October 6, 2017

Holy New Martyr Makarios of Kios in Bithynia (+ 1590)

St. Makarios the Venerable Martyr of Kios (Feast Day - October 6)


Before Makarios by his name was called blessed,
Now he is truly shown to be by the sharp sword.

The Venerable Martyr Makarios was born in Kios of Bithynia, and at Holy Baptism was given the name Manuel by his parents Peter and Anthousa. At an early age he was apprenticed to a pious Christian tailor who not only taught him the craft of tailoring but also instructed him in the teachings of the Orthodox faith.

When Manuel was eighteen years of age, his father voluntarily converted to Islam and went to live in Prousa (Bursa) for business reasons.

One day Manuel also went to Prousa to purchase materials related to his craft. By accident he encountered his father in the market place, who forced Manuel to go with him before the judge, saying that his son also promised to become a Muslim when he became a Muslim. But Manuel protested and insisted that he never promised to become a Muslim. His protests were in vain, however, for the Muslims in the court beat him and forcibly circumcised him.

A few days later, Manuel left Prousa secretly and went to Mount Athos. After visiting various monasteries and sketes, he chose to settle at the Skete of Saint Anna. There he submitted himself to a virtuous elder, and by him he was tonsured a monk and given the name Makarios.

Makarios spent the next twelve years at the Skete of Saint Anna, where he lived a strict ascetic life and shed a copious amount of tears of repentance. He then asked permission from his elder to leave Mount Athos and return to Prousa, to confess Christ as true God and shed his blood as a seal of his confession. His elder was reluctant at first, telling him to be satisfied with the tears of his repentance as having washed away all his sins, but Makarios replied that if he did not shed his blood for Christ, he feared Christ would not accept him into His Kingdom bearing the mark of circumcision.

Knowing that he was inflamed with divine zeal and his mind would not be changed, the elder with the other fathers gave their blessing to Makarios and bid him farewell.

At first Makarios went to the island of Halki, where he stayed at Holy Trinity Monastery. He sent word to his mother who came to see him. There he greeted her with love and gave her an icon of the Theotokos from the Holy Mountain. He did not tell her, however, of his intention for martyrdom.

A few days later he departed for Prousa. When he arrived, he removed his polystavrion (monastic garment with many crosses) and koukoulion (hood) so the Muslims would not trample on them. Then he went to the marketplace in his cassock, where he was recognized by Muslims and saw that he had become a Christian monk. They approached him and confirmed it was him, and when Makarios exhorted them to reject Islam and Muhammad and embrace Christ and baptism, they fell upon him and beat him. They then took him to the judge.

Standing before the judge, Makarios confessed his faith in Christ as the true God and rejected Islam, explaining that he was forced against his will to be circumcised. Among the things he said were: "What good does your faith have when it is deception, falsity, myth, error and nonsense and filled with every kind of filth. What sensible person believes in such a faith?"

This angered the judge and he ordered Makarios to be suspended from his armpits so that his feet barely touched the floor. Once a day only he was lowered and beaten. This torture lasted forty days. When he was brought before the judge after forty days, he saw that Makarios, rather than cowering in the face of further torments, was emboldened to endure all the tortures he could devise.

The judge then ordered for Makarios to be lowered once a day head first into an empty well and to be taken out for a beating and tortured and then lowered again. This routine was followed for ninety successive days. One night a heavenly light appeared in the well, and singing was heard, and a wondrous fragrance was detected.

Makarios' father was also there and had participated in the tortures. Out of curiosity he looked into the well and became blind. A Muslim who was also in the well as punishment saw the light and believed in Christ. He was later martyred in Kiutayia because of his conversion.

When the judge learned of this miracle, he asked Makarios about it, specifically about the light, the singing and the fragrance. Makarios answered: "Whoever believes in Christ not only can see these things but many other greater ones." With this he included examples from Holy Scripture. The surrounding Muslims listened attentively to what he was teaching.

When the Turkish governor saw this, he was afraid Makarios would convince the other Muslims to embrace the Christian faith. He therefore ordered that Makarios be taken out of Prousa to be executed near a river. His servants therefore took Makarios to the place of execution, and there they stoned him and beheaded him. This was immediately followed by lightning and thunder. His martyrdom took place on October 6, 1590.

The body of Makarios remained unburied for some time, and Christians waited for an opportunity to retrieve the body. Finally they secretly took it and buried it, but sent his holy head to the Athonite Skete of Saint Anna as a precious treasure for the monastery of his repentance. His mother also received a portion of his holy relics, while others were placed in the Holy Altar of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Kios. The rest of his relics remained in Prousa.