Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Finding of the Acheiropoieton Icon of Christ in Kamouliana (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

Finding of the Not Made With Hands Icon in Kamouliana (Feast Day - August 9)

The Finding of the Acheiropoieton and Revered Icon of Kamouliana, 
which was written by our Holy Father Gregory the Bishop of Nyssa.*

Verses

What great thing happened to you Akylina,
For you saw the great condescension of Christ?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, our righteous and only true God, inasmuch as He is invisible according to the essence of His Divinity, and invincible according to His authority, and ineffable according to His power; He, Who is according to His nature is a lover of mankind and good; the unchangeable image of the Father; Who does not repent for giving out His graces; pre-eternally and invisibly begotten of the Father, and in the latter days born seedlessly from a Virgin Mother; He once again allowed to show Himself in a holy icon by His own goodness and immeasurable compassion. While at one time through His birth and presence in the flesh He led the Magi by means of a star, now through the finding of His icon He attracted those who were infants in their minds towards perfect knowledge. O unspeakable philanthropy! O immeasurable solicitude! O ineffable gift! O incomprehensible mystery! This is an astonishing and awesome thing, brethren. That the Creator of all things can be seen by us who are made of clay with an all-revered character, and there where He arrived in the flesh, He appeared young by His birth. Now He has accepted today to be venerated with a physical icon. O great wonder! Again the Master has descended to the servants. Come therefore brethren and listen fathers, and I will narrate to all of you, who fear the Lord, what wondrous things took place in Kamouliana, the new Bethlehem, and through words will present before your eyes, I the humble Gregory, concerning the honorable and blessed woman Vassa, who was renamed Akylina, which was revealed to me the unworthy one by the Holy Spirit.

This blessed Akylina was a Greek, who had a husband named Kamoulos, who also was a Greek and unbeliever, and governor of that district, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, in the year 289. Kamoulos persecuted and fought against the Christians, according to the edict he had from Diocletian. His wife Akylina, having been illumined by divine grace, came to the knowledge of the true God. Therefore she sought to separate from her husband, and from his impiety, for he tried to turn away by himself all from the God and King of all she had come to know. This knowledge of God she tried to keep hidden in her heart out of fear of her unbelieving husband. And she always prayed to the Lord to make her worthy to receive Holy Baptism, giving herself over to vigils, fasting, prayers, practicing every form of cleansing the soul and the body, and keeping her virginity. For this the renowned one was made worthy to receive the following revelation by the Holy Spirit. At a time when the thrice-blessed one was praying to our Lord Jesus Christ with tears and a broken heart, then according to the will of the Lord Whom she feared, her entreaty was heard through her fervent faith that she had in Him, and He said to her: "Because I condescended from the heavens for the salvation of mankind, and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and Mary the Ever-Virgin, by this I have now come to you, having sympathy for your tears. Prepare therefore a clean table, and put a white linen cloth over it, and an untouched and bright vessel full of water. Prepare this in a decorated store-room and vaulter chamber, and cast yourself down on the ground outside the vaulter chamber, and My right hand will cover you, then I will manifest Myself to you, according to My will."

Saint Akylina therefore did all this, as the divine voice spoke to her. And O the frightful and strange mystery! The Master Christ descended, Who is always and everywhere near, and never overlooks those who hope in Him, and noetically cry out to Him, and love Him with all their disposition. Together with the Lord, all the powers of heaven descended, at the fifth watch of the night,** chanting and saying the triumphant hymn, namely the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Sabaoth. And the Master Who beforehand washed the feet of His disciples, and dried them with a towel that was around His waist, He - O the wonder! - then washed with His pure hands His holy face with that water that was in the vessel. Having washed, He dried Himself with that clean linen cloth His immaculate and divinely-featured face. And immediately there was imprinted on the linen cloth the print and image of His divine-human form, and His all-holy and unconcealed impression, which is shown to all until today. Just as beforehand the Lord, by His philanthropy and condescension, showed His own incarnation, so now He showed it to the honorable and most-revered Akylina, who seeing Him descend to her, greatly thanked the Lord, and was unable to be satisfied in giving thanks. She hid the holy form of the Lord in a corner of her house (for she feared her husband) and exceedingly honored it. Knowing beforehand her repose, she made careful arrangements for this holy and not made with hands and uncolored icon of the Savior. Thus she wrote down her entire proposal, and put the writing together with the holy icon, and secured over the place.

Because Akylina died, it was revealed to me the unworthy Gregory, that in the house of Akylina in Kamouliana, in the following place can be found hidden an icon of the Lord not made with hands. Going to the place shown to me, and digging out the wall, I found a box, in which was the holy form of the radiance of the Father. I also found - O the wonder! - the oil lamp lit which was hung there over a hundred years earlier by Saint Akylina. I also found a small censer, which was still burning, and giving off the fragrance of incense. This great miracle I saw with my own eyes, I the unworthy Bishop, and I showed it to everyone. Taking from there the holy form of the Lord not made with hands, I brought it to the Metropolis of Caesarea. Through it many healings take place, just as when the Lord was incarnated. Then He healed the blind, the lame, the paralytics and the possessed, to show the fullness of His grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Whatever the incarnate Word of the Beginingless Father did then He does now and even more, and He remains and reigns unto the ages of ages. These things took place in Kamouliana.*** And the manifestation of the immaculate icon of the Lord not made with hands took place during the reign of the impious Diocletian, as we said above. This finding took place during the reign of the pious Emperor Theodosius the Great in the year 392, to the glory of the only-begotten Son of God the Father.

Notes:

* The authorship of this text by Gregory of Nyssa is disputed, and is widely considered instead to be at least a sixth or seventh century text if not later. Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says that he looked for this text in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa, but could not find it anywhere. He also mentions that the writing and grammar of the text does not match up with other writings of Gregory of Nyssa.

** The fifth watch of the night is between 3-5 a.m.

*** Kamouliana (Camuliana, Camulia or Kamoulia) was an ancient town or perhaps village in Cappadocia, located northwest of Caesarea, today Kayseri in Turkey.

See also: The Acheiropoieton Icon of Christ in Kamouliana

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