Saint Nectarius, the great wonderworker of modern times, was born Anastasius Kephalas in Selebria, Thrace on October 1, 1846.
Since his family was poor, Anastasius went to Constantinople when he was fourteen in order to find work. Anastasius found a job with a tobacco merchant in Constantinople, who did not pay him very much. In his desire to share useful information with others, Anastasius wrote down short maxims from spiritual books on the paper bags and packages of the tobacco shop. The customers would read them out of curiosity, and might perhaps derive some benefit from them. The boy went about barefoot and in ragged clothing, but he trusted in God.
On November 7, 1875, Anastasius received monastic tonsure at the Nea Moni Monastery on Chios, and the new name Lazarus. Two years later, he was ordained a deacon. On that occasion, his name was changed to Nectarius.
Following his graduation he went to Alexandria, Egypt, where he was ordained a priest and served the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo with great distinction. In recognition of his piety and brilliance as a preacher, as well as his administrative ability, he was consecrated Bishop/Metropolitan of Pentapolis (an ancient diocese in Cyrenaica, in what is now Libya) by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Sophronios in 1889.
He served as a bishop in Cairo for one year, but was then unjustly removed from his post. This was a result of lies made up by jealous clerics who envied his popularity with the people. Patriarch Sophronios refused to listen to St. Nectarios, who was sent away from Egypt without trial or explanation and was never given an opportunity to defend himself.
After his dismissal, he returned to Greece in 1891 and spent several years as a preacher (1891-1894). He was then appointed director of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School for the education of priests in Athens, where his service was exemplary for fifteen years. He developed many courses of study and wrote numerous books, all while preaching widely throughout Athens.
In 1904 at the request of several nuns, he established a monastery for them on the island of Aegina. The monastery was named Holy Trinity Monastery.
In December of 1908, at the age of 62, St. Nectarios resigned from his post as school director and withdrew to the Holy Trinity Convent on Aegina, where he lived out the rest of his life as a monk. He wrote, published, preached, and heard confessions from those who came from near and far to seek out his spiritual guidance.
While at the monastery, he also tended the gardens, carried stones, and helped with the construction of the monastery buildings that were built with his own funds. He was also the Metropolitan of the island of Aegina.
St. Nectarios died on the evening of November 9, 1920, at the age of 74, following hospitalization for prostate cancer. His body was taken to the Holy Trinity Convent, where he was buried by a Priest-Monk named Savas, who later painted the first icon of St. Nectarios. The funeral of St. Nectarios was attended by multitudes of people from all parts of Greece and Egypt.
Many people regarded St. Nectarios as a saint during his lifetime because of his prayerful life, his humility, his purity and other virtues, and his writings, as well as the miracles he performed. The relics of St. Nectarios were removed from the grave on September 2, 1953, and gave out a beautiful fragrance. Official recognition of Nectarios as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople took place on April 20, 1961.