August 11, 2016

Narration Concerning the Icon of Our Lord Made Without Hands and Maria the Patrician

Fourth Acheiropoieton Image of the Lord (Feast Day - August 11)


A strange wonder gushes forth numerous wonders,
Indeed the divine form of the wonderworking Logos.

During the reign of the pious Emperor Tiberius (574-582), in the year 576, a great and amazing miracle took place. A woman named Maria, who was from a senatorial family and who loved Christ, and was a patrician according to office, as well as a widow, suffered with a difficult and incurable disease. Despairing therefore of all human help, she dedicated herself to our Lord Jesus Christ, who placed within her heart the following good reasoning: This woman decided to have the Priests that minister to the holy despotic icon of the Lord made without hands called,* pleading for them to come to her. When they arrived, the woman fell at their feet, saying: "I beg you, my masters, because God has forgiven me to be chastised for my many sins, and by this dreadful suffering and incurable disease, for this reason I the miserable one would love, although I am unworthy, to receive into my frugal home through your holy prayers, the despotic and made without hands image of our Lord for forty days, so that perhaps it would incline the Lord's mercy towards me." Knowing the good life and spiritual state of the woman, the Priests brought the holy image to her home, and as soon as they opened the case in which it was contained, the woman fell down and venerated it. She then took a thin fabric of cotton and measured the holy icon, and then placed the fabric over the holy icon, putting it in a clean chest which she fettered, and placed it in the chapel which was in her home. Lighting a bright lamp before the icon, she ministered to it for forty days.

When the forty days were completed, the pains suffered by the woman became so strong and unbearable, that she was unable to get out of her bed. Calling for one of her servants, that she knew better than others, she said to her: "Bring me the case with the holy icon that I may venerate it, and find some relief from my intense pain which persists." The servant went to the chapel, and saw a frightful and amazing wonder. A fiery flame came forth from the holy case, which went up to the ceiling of the chapel, and covered the entire altar, and from the roof it went down to the floor, without burning any part of the chapel. Seeing this miracle the servant was astounded, and fell to the ground. Other servants came, and they saw her cast to the ground, which they revealed to their mistress. Greatly terrified, she came down from her bed, and with great struggle went to the chapel. Seeing the flame, she cried out: "Lord have mercy." She then immediately sent for and brought the Priests and ministers of the holy icon, and with them followed many people. When they all saw the marvel, they were astounded how the flame went up and down, like the sail of a ship, when it is blown by the wind, and so they also cried out, "Lord have mercy," for a long time. When the Priests said a prayer, the flame died down. Opening the case, they found the holy and despotic icon made without hands unharmed and complete. Whence they took the cotton fabric, which the patrician placed over the icon, and O the miracle! they found copied onto it the image of the Lord made without hands, exactly like its prototype.

Wherefore everyone glorified the Lord for this marvel, and embraced the copied holy image of the Lord. They then took it, and placed it over the painful area of the woman, and immediately her pain ceased, her suffering departed, and the woman was healed, becoming completely healthy. She therefore got up and glorified God. A few years later, this most-honorable woman came to foreknow her death (because she was a chosen vessel), and she made haste to reveal the holy image to the nuns of the Monastery in Melitene of Armenia, which is honored with the name of the Ascension of the Lord. With this on the woman's mind, behold there arrived in Constantinople Dometianos the Archbishop of Melitene, the cousin of Emperor Maurice (582-602), together with the first commanders of Melitene, by whom she wanted to send it to them. Thus when the honorable patrician heard of their coming, she handed over the holy icon to the Archbishop, stating her purpose, so as to have it sent to the Monastery there.

We should not be silent of a second miracle that took place by this holy icon of the Lord, when the Persians ravaged the land of the Romans during the reign of Emperor Heraclius in the year 615. At that time the nuns of the Monastery at Melitene, afraid of being captured as slaves, departed that Monastery and went to Constantinople. And because they were of noble stock, Patriarch Sergius gave them a Monastery. When he learned that they had the holy and made without hands image of the Lord, he took it from the nuns against their will. Because of this, there followed the Patriarch in those days many and successive afflictions, such as vexation from the emperor against him, the sudden death of his relatives and friends, and various troubles in the Church. As the Patriarch wondered why these things took place, and temptations followed him, he saw in a dream a terrifying man standing before him, who said to him: "Quickly return that which you unjustly took from the Monastery."

Rising from sleep, he called for his men, and asked them saying: "Why are these afflictions following me? And for what reason am I enduring them? Indeed this night I saw a terrifying man, who said to me, 'Quickly return that which you unjustly took from the Monastery.' And I knew not what I had taken." The men then told him: "Master, ponder not on anything, for you have been unjust to no one, but your afflictions come from demonic energy, as well as the fantasies that have come to you." The following night, that terrifying man once again appeared to the Patriarch, who sternly told him: "Quickly return that which you received from the Monastery of the Ascension. Do you not know that the nuns are foreigners and without consolation, for they came here fleeing from their homeland?" The Patriarch awoke and said to his attendant: "Brother, when you received from the nuns the despotic image, what did you think?" He responded: "It seemed very heavy to us Master, and although we had strength, it wanted to fight back." The Patriarch then understood, and condemned himself for it. Therefore he quickly sent the holy image of the Lord back to the Monastery of the nuns with honors, on the twenty-ninth of the month of November. And so the temptations and afflictions of the Patriarch ceased, and the nuns rejoiced, having received the holy icon to their joy and consolation.


* This refers to the Holy Mandylion (Aug. 16).