Fr. Proclu Nicău was born on the 13th of November 1928. The hermit died on the 28th of January 2017, at the age of 88. Fr. Proclu Nicău, one of Romania’s most significant Orthodox Elders, lived in a humble monastic cell near the forest, in the Mitocul Bălan village, in the Crăcăoani township, in the Neamţ county. The blue-eyed priest, short, but with an ascending mind, spoke holy words that he had been granted through ceaseless prayers, not taken from books or studies.
He was a hieromonk from the age of 13, when he entered the Sihăstria monastery. He had obedient, humble and loving from the beginning. His birth (layman) name was Gheorghe Nicău.
Thus, while he was a brother at the monastery, young Gheorghe Nicău’s mustache used to grow longer (bushier) than his beard and because of this, some of the monks used to make fun of him. He went and complained about this issue to Fr. Macarie, an Elder who lived in asceticism alongside Fr. Cleopa. Then he received the following piece of advice: “If the brothers laugh at you, do the same. Laugh together with them, at your own expense, but don’t laugh at them because if you do, you will lose.” By doing so, he made the brothers humble themselves and the temptation disappeared.
The humble brother Gheorghe Nicău was part of the group of young monks that had been sent by the Patriarch at the Slatina monastery with the purpose of reinvigorating the monastic life in the old monastery. Here, he grew under the guidance of Fr. Cleopa Ilie. In the community of the Slatina monastery, brother Gheorghe Nicău lived for eight years and here he received his monastic tonsure receiving the name Proclu.
When he was dragged out of the monastery by representatives of the Communist Party, Fr. Proclu was sent to work the land (n.a. to work the land of the country was something that the Communists often forced persecuted members of the clergy to do). When he heard the reason for which he had been forced to leave of the monastery, the monk boldly asked: “Why don’t you stop the abortions, so that there may be people to work the land?”. As punishment, the Communists shaved off his beard and hit him over the head.
Later, the Holy Father from the Sihăstria monastery called them back into the community, but the 410 Decree would prevent him from returning. Together with him, many monks were forced to return into the world. For this reason, Fr. Proclu Nicău headed for the Mitocu Bălan village from the Crăcăoani township, where his parental heritage was.
Once arrived at his birthplace, Fr. Proclu withdrew himself in a poor cell, as humble as it was quiet, not far away from the woodside. The priest’s eremitic cell, a wooden room built by himself, resided on a wooden hill, at the feet of the Neamţ mountains. His sister, Georgeta, lived slightly to the north. When he was 82 years old, Fr. Proclu had lived in the cell for almost 50 years.
However, the more he tried to isolate himself from the world, the more the world sought him. Thus, even if the road to his cell is a toilsome one, even though it branches off from the main road that connects the cities of Piatra Neamţ and Târgu Neamţ, it had been walked by many believers, some eager to receive a blessing, others seeking advice, and others perhaps only out of curiosity.
On the locked door of the cell it said: “Please, don’t knock. I’m old and ill.” Nevertheless, the priest almost always used to soften up when he heard the persistent requests of some of the believers who sought spiritual solace and blessing.
When asked why he had chosen to live an eremitic life, far away from society, Fr. Proclu humbly answered: “‘Cause I’m stupid, I have a small mind. ‘Cause if I had a bigger mind, I should stay among people! Truth to say, someone has an animal and they keep it locked up. And someone else asks them why they keep it locked up. «Cause it’s intractable. It bucks.», they’d say. My trick is that I have observed the Holy Fathers and even Christ.”
Fr. Proclu Nicău testified about himself: “I’m with one foot in the grave and with one on the shore. This is all I need: to keep my mouth shut and pray for everyone. Many people come to me. Some leave complacently, it’s a pleasure to talk to them, it’s as if they were filled with the grace of God. With others, it’s more difficult. I don’t give advices. Want to know why? There are plenty of people out there who can give advices: The Church, the spiritual directors, the Holy Ones. I don’t take notice to the fact that the person might have been a member of any particular political party, that they might have belonged to another religion. This is the way I pray for everyone: «God, help them get to Paradise, for if I pray for everyone The Good Lord will receive me too.» I ask those who come to see me to add me to the diptych, to the Holy Liturgies and to the Eucharist.”
Translated into English by Lucian Hodoboc from: https://www.crestinortodox.ro/parinti/parintele-proclu-nicau-125878.html