January 21, 2016

The Severed Right Hand of St. Maximus the Confessor

During the reign of the monothelite Emperor Constans II (630-668), Saint Maximus the Confessor was exiled three times, but before the third time an incident took place that earned him the title of "Confessor". To put an end to his teaching and writing about the Orthodox faith against Monothelitism, the Emperor ordered that his tongue be cut out and his right hand severed. Then as he was carried off to his third exile from Constantinople to the Caucasus, it was ordered that his severed members be hung around his neck as he was paraded through the City. Saint Maximus reposed in exile in 662.

By God's Providence, this severed right hand of Saint Maximus has been preserved and is kept as a great treasure in the Monastery of Saint Paul in Mount Athos since the twelfth century. It was the only known relic of Saint Maximus, until the 2010 discovery of his relics in his grave in Georgia which were authenticated in 2015.