August 16, 2010

The Newly-Revealed Six Martyrs of Megara

Discovery of the Relics of Sts. Seraphim, Dorotheos, Iakovos (James), Demetrios, Vasilios (Basil), and Sarantis 
(Feast Day - August 16)

The uncovering of the relics of the Six Holy Martyrs of Megara occurred in a wondrous manner.

In the year 1798, a boy named Paisios (who at the time was 9 years old), saw a vision of three men, dressed like equipped Roman soldiers, who told him to remove their remains from the earth. The boy related this vision to his grandfather, who not only disbelieved him, but scolded the boy. A year later, after his death, the men appeared once again to the boy, who then told his father, John, of the vision. Together, on the night of August 16th (for fear of the Turks), they uncovered the holy relics, which emitted an incredible fragrance. From this time the saints, through their holy relics, began to work miracles.

However, the inhabitants of Megara did not know the names of these saints, so they began fasting, and performing vigils and prayers for God to reveal their names. These relics were those of Sts. Seraphim, Dorotheos, and Iakovos. After a year, two other martyrs appeared to the boy Paisios (who became the protector of their holy relics) and related that their names were Demetrios and Vasileios, and showed him where to dig to find their relics, a few meters from the others. With the help of other faithful from Megara, they uncovered the tomb, and venerated the relics of these two saints.

After another twenty years, to the same Paisios, another saint named Sarantis appeared and told him to uncover his relics. Paisios took the priest John Moustaka to a rural area north of the city, and found the region among bushes and a large stone. At first it was impossible to dig because of two enormous snakes, but having kneeled and prayed, the snakes disappeared and a luminous glow shined around the bushes. Having gathered the relics with piety and devotion, they brought them to Megara and placed them together with the remains of the five other Martyrs. In the area where they found the sacred relics of St. Sarantis, a small country church was built later, which although situated in the bed of the river, has survived until today.

At 40 years of age, without ever having gone to school, and with the help of the holy Martyrs, Paisios became learned enough to be ordained a priest, in the year 1828. After his death in 1848, many pious residents of Megara who had been helped by the Saints so much, began to build a church to house the holy relics (which previously had been housed in a ruined house by Paisios). The cornerstone was laid in 1889, and soon the church to the Holy Martyrs of Megara was built on the site of their tombs. All year the inhabitants who go to the church to seek the help of the Martyrs.

Many miracles have been attributed to these saints, of which the following is among the many recent miracles of the saints:

In 1977, on the eve of the celebration of the holy Martyrs (15 August), the founder of the Holy Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner (Makrinou), Archimandrite Fr. Damaskinos Katrakoulis, became very sick. It was so serious that, for the first time in his life, he thought he would be unable to attend the feast of the Saints and the procession of their remains. At night, the sisters of the monastery, for their consolation, said to each other: "Let's leave the outer door [to the monastery] open for the holy Martyrs to pass by". And in their desperation they entreated the Saints very much to treat Fr. Damaskinos. But the loyal people of Megara, when they learned the reason for his not attending the festival, began to say with great simplicity and conviction: "The holy Martyrs will go with their horses and will make him well". In the monastery at about eleven at night and while the nuns had withdrawn to their cells, they heard a noise that sounded like horses galloping. At the same time, an unearthly light shone in the cells of several sisters, while St. Iakovos woke up one nun who was asleep. The nuns were full of joy and ecstasy, and realized that the holy Martyrs had visited, began to gather in the cell of the Abbess. And paradoxically, each of them claimed that they heared galloping outside of her own cell. With tears, deep and heartfelt gratitude and devotion, they began doxologies to God and thanksgiving to Holy God and to the holy Martyrs, who heard their humble prayer. Indeed from the time that Fr. Damaskinos was cured with the visit of the Holy Martyrs, to the glory of the most merciful God, he glorified again the holy Martyrs. A few years before that miracle, the same nuns in fact heard the festal bells of the Great Vespers for the Holy Martyrs in the courtyard of their own monastery. It should be noted that the Monastery of St John Makrinou is about 22 kilometers from Megara.

According to analysis by Archimandrite Dorotheos Mourtzoukos, the Holy Martyrs of Megara could have likely been martyred under the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363AD), because (1) they have always appeared like equipped Roman soldiers, (2) the name "Sarantis" is in reference to the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9th) who weren't martyred until 320 AD, and the area which included Megara was given to St. Constantine the Great in 314 AD (so it would not have been an area of persecution of Christianity, unless under the reign of the Emperor Julian).

Fr. Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis wrote the service and hymns in their honor.

Read more here.

For information on the discovery of four more Newly-Revealed Martyrs in Megara, see here.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
The protectors of Megara, Champions ten in number, with Dorotheos, Sarantis, Seraphim, and Iakovos, Demetrios, Vasileios, Adrianos, Polyeuctos and George and Platon, faithful helpers of those in dangers, deliver those who cry to you, Glory to Him who glorified you, Glory to Him you magnified you, Glory to Him you grants to us through you, healings for all.