Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Confession of Aliki Vougiouklaki at the Monastery of Saint Ephraim of Nea Makri

Aliki Vougiouklaki was one of the most popular actresses in Greece, and was given the title of the National Star of Greece. She died on 23 July 1996 at the age of 62, just three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while touring in Thessaloniki for a performance of "The Sound of Music". Her funeral was held in the Athens Cathedral on 25 July 1996 and she was buried in the First Cemetery of Athens.

A month before her death, in June of 1996, Vougiouklaki visited the Monastery of Saint Ephraim in Nea Makri. Archimandrite Philotheos Theodoropoulos, who was present during this visit, revealed the emotional conversation that Aliki Vougiouklaki had with the abbess Makaria at the monastery she founded and to whom Saint Ephraim wondrously revealed his martyrdom and the location of his relics:

"At 3:00pm the bell at the Monastery of Saint Ephraim rang. She [Aliki] was welcomed by the late nun Paraskevi. I hurried along with her.

I saw the late Aliki Vougiouklaki, who was accompanied by the actor Kostas Spyropoulos and a relative, and I remember that she was obviously emaciated, but well-groomed. Aliki offered her veneration while being supported in the Chapel of the Annunciation.

As soon as the abbess Makaria saw her, she said to her, 'My Aliki!' and she embraced her.

At that moment Aliki Vougiouklaki, like a small child, fell into the arms of the abbess and burst into tears. I can't forget this image. We all then sat together in the abbess's cell.

After a while, Aliki confessed: 'I have cancer, eldress, in the pancreas. From a very young age, I realized how temporal we are. My unjust orphanhood has marked me all my life. I knew, despite my success, that the thread of my life could be cut short at any time. I may not be a person of God [meaning she didn't regularly attend church], but I believe deeply in the Panagia.'"