Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Miracles of Saint Thomais the Wonderworker of Lesvos (1 - 3)


Miracle 1:

My narrative has shown us that Thomais constantly visited the divine churches, and most frequently attended services at churches where all-night hymnody to God was being performed. She used to go regularly to the most divine church at Blachernae, and would walk the whole way at night sending forth hymns of supplication to God and entreating His all-pure Mother. Then she would prostrate herself before Her all-honored and all-holy shrine,* entreating Her with tears and begging grace for the whole world, that is, to intercede with Her Son to postpone and delay His punishment and to grant a respite from the wickedness that afflicts the world because of our sins. For she did not petition and entreat the Lord on her own behalf, but for the salvation and redemption of the community and the world. In the words of the apostle she strove not for her own but for another,** and indeed she carried out this saying by her very deeds.

For when in the course of the procession the most sacred images of the all-pure Mother of God arrived at that place which is usually called Zeugma by the locals,*** a man tormented by a demon suddenly sprang out and rolled in front of the feet of the blessed Thomais, calling out loudly, and revealing the power of the virtue which she had kept hidden for a long time: “How long will you hide yourself, O servant of God, and be unwilling to proclaim these works clearly? Let God’s name be magnified through you. Reveal to me as wondrous, Thomais, the mercy of God. Let my repentance be proclaimed through you and immediate forgiveness for my sins, because of which I am now punished by God’s will. And I beg you, while rolling at your holy feet, make yourself manifest. Show that the God of wonders works great wonders through you. Let the demon who overpowers me be crushed by your hand. Let the Adversary be crushed by the might of your power. 'The pangs of death compassed me; the dangers of hell found me.'**** How long might the demon move the hand of Briareos***** against me?” These things he called out to the Lord through Thomais.

The Saint was then inclined to mercy and spread out her arms to God, from Whom "every perfect gift"****** is sent down. And after she rubbed her hands with oil from the utterly pure Mother of the Word and anointed the aforementioned demoniac,******* one could immediately see the demoniac being completely cured and magnifying God, Who works great wonders, makes the dead live, and drives out demons. And as a result those who happened to be present, and saw the swift cure of that demon-possessed man, sent up loudly a hymn to God, because He has been made wholly wondrous in His saints and His name is both proclaimed and magnified through His blessed servants, who work the same miracles, banish demons, heal every sickness, and glorify the Lord.

Notes:

* The Soros (Robe of the Virgin Mary), was covered in silver and considered a “reliquary shrine of architectural dimensions.” Lay people were not allowed inside the Chapel of the Soros, but could pray in the main church. A specific icon type, the Panagia Hagiosoritissa, was associated with this shrine.

** Cf. 1 Cor. 10:24.

*** This passage apparently refers to the procession that took place each Friday from Blachernae to the Church of the Chalkoprateia, near Hagia Sophia. The Zeugma was an area roughly halfway between Blachernae and the Chalkoprateia, just north of the present-day Suleymaniye Mosque.

**** Ps. 114 (116):3.

***** A huge monster with one hundred hands, also known as Aigaion; cf. Homer, Iliad 1:403.

****** James 1:17.

******* The source of this oil is not specified; it was no doubt oil from a lamp hanging before an icon of the Virgin, perhaps at Blachernae.


Miracle 2:

I should add to my narrative another more wondrous miracle of the blessed Thomais. A certain man once lived in the monastery named after Ankourios.* He was a eunuch, and his name was Constantine. For many years the fetters of paralysis bound him, so to speak, and made him suffer like the man in the Gospels who was paralyzed for thirty-eight years.** Later the most dreadful disease of quinsy*** afflicted him and for a long time constricted his throat, so that he kept seeing the danger of death before his eyes. One night, while he was sleeping, someone appeared and spoke to him. He added and interjected advice about how he should find quick deliverance from his illnesses, saying thus: “If you wish to be freed speedily from your present danger, send quickly without any delay to the blessed Thomais,” (in this way he added her name), “and, taking the water with which she has washed her holy hands, anoint that part of your body which threatens you with mortal danger and you will thereby obtain a swift cure.” Such were the instructions of that wondrous and divine dream. The sick man was persuaded and, upon awaking from his sleep, carried out all the instructions from his dream. He sent to the holy woman, anointed the whole of his body with the washwater from her hands, and was cured immediately of his suffering. He then loudly proclaimed this miracle everywhere, praising the God of all, and magnifying the One Who magnifies His saints.

Notes:

* The location of this Ankourios (a word meaning “cucumber”) monastery is unclear. On the Asiatic side of the Bosporus was a monastery tou Aggouriou, whose origin is unknown, but which is mentioned in 11th- and 12th-century sources. Within Constantinople there was also a metochion tou Aggouriou built by Constantine IX Monomachos (1042–55) for the Chian monastery of Nea Moni. In his encomium of Thomais, Akropolites described the monastery tou Aggouriou as “one of the monasteries of the City.”

** Cf. Jn. 5:5.

*** Literally, “dog-quinsy,” an inflammation of the throat caused by infected tonsils.


Miracle 3:

And still I shall add to the previous miracles this even more unusual and more divine one, which prompts every ear and mind to a hymn in praise of God.

Thomais, who was accustomed to frequent the divine churches and rejoice in the all-night hymnody, went once to the holy church of the Hodegoi (which is now called the Hodegetria). And here she stood near one of the all-holy icons of the Mother of God and made her customary prayers. And while she was visiting, as was her wont, the aforementioned holy church, from which the all-holy icon of the completely immaculate Virgin is carried in procession every Tuesday very early in the morning, revered and venerated by all according to custom, a certain woman, who had been afflicted for a long time by a demon, leapt out and fell down at the feet of the holy woman, who was standing and devoting herself to prayer, and called out words like this to her: “Have mercy on me your servant, O servant of God, and let not this demon maltreat me to such an extent and lead me around here and there like a prisoner of war. My affliction has lasted long enough; will the day of salvation never come, but the night of despair crush me? And will the demon continue to harass me in the future, and is there no one to help?” The aforementioned woman did not cease to utter this sort of lament, wailing inconsolably and crying beyond all measure. The woman was indeed an object of great pity. And Thomais was quickly inclined to mercy by the wailing and lamentation of the woman, and so she anointed the woman with holy oil. And immediately the demon fled and disappeared, and all the crowd that happened to be present was seen to be full of amazement at the sudden cure of the aforementioned woman, for she reached out to the holy woman and entreated her that she be delivered from the tormenting demon, which indeed had happened.

Notes:

* The monastery ton Hodegon (lit., “of the guides”) was located near Hagia Sophia. Built (according to tradition) by the empress Pulcheria in the 5th century, it was later famous as the location of the Hodegetria icon.

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