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April 26, 2011

The 1826 Miracle of St. Menas in Herakleion, Crete

This miracle of Saint Menas took place in 1826 in Herakleion, Crete. Five years prior was the beginning of the Greek Revolution and the Turks had slaughtered a great number of Greeks in Crete, most noteworthy being the Metropolitan of Crete together with many of his bishops of various districts on June 24, 1821 in the Cathedral of Saint Menas, together with the officiating priest who was slaughtered on the very altar during the Divine Liturgy.

Five years later the Turks were devising another slaughter of the Christians on April 18, 1826, which was the Feast of Pascha when all Christians of the city would gather to celebrate the Feast of Feasts. To distract them they set fires on Pascha in various areas of the city and many gathered towards the church to celebrate the feast and sing "Christ is risen!"

As the gospel was being read proclaiming the Resurrection Feast, suddenly a gray haired man appeared and began running around the church holding a sword, and the faithful saw him chase away the Turks who were devising the slaughter.

The Turks thought the man was a fellow Muslim who was sent by the governor of the city to call off the slaughter. However the governor assured them he had sent no one and in fact had not left his home that night. It was then that the Turks realized that this was a miracle of Saint Menas to save the Greeks. It is for this reason that Muslims began honoring Saint Menas and bringing gifts to the church.

This event is celebrated annually at the Cathedral of Saint Menas by the people of Herakleion on Bright Tuesday, and during Great Vespers his relics are venerated by the faithful.

#1 is the new Cathedral of St. Menas completed in 1895. #2 is the old Cathedral of St. Menas where the miracle took place.