The Chief Commander of Mantamados, the Archangel Michael, in Lesvos
In 1963, during the morning attack of the Turkish Cypriots in martyric Cyprus, when the sexton entered the sacred shrine of Mantamados to light the lamp of the Archangel and Chief Commander Michael, he was amazed to see the full-bodied icon of the Archangel missing.
This unexpected disappearance caused confusion among the pious people and it lasted for a week. Suddenly, the icon was found back in its place as it was before it disappeared.
Time passed. One winter morning the sexton of Mantamados heard a horse trampling. He went outside and saw a young man who had just dismounted from his horse carrying a ram on his shoulders.
Together they went into the church, and the young man went straight to the icon of the Chief Commander, set down the ram and lit a candle that was as tall as he was. Then he kneeled, venerated the icon and stroked with misty eyes and trembling lips the embossed face of the Archangel Michael.
"He is my savior," said the young man excitedly to the sexton. "He saved me from the Turks."
"Tell me, my child, what happened to you?" asked the sexton with interest, as they were leaving the church.
"In the recent events with the Turks," began the young man, "I was serving my military service in Cyprus. It was past midnight on August 12th when we were surprised by the fire of the Turkish Cypriots. We were always on the lookout, because we knew that the insidious enemy was across from us. The shots of the naval vessels complicated things a bit, but their aviation sector did not hurt us at all. Within a few hours we controlled the situation and proceeded to counterattack. It was as if we had wings on our feet. We chased them and hunted them. A little bit more and we would have thrown them into the sea.
While we were running unrestrained with enthusiasm and almost fully out in the open, I suddenly heard before me, at about a distance of five meters, an irregular sound emerge. I stopped abruptly, and then, at the dusk of dawn, I saw a Turkish casemate. I saw the barrel of the machine gun turned towards me and, having no place to hide, I fell face first to the ground, covering my head well with my helmet.
'My Chief Commander, save me!' I said from within, and immediately my father came to mind, who was miraculously saved from certain death on the Albanian front after vowing a ram to the Chief Commander. 'My Chief Commander, save me!' I again murmured, making also the same vow.
At the same time a deafening bang almost took my hearing. 'They hit me,' I thought, and my loved ones came to mind. Later I felt someone touch me, looking for me, lifting me. It was our people. 'Are you hurt? How are you?', I heard a faint voice say. I was searched, but there was no injury. I then remembered the casemate. I looked in that direction, but saw nothing.
'Right here,' I yelled, 'there was a Turkish casemate.' We went close, studied the area, but found nothing.
But in the place where the casemate had stood, now there was only rubble and a huge hole. It looked like that during my crucial moment, a bomb or some mortar from a ship made the dangerous casemate into debris, while at the same time a higher power protected me and left me completely without harm from the fire and explosion."
The sexton, who listened and was very moved, then said:
"Yes, my child, it was the Chief Commander. He saved you. At that time, with the episodes of Cyprus, the icon had been gone for a week."
The young man was rocked. He embraced with his gaze the icon of the Archangel and his eyes gushed out tears. It was another "thank you" for his salvation in a time of hopelessness.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.