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July 22, 2010

17 Miracles of the Virgin-Martyr Markella of Chios

The miracles that are performed at the shrine of Saint Markella are so numerous that it is impossible to describe them all. Pilgrims flock to Volissos in Chios from other parts of Chios and Psara and receive healing from their ailments. During the celebration of the feast of the undefiled bride of Christ, which is on the 22nd of July, a great multitude gathers. Whereupon, the natives have renovated her church as of late and enlarged it. We wish to relate to our readers some of the many miracles that have occurred through the saint’s intercession.

1. In the year 1782, a certain priest from Volissos had a sick child and wished to take him to be washed at the shrine of St. Markella, but he did not believe that the child could be cured, because the disease was grievous. He was in a state of despair and indecision, succumbing to the thought that even the grace of the martyr could not cure his child.

What did the saint do? Wishing to show the boldness she possessed before God and the grace to do miracles, suddenly, that night, as the priest slumbered, it seemed to him that he was on the spot where she was martyred, that is where the water springs forth. The holy one appeared to him, chastising his lack of faith, saying, “Thy child most certainly will be cured and do not doubt that I have received grace from God to work miracles!”

When the priest heard this, he was so frightened that he awoke terrified and was unable to speak for a long time. After he repented for his skepticism, he vowed in the presence of all that he would honor the saint henceforth. At that moment, as he spoke, the child was also cured. By what he had seen and experienced, he was assured of the saint’s grace. Thus, he glorified God and His great martyr and bride, Markella.

2. During the same year, another priest, Fr. Michael, of the same village, had a child named Nicholas who was ill for a long time. The time passed and the child never regained his health, so he called upon the saint’s aid. Two days later, lo the miracle! Saint Markella appeared to him in a dream, as she was depicted in an icon.

The priest beheld the saint going to the house where the sick child lay. At dawn, the priest awoke and went to visit the child and, lo the miracle! Nicholas had recovered completely. Whereupon, Fr. Michael glorified God (Who is wondrous in His saints!) and his martyr, Markella.

3. It was wintertime in 1785, when a group of people from another area attempted to come to the village of Volissos. Due to inclement weather, they underwent great hardship. It snowed and rained intermittently when one of the women in their group fainted. Not being able to proceed any further, for the terrain was rugged and the location remote, she lay on the ground as dead. The others could not revive her, so they carried her to the cell of a nearby church, named in the honor of St. George, located in the mountains at a place called Flori. Leaving her there in an unconscious state, they continued their journey until they reached Volissos.

Upon their arrival, they related the matter to her husband. Learning this, he began to pray to St. Markella, so that among her other miracles, she might perform this one too, and rescue his wife from death. Thus, when he supplicated the saint for this, the sympathetic miracle worker hearkened to his prayer.

The blessed maiden appeared to the woman and succored her. It seemed to the woman that St. Markella took her by the hand and led her to the corner of the room where there was a crib. It then appeared to the woman that she received water from the saint and drank. This took place as the storm raged; thus, the villagers could not rescue her for another nine days. They presumed that she expired. When they went there to bury her, they found her safe and sound. She had regained her strength from the water given to her by the saint. Thereafter, she told everyone that she had seen and heard St. Markella, to the glory of God and in gratitude to the martyr.

4. Another man had a child that went blind. He took him to the site of her martyrdom and washed the child with the sacred water. After invoking the grace that the saint possessed, he attained his desire. The child regained his eyesight and, thereafter, could see as before.

5. Another individual, whose legs were paralyzed, went to the church with faith and requested that his name be commemorated at the Divine Liturgy, so he might regain his health. Lo, the miracle! As he lay prostrate on the floor at the time of the great entrance, when the holy gifts are offered, he stood upright and glorified God and his virgin-martyr, Markella.

6. A woman from the island of Psara, which is adjacent to Chios, had a lesion in her mouth which prevented her from eating, drinking, and even speaking. Seeking to cure the terrible sore, she visited several physicians. Instead of a remedy, no improvement was made. The malady worsened and created great problems for the poor woman. Grieved over this, she wept as the pain tormented her daily.

In 1780, a group of other women decided to go and venerate St. Markella. They said to the ailing one, “Why dost thou not accompany us, so that she might show thee mercy?” She consented and went with great piety and faith to the church of the saint. She attended the Liturgy and, afterward, went with the other priest to the site of the miraculous spring, where he performed the Service of Blessing of Waters.

At the conclusion, they washed themselves with it and drank thereof. Suddenly, behold a miracle! The grace of the virgin-martyr Markella cured the ailing woman, enabling her to speak without impediment and to eat and drink without discomfort. She remained in good health thereafter and glorified God, while, at the same time, she proclaimed the miraculous grace of the virgin-martyr.

7. The son of a Volissian suffered with swollen legs for three years. During that entire period, he never ceased taking medicines and handing large sums of money to physicians. Nevertheless, not only had he not recovered, but his condition deteriorated. By 1785, as he awaited death, he placed all his hopes in St. Markella. Though it was impossible for him to go alone to her church and shrine, others bore him aloft. After the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy, they carried him to the shrine. After he washed with holy water, lo! he attained his health.

8. Another woman, paralyzed in the lower part of her legs, went through a great deal of travail attempting to find a cure, but to no avail. She lost all hope in human assistance and turned to St. Markella. She asked certain people to bring her some of the sacred water from the saint’s shrine. That night, the saint appeared to her in her sleep, saying, “Do not grieve; I will send thee a cure.”

The next day, they brought the sacred water to the paralyzed woman. She washed her feet with it and, then, lo the miracle! She was healed by the saint, through whose intercessions may the Lord have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the only philanthropic One!

9. In c. 1850, Maria George Anagnostou-Sotrapa, an adult from Lithi in Chios, during the night hours, took up a pitcher to fetch water from the village fountain. Suddenly, she slipped nearby and had to be carried home. Then, for seven years, she remained bedridden in her house due to paralysis.

The pious mother of Maria, in a vision during sleep, saw herself at the small Church of St. Markella. However, the place and the church were unknown to her. The mother then beheld a young woman, who said, “Thy daughter, if she comes to my house, shall be well.” The mother then asked, “And where is thy house?” The young woman answered, “There, close to Volissos.” When the God-fearing father of Maria heard the vision, he understood immediately the identity of the young woman.

Whereupon, both parents took up their daughter as she lay abed. Then they took a boat and went along the shore till they reached the chapel of the saint. They left Maria underneath the icon of the saint, as the paralytic was once left at the feet of Jesus.9 After forty days and nights of prayer and fasting the feast day of St. Markella arrived.

During the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy, a motionless Maria suddenly stood straight and went to kiss the holy icon. Observing her walk, all the congregation was emotionally moved and joyful.

The parents, until their repose, annually prayed at the saint’s church and offered bread for consecration. They were always accompanied by their daughter Maria, who lived another forty years, only dying from old age. This particular miracle was confirmed by the Protosyngellos, Kyrillos Trechake (1915), who spoke with Maria’s parents, his relatives by marriage.

10. A soldier from Vrontados in Chios served at Skra during 1917. Amid the smoke and blood of the battle, he beheld a young woman hastening towards the battleground. The soldier besought her to flee the battle and save herself. She answered, saying, “I am Markella. My house is by the seashore, near Platanos. I came to save my children.”

Though high-explosives shells spread fire and smoke, the sweet smile of the virgin-martyr, St. Markella, never left, as she kept her promise to save her children, the Chiotes. Before the soldier, however, could get a good look at her, the saint disappeared. Saint Markella has gone with her children, that is fellow-islanders who sought her protection in war.

The soldier then wrote his wife at Vrontados, to have a divine liturgy performed at the Church of St. Markella. The wife became indignant at the request, since it required a tiresome trip. However, she complied. When she arrived with her three-year old daughter, the child became lost. The mother sought the child in every quarter of the village and beyond.

The following day, the child was found at Nevtaki, by the church sacristan of St. Markella. The child said that some aunt gave her toys. When the mother returned to the saint’s church, the child noticed her icon, and shouted aloud, “This is my aunt who gave me toys!”

11. It was March, 1942, in Greece, during the German occupation. An oil tanker, with thirty-six officers on board, departed Lavrio for Asia Minor. When they were between the islands of Chios and Mytilene, they encountered exceedingly high and rough seas. The hull of the ship could not be steered. One of the officers was swept away into the sea.

Amid this tragedy, all raised their hands unto the almighty God and prayed for their salvation. One of the passengers, Lieutenant Kreon Talios, in a vision, beheld a dark cloud suddenly shine brightly over the raging sea. Inside the cloud, he saw a magnificent building which, from one moment to the next, changed into an imposing and stately church. He then beheld a young and comely woman exit. With her right hand, she motioned for the elements to calm down. Then the miracle took place! The storm abruptly ceased. Before day break, the vessel was near the holy waters (aghiasma) of St. Markella where it was serene and safe.

12. From Lithi, Chios, a child named Stamati who, today, is a pharmacist, suffered from a certain bone disease, which caused the sinews to weaken, thereby leaving one leg shorter than another. The doctors fitted the leg with a special mechanical device, but the child could only walk with crutches.

Every year, the child’s mother, Mrs. Angelike Nicholas Demides, went to the Church of St. Markella, seeking a cure for her son. Then, in 1957, a miracle took place which also appeared in the Chios newspaper, Progress:

On the eve of the saint’s feast I (Mrs. Demides), with tear-filled eyes offered up thanks and supplications to the saint that she might work a miracle. The child also prayed with me. Then, I heard, “Mama, I wish to get up.” I helped him and he went to kiss the icon.

Afterwards, he went outside on his own, by the power of our God and the saint. He walked freely - just look at him now. Here is the leg brace which I hung before the candelabrum of her holy icon, so those of little faith may see.

13. The same newspaper, Progress, also reports that, in 1957, a twelve-year old boy from Siderouta in Chios was paralyzed for a year from acute rheumatism. The boy’s mother prayed during the hour of Supplicatory Canon to the saint, as her son was lying before the wonder- working icon of the virgin-martyr. Beseeching the saint, the mother prayed, “Make well, my little child, my saint! help the unfortunate one! Vouchsafe him to go with his feet to our village, Siderouta! Pity us also, for we are poor people, and bring laughter to our lips!”

As she knelt in prayer, her child turned and said to some other children standing about him, “If I take to the road, can you catch me?” Straightway, after uttering the challenge, he ran outside. Meanwhile, the other children began chasing him around the church.

This miracle was witnessed by hundreds of pilgrims inside the church. All then quickly glorified and thanked the saint for this miracle.

14. In 1965, Markella Basil Foteinos of Armolia in Chios, having suffering with epilepsy and cerebral disorders, was completely healed and restored to her senses.

15. In January of 1968, the Psaran gendarme, Nicholas Kontopodes, cast a package into the sea from Psara. It contained candles, two bottles of oil seventy drachmas, a list of names for commemoration, and some other articles. Outside the package, the sender addressed it to “Saint Markella.” Indeed, the waves of the sea brought the package to its destination, along the seashore nearby the saint’s church.

16. On July 21, 1971, the eve of the saint’s commemoration, 38-year old Photini Georgakopoulos of Athens visited the saint’s church in Chios. She had suffered with poliomyelitis since she was five years old.

After Great Vespers, when the clergy left the church, Foteine approached the saint’s icon, without her crutches and walked freely.

17. Another miracle which occurred recently in our times took place in Astoria, New York. Demetrios Kokotas had suffered a stroke and was paralyzed. He was awaiting a vacancy at a certain hospital in New York City for physiotherapy. He was totally disabled and could neither eat nor take care of his other personal needs without assistance. Days passed and there was still no bed available in the hospital. His sufferings increased.

One day, in great pain, he told the priest, “My dear priest, say a prayer, that the hospital might open its doors for me also, or, at least, that I might die for I cannot bear this life any longer.” The priest advised him to pray to St. Markella—which he did. Afterward, he asked him, “What did you say to St. Markella?” He replied, “What should I tell her? Does she not already know what I want?” That same day, Mr. Demetrios left the church and returned to his home in Astoria, New York. Before he departed, he kissed her icon and prayed to her again. He turned to the priest and said, “I am leaving, and if the hospital should open its doors for me too, here is my telephone number, so call me.”

Two days later, the hospital notified him that there was space. When he heard this, he was so glad and excited that he suffered a second stroke and lost consciousness and was taken to Astoria General Hospital in a coma. The doctors notified his relatives that he was in a comatose state, and that they should come to the hospital to await the outcome. At the point, occurred the miracle. In a vision, the bedridden man beheld the Archangel Michael on a chariot who had come to take him. At that same moment appeared a young maiden, whom he recognized as St. Markella. She prevented the Archangel. from taking him. With her hand, she beckoned to the bedridden man that he would remain.

In a few days, the sick man recovered and was transferred to a clinic for physiotherapy. There was a complete reversal of his condition. He departed for Athens where he relocated to the suburb of Kifisia. Most assuredly, the saint, whom he had begged from the bottom of his heart, saved him from certain death.

This and many other miracles are performed to this day by the glorious triumphant virgin-martyr Markella, the boast of Chios.

Read also: The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Markella of Chios

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Submitting to the laws of the Lord's divine teachings, you strove to keep them blamelessly, O Martyr Markella. And fearing the violence of your father, you fled from him and dwelt in the mountains. Pursuing you he found you and slew you, O undefiled bride of Christ. Glory to Him who strengthened you. Glory to Him who crowned you. Glory to Him who works healings for all through you.

* The following Greek sources were compiled and incorporated into this English collection; in addition the The Great Synaxaristes, Της Χίου το Κλέος [The Boast of Chios] (Athens, CR: Rt. Rev. Bp. Petros of St. Markella, Astoria, NY 1968); Joseph D. Agapetos, Μαρκέλλα, Ο Ματώμενος Κρίνος [Markella, The Blood-Stained LiIyl (St. Stephanos, Attike, CR: Holy Convent of St. Theodosios the Coenobiarch, 1990); Metropolitan Dionysios, Μαρκέλλης της Χιοπολίτιδος [Markella of Chiosl (Volissos, Chios, CR: Shrine of St. Markella, 1990); and Bios Aghias Markella [The Life of Saint Markella (Athens, CR: Rev. Charalampos Vasilopoulos, Monastery of Petraki).