Category 4 Hurricane Ian raged through the American southeast and the Caribbean from September 23 to October 2. It caused catastrophic damage in parts of southwestern Florida, bringing strong storm winds and rain to those regions. Millions of people were left without electricity and many residents were forced to take refuge on their roofs from flooding. As of October 3, this natural disaster has claimed the lives of 83 Floridians with at least a thousand people still missing. Among the affected cities are Naples, Sanibel, and Fort Myers.
North of Fort Myers, the oldest Orthodox Christian monastery in Florida, St.Nicholas the Wonderworker, is located. A devastating cyclone swept through that region on September 28. During that day intensive prayers and akathists were said in the monastery. In answer to those prayers, the water did not rise above the land and flood the monastic property. Although the hurricane itself passed through its grounds, there was no serious damage to the monastery’s buildings. Miraculously, many tall trees fell between them without hitting and destroying any of them. One old palm tree fell on the monastic church, but did not damage the structure. The only destruction was an old wooden garage/shed in which agricultural machinery was stored.
This miraculous salvation of St. Nicholas is attributed to the intercession of its founder, Elder John of Florida, whose incorruptible relics rest in the monastery along with those of more than 600 saints from the Apostles to the ascetics of the 20th century who are constantly praying for the monastery and the Floridian land. “Glory to Thee, Lord!” were the words of gratitude with which the clergy and parishioners thanked God for the preservation of the monastery as well as for the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos and the saints.
The Monastery is located on a large area of 6 acres, in which trees, shrubs and other vegetation grow densely. After the hurricane, the fallen trees and other debris were removed. The clean-up began immediately after the storm by the parishioners, local residents and brethren of the monastic community led by Archimandrite Alexander, the Hegumen (Abbot) of St. Nicholas.
We thank all those who participated in the cleaning up of the monastic grounds and are grateful to everyone who helped in the recovery. The monastery however, still needs assistance in overcoming the consequences of the hurricane. We ask those who are willing to help for the glory of God and for the benefit of the Church to join us directly in our efforts to restore the premises or provide financial support.
Lord save us!