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November 11, 2011

The Miracle of the Bleeding Gospel (April 27, 1989)

An open letter written by Fr. Anthony Moschonas to His Grace Bishop Anthony (+2004) of San Francisco:

Your Grace, with respect and reverence, I kiss your right hand. Christ is Risen! With great humility and fear of God I am writing to you to confirm our telephone conversation on Good Friday, concerning the miracle that occurred in our church.

On the evening of April 27th, Holy Thursday, at 7:30 p.m., we started the service of the Holy Passion (the Service of the "Twelve Gospels"). Before I started the reading of the twelve Gospels, I placed a stand at the Holy Door and laid the Holy Gospel upon it. The Gospel is in two languages, Greek and English, and the cover is gold-plated, with a small enamel on it. According to the holy tradition of our Church, one side has the Crucifix of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the other side has the Resurrection.

During the reading of the prescribed passages of the Holy Gospel, I left it at the Royal Door, on the stand. Father Anthony Sipsas, a retired priest, and I alternated reading the holy passages, one in English and one in Greek. When I finished the reading of the fifth Gospel, I picked it up to place it on the Holy Altar, while preparing ourselves for the procession of the crucified Christ on the Cross. When I picked up the Holy Gospel, it appeared heavier than usual. I did not pay much attention to it, thinking to myself that I was tired from the work of the day. With Fr. Sipsas, the altar boys, and the reader, we started the procession of the crucified Christ chanting the hymn, "Today is hung upon the Tree, He who suspended the land in the midst of the waters".

After I placed the cross in the center of the Church, in the solea, we returned to the Holy Altar to continue the Service. As I stood in front of the Holy Altar, my eyes focused upon the Holy Gospel's Icon of the Crucifixion. With great astonishment, I clearly observed blood on the Holy Body of our Lord. Fear came all over me. After looking at it for a long time, I called Fr. Sipsas and asked him to tell me what he saw. "Blood, my son, blood ... I don't know," he replied. The blood was on the Holy Icon of Christ, on the right side of His body, at the place where he was pierced. Some blood also appeared on the left side of His chest.

For the reading of the sixth Gospel, I used a different Bible. After I finished reading the Gospel, I announced the miracle to the faithful that were present. When the services finished, I called a few men to come into the Holy Altar to witness the phenomenon. Some of the ladies asked me if they could say a prayer to the Almighty God that His sign, a miracle, be for the best intended use of the world and to thank Him for the great and marvelous things that happened among us, the unworthy servants and sinners. It was during such a prayer, I remembered, that our Lord appeared to the Myrrhbearers. As I finished, with great fear and tremor, because of my unworthiness, I proceeded towards the Holy Altar. I picked up the Holy Gospel and placed it in the solea for all people who were present to exalt and venerate.

The next day, Good Friday, before the procession of the Epitafio, I announced the miracle to the congregation once again. After the procession, all of the faithful drew near and venerated it.

The Holy Gospel remains on the Holy Altar and in the near future we will place it in a case. We will put it in the church for the glorification of our Almighty God and for the strengthening of the faith among His flock.

Asking humbly and with reverence that you pray for me, the sinner, and for the faithful of my community, I wish that the resurrected Lord grant you health, happiness and long life.

Your spiritual child in Christ, Fr. Anthony Moschonas May 2, 1989

Source: Orthodox Heritage Vol. 09, Issue 09-10