Saturday, May 5, 2018

Saint Martha of Monemvasia, Abbess of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery

St. Martha of Monemvasia (Feast Day - May 5)

The life of Saint Martha, Abbess of the Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos in Monemvasia, situated below the Church of the Hodegetria, was written for us by Bishop Paul of Monemvasia in the tenth century. She was a very virtuous woman who suffered from a hemorrhage. For this reason she lived in the upper gallery of the church of the monastery.

One day a certain elder monk came to see her at the monastery. He was sent up to Martha in the upper gallery and asked her for one of her garments. She told him that she had only two garments due to her hemorrhage, one that she she wore while the other was in the laundry needing to be washed from the flow of blood. Nonetheless, due to her good nature, Martha gave the old man her washed garment. With this, the old man gratefully departed. However, as soon as the old man left, Martha noticed that her hemorrhage had ceased. Recognizing this to be a miracle, she sent a few nuns to go and get the old monk, but he was nowhere to be found.

On the very day and at the very hour in which the old monk had visited Martha in Monemvasia, suddenly he appeared in Thessaloniki at the home of natives of Monemvasia. When the old monk asked them if they knew Martha the abbess from the lower Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos in Monemvasia, they responded that indeed they knew her, and in fact they were related to her. He showed and gave them her garment and sent a message with them for her when they were to return to Monemvasia, saying: "Many things await you." Having said this, he disappeared, to their astonishment. The natives of Monemvasia then noted the day and time of this meeting, and when they returned to Monemvasia they relayed the message of the old monk to Martha. When Martha learned from her relatives of their wondrous meeting with the old monk at the very day and hour she had met him and was healed of her hemorrhage, they were all amazed and glorified God. They also surmised that the old monk was none other than Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist.

Martha also once saw the Mother of God from the gallery of the church while the nuns were chanting Matins for the Dormition of the Theotokos. She was sitting enthroned in the sanctuary, while Martha wept continuous tears. This vision lasted until the doxology at the end of Matins, when the sisters began to sing too loudly, for which the Theotokos disappeared. At this, Martha cried out: "What have you done?" When the nuns asked her why she screamed, Martha told them of the vision she had, and from that time forth ordered the nuns to chant the doxology more quietly and with a contrite heart.


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