Saint Nectarios of Aegina is one of the most renowned Greek saints, but probably little-known elsewhere. It’s time that changed, says Sorted’s Andy Godfrey.

Beautifully acted, shot and directed, this inspirational and compelling biopic tells a story that I didn’t know, but I’m glad I do now. 

Man of God brings to life the incredible true story of Saint Nectarios of Aegina (1846–1920), a man worth hearing about. Canonised in 1961, his place in history should now be more widely recognised.

This is a film which makes you realise how easily the Church can become embroiled in politics and scandal, and that corruption can creep into the highest places in religion. Played by Greek actor Aris Servatalis, who mainly speaks English throughout, Nectarios was exiled from Egypt by the Orthodox Church leaders for the crime of being – frankly – too good. He was unwilling to engage with the politics of the day and to compromise his position in order for personal advancement. He wound up working as a priest on the small Greek island of Aegina. Even here he was faced with persecution and misunderstanding due to the way he conducted himself and his ministry. 

IN THE WILDERNESS: Aris Servatalis and Alexander Petrov – and friends

It was here that he became a veritable local legend. He went out of his way to help provide for the poor, taught young people to read, set up a nunnery and had various miracles attributed to him – including the healing of a lame man, played by Micky Rourke.

ROURKE’S DRIFT: “Holy man of God, will you please pray for me?”

The story – as it unfolds – is a deeply moving one of a man who was totally and utterly committed to the ‘way of Jesus’ and had total and utter faith in God to provide for all his needs. His faith, as portrayed here, is so strong that he would begin projects and seek to help people before the necessary resources were available. He simply trusted that God would give him what he needed.

The film is shot in black and white, and the stark photography brings the compelling story to life in vivid detail. The performances are all top-notch and Russian writer-director Yelena Popovich makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen as we are immersed in the world of 19th century Greece. A lovely, understated score accompanies our central character as he fights battle after battle to maintain his reputation and ministry. 

This is a wonderful film that demands to be seen and I would urge you to seek it out. A remarkable account of a remarkable man who achieved remarkable things and was eventually – long after his death – finally recognized for being the saint he was. 

Andy Godfrey

Andy Godfrey is a speaker with Outreach UK and has been in full-time Christian work for many years. He is a founding member of the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society and has a collection of nearly 3,000 movies. He’s also an ardent Bristol City fan.

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