mount Athos.
 See Constantine Cavarnos, Modern Orthodox
Saints, Vol. 1, St Cosmas Aitolos
(Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1971). St
Cosmas was glorified by the Oecumenical Patriarchate in 1961. His annual feast
is kept on August 24.
 For a brief but very fine description of the
Kollyvades movement, see Chamberas, Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain: A
Handbook of Spiritual Counsel,
 See Constantine Cavarnos, Modern Orthodox
Saints, Vol. 2, St Macarios of Corinth (Belmont, MA: Institute for
Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1972). St Macarios' Vita and
Akolouthia, authored by Nicephoros the Chian, were first
published in 1863. His annual feast is kept on April 17.
 The Lesser Schema. A monk or nun of this degree is known as being a
Stavrophor or of the Mandyas.
 For a listing of the more than one hundred
published and unpublished works of St Nicodemos, see Cavarnos, Modern
Orthodox Saints, Vol. 3, St Nicodemos the Hagiorite, 96-114.
 See J.M.E. Featherstone, trans. The Life of
Paisii Velichkovsky (Boston,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1989). St Paissii was glorified by the
Patriarchate of Moscow in 1988. His annual feast is kept on November 15.
 See Gerasimos Micragiannanitis, Akolouthia tou
Hosiou kai Theophorou hemon Patros kai Didaskalou Nikodemou tou Hagioreitou
("Akolouthia of our Venerable and Godbearing Father and Teacher Nicodemos
the Hagiorite") in a phyllada
 The Great Schema. A monk or nun of this degree is known as being of the
Great and Angelic Schema
 A cell-mate and attendant.
 Patriarch John IV 'Nesteutes' of Constantinople (582-595). His annual feast
is kept on September 2.
 This is a phrase from the Apolytikion of St
Nicodemos which, together with his Vita and Akolouthia, was composed by the late great contemporary
hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ, the Monk Gerasimos Micragiannanitis
(+1991). See footnote 12.
 St Nicodemos' annual feast is kept on the date of his repose, July 14.
From Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession), by St.
Nikodemos the Hagiorite (Thessaloniki, Greece: 2006,
Uncut Mountain Press). Order today from
Uncut Mountain Supply! Posted on 10 March, 2006 (n.s.).