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April 16, 2015

Holy New Martyr Michael the Vourliotes (+ 1772)

St. Michael the Vourliotes (Feast Day - April 16)

Michael the Vourliotes worked as a coppersmith in the city of Smyrna (Izmir), though he hailed from the town of Vourla (Urla) in Asia Minor. His Life records that at the age of eighteen he was tricked by a coffee house owner into becoming a Muslim on the First Sunday of Lent in the year 1772. As a Muslim Michael became an employee in a coffee house.

One Easter Sunday he heard some young Orthodox Christian men celebrating Easter and singing the Easter Resurrection hymn "Christ Is Risen." This moved him greatly so that his conversion to the Muslim faith began to prick his conscience. The result was that Michael joined the young men and began singing the Resurrection hymn with them.

The next day, Michael appeared before the kadi and said to him, "If someone is fooled into giving gold in exchange for lead, is it lawful for him to return the lead and get back the gold he gave in as much as the exchange was not just and in the open but due to ignorance and trickery?"

When the kadi replied, "Yes," Michael continued, "So take back the lead which you gave me, that is your religion, and I will take back my gold which I gave you, that is the faith of my parents."

The kadi, it is said, marveled at Michael's sincerity and tried with promises of rewards and with much flattery to convince him to remain a Muslim. But Michael was adamant in his adherence to the Orthodox Christian faith. Consequently, the kadi ordered him put in prison.

After two additional interrogations by the kadi with the same results, Michael was sentenced to death. He was led to the place of execution, a journey which filled him with joy since this gave him the opportunity to witness as an Orthodox Christian.

Michael the coppersmith from Vourla, Asia Minor was beheaded and thus gave his life for the love of Jesus Christ in Smyrna on April 16, in the year 1772. He was eighteen years old. His body was buried in the Church of Saint Photini in the city of Smyrna.

Witnesses For Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860, by Nomikos Michael Vaporis, pp. 189-90.