Monday, August 31, 2015

Commemoration of the Restoration of the Church of the Theotokos in Neorion

The Restoration of the Church of the Theotokos in Neorion (Feast Day - August 31);
(Neorion Harbor is the second inlet from the bottom along the left side of the Golden Horn.)


On this day we commemorate the restoration of 
the Church of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos in Neorion.


Your house in Neorion comes into existence Pure One,
Another Siloam pouring forth healings.

During the reign of Michael and Theodora in 842, there was a patrician named Anthony, who had an august house in Constantinople, in the yard and expanse of Neorion. At this place was a glorious Church of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was robbed of its holy icons, by the prior iconoclast emperor. This patrician renewed once again this church, and built beneath it a small bath for his physical assuagement; above the bath there was always done doxologies to God. Wherefore this church was overshadowed with the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, through the mediation of the All-pure Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and treatments began to take place for various illnesses. And some Christ-loving Christians gathered together and asked the patrician if they could bathe in that bath once a week, for the love of the brethren in Christ and for the sick. The sick Christians assembled together therefore, and bathed with faith, and they were healed. The time came for the patrician to die, and he left the Church of the Theotokos and the bath to those God-loving Christians for the salvation of their souls. Those Christians, because they were frugal and poor, and the bath did not have enough water, nor was there any funding, for this reason it slowly slowly ceased to operate together with the doxologies to God in the church, and the hot bath cooled, and so both remained uncared for. And the bath practically disappeared, because people would grab the vessel they needed from it. The Church of the Theotokos, because it was tall and high up, and it procured healings to the sick, for this reason one Priest remained who chanted and doxologized there, and he was richly sustained by divine grace, which dwelt in that church.

When the blessed emperor Romanos was constructing his royal palace and needed materials, namely stones and wood, to construct his palace, he learned of this house of the Theotokos, that it had many materials, and therefore he contemplated demolishing it and taking its materials. But the Lady Theotokos, whose grace dwelt in that church, did not neglect it, nor did she allow the emperor to do what he contemplated. Rather she appeared at night to the overseer of the royal palace, called Raiktor, and a young relative of Raiktor, and she announced to them in a fearsome manner, to not dare demolish the small church in Neorion. The young man woke and went to the mother of Raiktor, and revealed to her his vision. Wherefore when the emperor learned of this, he said the following: "I don't want a dispute with the Theotokos, but rather restore the small house of the Theotokos, if it needs to be restored in any part." Therefore, instead of demolishing the bath they cleaned it and sent people to restore it. Thus when the Church of the Theotokos was restored, and the bath was enlarged, so that it became more spacious for those bathing, they lit up the bath, and there washed therein the emperor Romanos, with Constantine and Christophoros, and they were gladdened, and they instituted with a royal chrysobull for a stipend to be given to it every year, along with a royal procession to this bath, and they granted it to the Monastery of Raiktor, that the Monks of this Monastery may care for the bath and the Church of the Theotokos. And out of the many miracles that took place in this Church of the Theotokos, we would like to mention one or two miracles, that took place in our generation.

One glorious woman fell into an oppressive illness, and her body swelled, suffering from the unbearable pain, and she relinquished all her belongings to physicians. Because this brought her no benefit to her suffering, and having heard of the miracles that took place in the house of the Most Holy Theotokos in Neorion, she ran towards there. Having remained there for many days, and receiving no benefit, she grieved for her suffering and departed. Wherefore she went to the Blachernae Church of the Theotokos, and falling to the earth, she supplicated the Theotokos, saying: "Have mercy on me Mother of Christ God, for I lost hope in all human help, wherefore I fled to you." The woman remained there for nine days. The Lady and compassionate Theotokos appeared in the dreams of the suffering woman, and said to her: "O woman, why do you yell and bother me, and never calm down?" The suffering woman responded: "O Lady, I know that I am suffering and being tempted for my sins. You know, however, that for us sinners your Son and our God came down from the Heavens, and was born from your holy womb, and became man, which is why I fled to you, that I the unfortunate one may find mercy."

The Theotokos said to her: "Go to my humble house in Neorion, and there you will find treatment for your suffering." The woman therefore woke up, thanked God, and speedily went to Neorion. Falling down, therefore, she supplicated the Mother of God, saying: "Have mercy on me, Lady, and complete for me your natural compassion." At the time she said this, she fell asleep, and saw once again the Theotokos, accompanied by a beautiful man, and she was saying to him: "Behold that suffering woman, and tear her navel." And with this word he struck the abdomen of the woman with the staff he held, and he disappeared with the Theotokos. The woman woke up and sensed an unbearable foul smell coming from her body. Wherefore she immediately took off the clothes she was wearing and entered the bath. After washing herself, she came out of the bath with the women that were with her, and she was healed and treated. She therefore venerated that holy church, and censed it with a fragrance, thanking and glorifying the Mother of God, and Christ our God Who was born of her.

And another miracle took place in this church. A monk named Anthony, from the Monastery known as Galakrinon, fell into a terrible illness. A discharge came from his right hand, which brought him such swelling that it weighed down on his hand and foot. Wherefore the physicians cut off his hand, and it became a little lighter when with violence his hand was removed. The discharge then went down to his feet, which caused the nerves there to dry up, and made everything motionless. Wherefore Anthony with his staff walked one-legged in the Monastery for a period of five years, without feeling pain, yet without being totally healed. When the Armenian race came to battle against Constantinople, when Emperor Nikephoros received dominion from God and victory in battles, then the monks of the Monastery of Galakrinon became fearful, and fled to Constantinople, with the suffering Anthony, and there abided in the dependency of their Monastery, where the bathing of the Most Holy Theotokos took place. As the joyous feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos was approaching, the monks departed and went to their Monastery to celebrate. Only Anthony remained in the dependency, watching over the horses that were there.

Riding a horse, he went to give water to the animals, and after giving them water, he returned to the dependency. Going to the stable of the animal, he came off the horse, and grabbing a feeding-trough, he leaned himself on it, and waited for the man there with him to give him his staff. Because the man was slow to arrive and give it, Anthony became angry, and the blessed one was eager to go to the Church of the Theotokos, where the Divine Liturgy was taking place. And as time went by, and the man did not show up to give him his staff in order to lean on and go to church, he became saddened, and it appears he fell asleep, for in his sleep a divine power took him from the stable. Wherefore with one leg he went out the door into the courtyard of the dependency. From there again a divine power brought him to the area in the rear, and he was found inside the Church of the Theotokos, where the Divine Liturgy was taking place. As the Priest lifted up the Lord's Body, and those there said the "One is Holy, One is Lord", immediately the sound woke Anthony, and he cried out with a loud voice: "Glory to You O God, for having mercy on me in this hour, through the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos." And falling down before her icon, he venerated her with joy and kisses, wetting the floor of the church with joyous tears.

All the Christians who were there, seeing this strange event, also glorified God, and they magnified His Mother. And when those in the Monastery of Galakrinon heard this, they thought it was a lie, so they went to Constantinople, and saw Anthony healthy, and they also glorified God. Anthony however even after his healing was not able to perfectly walk on his treated leg, like the other one, but let no one wonder about this. The Theotokos did this, not because she didn't have the power to make him well, - dispel the blasphemy! (for she who is able to do little is also able to do much) - but out of economy for the benefit of Anthony, as it is secretly known by the Lord. We read also how John, the Bishop of Jerusalem, entreating the blessed Epiphanios the Archbishop of Cyprus, asked him to grant him the sight from both his eyes, from which he was blind, and he heard Epiphanios say to him: "He who blinded both (namely God), will open one." In other words, it was enough for him. So he left him with one eye by economy and for his benefit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Notes: Neorion (known today as Bagtché Kapoussi) was a harbor in Constantinople, on the southern shore of the Golden Horn, and it hosted a shipyard.

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