December 13, 2009

Two Miracles of the Holy Five Martyrs of Sebaste

Saints Eustratios, Auxentios, Eugenios, Mardarios, Orestes, the Holy Five Martyrs of Sebaste 
(Feast Day - December 13)

Miracle 1

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite informs us of a miracle done through the grace of the Holy Five Martyrs in a metochion of Nea Moni Monastery in Chios dedicated to their name. It was passed on through the pious protopresbyter of Nafplio, Nicholas Malaxos.

This metochion is governed and supplied by Nea Moni Monastery for the day before and on the feast of its patrons, the Five Holy Martyrs Auxentios, Eugenios, Mardarios, Orestes, & Eustratios. It so happened that one year a heavy snow fell on the feast of the Saints. So much snow fell that it was impossible for the fathers of the Monastery to come down and supply all the necessities for the feast. The citizens of Chios also were unable to come because of the snow and bitter cold. A few had showed up for Great Vespers, but for the Orthros service only the priest showed up in church. He lit all the oil lamps, he called everyone to worship with the semantron, and gave the blessing for the service to begin.

As the priest was about to begin, suddenly he saw five men, well-dressed and serious. They entered the church with great reverence. By their mannerisms and presence the priest noticed they were not natives of Chios, and by their face he noticed they bore an uncanny resemblance to the five glorious martyrs as they were drawn in icons. He noticed that two of them went to the place of the right chanter stand, two went to the left chanter stand, and the fifth who resembled Orestes went to the analogion. When the time came, the one who looked like Orestes read with a beautiful voice, and the other four chanted with a sweet and graceful voice the sacred hymns. The priest saw this and listened and rejoiced, thanking and glorifying God for sending such helpers at a time when there were none to help. He was in awe and wonder not only at how much these five men looked so similar to their icon, but also how majestic and exact they read, and chanted so sweet. Still not exactly knowing who these five men were, he was wondering what he should do. He had wanted to ask them who they were before Orthros, but seeing their reverence and focus on the service prompted him to ask questions at the end.

When the time came in the Orthros service for the life and martyrdom of the Saints to be read, the one who looked like Saint Orestes stood in the middle of the church and read it. With great reverence he read of the trials of the Five Martyrs, and the others listened with gratitude. When he was reading, he arrived at the place where Agricolaus ordered Orestes to lie down on a bed of nails, and as he was going forth he "feared" (εδειλίασεν), but the Reader did not read εδειλίασεν ("feared") as it was written; instead he read εμειδίασεν (to giggle or laugh silently).

As the others were listening, he who looked like Saint Eustratios lifted his gaze and looked at the one who looked like Saint Orestes, and said to him: "Why did you change the word and not read it as it is written? Read it a second time, as it is." The reader read it again a second time, but again changed the word εδειλίασεν, out of his embarrasment. Then Saint Eustratios (for it was indeed him), said to him in a loud voice: "Read it as it is written, as it happened to you, since you didn't giggle (εδειλίασεν) looking at the bed of nails, but you feared (εδειλίασεν)!"

After this exchange of words, the five men disappeared. The priest, seeing this strange happening, stood there for a long time speechless. When he recovered, he finished the Liturgy as he was able. After the Divine Liturgy he turned to whoever showed up in the church by that time and told them about the vision he had. All glorified God, Who glorifies His Saints.

Miracle 2

The following was told by an elder on Mount Athos at the Skete of Saint Anna. This miracle took place while the iconography for the katholikon of the Skete was being done. The icongraphers Athanasios and Konstantinos were asking for an exorbitant amount of money from the fathers of the Skete to decorate the church. Of course the fathers were all poor and the iconographers left for the Great Lavra Monastery to the great sorrow of the fathers of the Skete of Saint Anne.

On the way to Great Lavra, the two iconographers saw five "strangers" on the road that took their breath away when they saw them.

"Your blessings" said the iconographers.

"The Lord" said the five men in unison. They then asked: "Who are you and where are you going?"

"We are iconographers and we are leaving workless from St. Anne's, because we couldn't find the right price with the fathers there to decorate their katholikon."

"These things are unheard of...Is it possible to ask for a large amount of money from the poor fathers, as are all monks? Is it possible? Here, my four brothers say the same thing. Do you agree Auxentios, Eugenios, Mardarios, and Orestes?"

"We also agree Eustratios!"

The two iconographers lost it, because they realized these five men had something to do with the saints. They also said to the two iconographers:

"Return and draw the iconography for the katholikon, and whatever the fathers give you, take it saying "may it be blessed"; nothing else. Furthermore, on the left wall draw the five martyrs Auxentios, Eugenios, Mardarios, Orestes, and Eustratios."

Immediately they disappeared before the astonished eyes of the two iconographers, who then were so moved they began to do their cross over and over again. They returned and decorated the katholikon beautifully, having told the fathers everything that happened to them along the road.