The Memory of the Holy Martyrs newly-revealed on
MYTILENE: RAPHAEL, NICOLAS and IRENE
In 1959, during works undertaken in a little country chapel on a hill near the village of Thermie on the island of Mytilene, a workman discovered a tomb containing unknown remains. A man of little faith and without respect for holy things, he negligently and
mockingly left the precious remains at the foot of a tree. But he was quickly chastised, and did not receive the use of his hands again until he made the sign of tile Cross for the first time in twentyseven years. After this he saw the Saint in person near the Church and, converted from his unbelief, became a fervent preacher of the grace of this saint newly revealed by God. His wife had, some time earlier, been a witness of the appearing, in the church that was in building, of an imposing-looking hieromonk, but her husband had snubbed her. From this moment onwards, the Saint appeared many times, in sleep and in waking, to the wife of the landowner and other devout women of the village, along with some children and adult men, without their having discussed it beforehand.
To some, he appeared without speaking, as a hieromonk clad in his liturgical vestments and his monastic Habit. To others, he gave his name, saying: ‘My name is Raphael’, and telling them that it was time that he be venerated, along with his companions in martyrdom, that their icon be painted and their Memory celebrated on the Tuesday of the Renewal, because they were going to work many miracles. He appeared to others together with the Mother of God and Saint Parasceva, and giving a detailed account
of his martyrdom, that was in perfect agreement from one person to another.
Saint Raphael lived in the fifteenth century, at the time of the fall of Constantinople. Born on the island of Ithaca, he was named George at Holy Baptism and received a brilliant education, both Christian and secular. Becoming a monk under the name of
Raphael, he was ordained priest and honoured with the titles of Archimandrite and Protosynkellos. In view of his competence, he was sent on a mission by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to France, to the town of Morlaix. It was there that he forged bonds of friendship with the deacon Nicolas, who became his fellow-worker and spiritual son.
After the fall of Constantinople (1453), they escaped to Macedonia, and then, when the Turks invaded Thrace (1454), they set sail for the island of Mytilene (Lesbos), and settled in Thermie, in the Monastery of tile Mother of God, which had been built
at the place in which the relics were found.
On Great Tuesday 1463, the Turks beleaguered the monastery and, seizing Abbot
Raphael, submitted him to terrible tortures. During the night of the Tuesday of Renewal, on 9 April, after they had struck him with their bludgeons, he was dragged along the ground by his beard, from the top of a hill to the bottom, and they then hanged him on
tree, piercing his sides with lance-blows and sawing away his Jaw. Thus Saint Raphael was united for all eternity with the risen Christ. The skeleton found by the workman was lacking its jawbone, and it was only after the Saint’s appearing on one occasion
that they found it in the ground some distance away.
The saints’ appearances multiplied, and Nicolas finally revealed to several people the exact site of his tomb. After some hesitation, as they were afraid of being ridiculed by the unbelievers if they failed, the faithful dug and found, on 13 June 1960, the
body of Saint Nicolas. They had already learned from Saint Raphael that Nicolas was born in Rhages in Media, but that he had been brought up in Thessalonica. When he, in his turn, was seized by the Turks and put to torture, during which he died of a
At the same time, a young village girl saw an apparition of a twelve-year-old girl with an angelic face, the holy martyr Irene. The Mother of God told someone else that Irene was the daughter of Basil, thle mayor of the village, who had hidden in the monastery with some of the other inhabitants. The Turks, wanting to make her father tell them where the Christian warriors were hidden, took the girl, and, in front of her parents, cut off both her hands and threw her into an earthenware jar, in which they burned her to death. They then killed the girl’s parents and Theodore, the village schoolmaster. After further revelations, the relics of Saint Irene were discovered in the jar, in accordance with what had been said, and, near the tombs of Raphael and Nicolas, the remains of other martyrs. Saint Raphael revealed, in the course of other wondrous apparitions, in which he appeared with a great crowd of saints, that they were the remains of nuns who, a century earlier, had lived in the monastery and that, on 11 May 1235, Abbess Olympias and the nun Euphrosyne had been murdered there by Turkish pirates.
Saint Raphael also permitted the discovery of an icon of Christ and of a holy Spring, through which many miracles were worked. The saints were not content just to reveal their existence and the circumstances of their martyrdom, but they also revealed how
close they were to God through miracles whose number never ceased to grow. Saint Raphael continues to appear down to our own day, in dreams or waking, to many people, both the devout and the indifferent, in Greece and as far away as America and Australia.
He heals incurable illnesses, awakens consciences hardened by sin, soothes pains and afflictions and reveals that the Lord is still glorified in His saints, yesterday and today and for all eternity.
Through the prayers of Thy saints,
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us.
THE SYNAXARION, The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church
By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translated from the French by Mother Maria (Rule)
and MotherJoanna (Burton)
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady Ormylia (Chalkidike) 2003