Man Of God
by Willard Manus
MAN OF GOD is a worthy and compelling film about a Greek Orthodox priest who in 1961 was named a saint, as a reward for his remarkable achievements as a man of the cloth. Nektarios (played by Greeces leading actor, Aris Servetalis) is a young priest in Egypt in 1890 when the film opens. His intelligence, deep faith and love for his work have endeared him to many of his peers, especially those of his generation. But Nektarios also has many enemies in the church, older and powerful priests who disapprove of his attachment to the poor and needy, his free-thinking and defiant nature.
This isnt to say Nektarios is rebelling against the church; on the contrary, he is a true believer. But its a belief deeply rooted in Christs admonitions to participate in the suffering of the needy and afflicted. The establishment comes down hard on him, denounces him for consorting with harlots in the street and being too close to people. Accused of a trumped-up crime, he is banished from Egypt and sent to Evia, Greece and designated as a preacher (one rank below priest).
Things arent much easier for him there. Because he was born in a section of Greece which became Turkish after his birth, he is not considered to be a true Greek and therefore is not eligible to eventually become a village priest. So he ends up as the head master of a religious academy in Athens, where he slowly wins the trust and respect of the students and locals.
of his rambunctious young students throw a wild party, he is blamed for
their behavior and censured for his soft treatment of them.
To repent he goes on a three-day hunger strike, which only further enrages
the authorities, who declare that asceticism is a thing of the past.