September 6, 2021

The Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae Near Colossae (Commemorated on September 6th)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

In Colossae of Asia Minor, in the 2nd century AD, a miraculous event took place, featuring the Archangel Michael, which had been prophesied a few years before by John the Evangelist and Theologian.

Before proceeding, however, to the narration of this miracle, let us briefly mention that the angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve on behalf of those who inherit future salvation." God made them "leaders of all nations and peoples, and guides for their own good." They were created before the visible world and man. God "formed them before us and for us." Their appearance is bright and their garment is usually white, a fact that reveals their purity, and their food is the vision of the glory of God.

The Archangel Michael is referred to by name in the Holy Scriptures, where he is presented to serve the work of the divine Economy for the protection of people from any danger, and especially from the rage of the man-killing devil, who trembles at his sight, as we chant: "Wherever your grace overshadows Archangel, there the power of the devil is vanquished; for fallen lucifer is unable to abide in your light."

In Colossae, then, by the power of God, which was manifested through the Archangel Michael, a spring of healing miraculously sprung up, to which many sick people came daily by faith and were healed. A devout Christian, whose daughter was cured of an incurable disease, built a beautiful temple next to the holy spring, which he took care to cover for precaution. After several years, Archippus was placed as the guardian of the Holy Temple and the Holy Spring. He was a pious young man who remained there in a lodge, and lived in asceticism and prayer. However, the envious devil could not endure the existence of the Holy Spring, because it became a cause for the believers to be healed, but also for many unbelievers and idolaters to find the way to faith and salvation. For this reason he urged his submissive instruments, namely people ruled by their passions and envious, to destroy the Holy Temple and the Holy Spring. They first turned against Archippus, whom they abused and then left him unconscious. Then they tried to carry out their demonic plan, but were confronted by the Archangel Michael and had a taste of his power. Some of them remained there "marbled", others paralyzed, and others again saw in front of them a mighty flame that did not allow them to move forward, and so they left without doing anything.

These people, however, never stopped thinking about how they would achieve their goal. Eventually they conceived a truly satanic plan. They diverted the river, directing its waters to the Holy Temple and the Holy Spring, in order to destroy them, but also to drown Archippus. The Archangel Michael, however, intervened and changed the course of the river and thus they could not proceed to the destruction they had planned. Then they became more stubborn and decided to join two other rivers in order for the waters to be more rapid and thus to achieve, as they thought, their purpose. Archippus, who meanwhile had been healed by the Archangel Michael, understood their wicked purpose and fervently prayed to his protector the Archangel Michael, who appeared before him and signaled for him to follow him, in order to see, as he said to him, the wonders of God. They both stood in front of the Holy Temple and the Holy Spring and the Archangel Michael formed the form of the Holy Cross. Then the waters of the rivers were immobilized as if there were an impenetrable wall in front of them. He then ordered them to enter a funnel-shaped hollow, which is why the place has since been called "Chonae", "to the glory of the true God, and the praise and honor of the Archangel Michael."

The above gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

God always protects those who worship Him and invoke Him, and helps them in many different ways. One of them is that He sends His angels to help them and deliver them from the various temptations and especially from the fury of the man-killing devil. Those who truly love God with fervent love and strive diligently to follow the path of His commandments, that is, to live according to His will, they have experienced and are experiencing the wonders of God and accept the grace of God. That is, to the extent that they can cling to it, bear it, just as the three chosen Disciples of Christ on Mount Tabor saw the glory of Christ "in so far as they could bear."

Those who are deprived of human consolation, whether because they live in asceticism alone in the desert, or because they are fighting the good struggle of faith in the desert of modern impersonal society, they are comforted by God Himself, who sends them His own people and angels in order to accompany and serve them. And those who have simplicity and inner purity, they feel the philanthropic and beneficial presence of the angels, some, in fact, see them and converse with them, such as, for example, Saint Paisios the Athonite, who would see his guardian angel, embrace him and kiss him. Saint Sophrony the Athonite (of Essex), repeating the speech of Staretz Ambrose of Optina, said: "Wherever someone with simplicity is, they have with them dozens of angels, and wherever there is someone 'wise', they have none, they are alone." This means that whoever has humility and simplicity, even if he is not among people, does not feel lonely, because he has angels with him, who comfort him and strengthen him in his struggle. On the contrary, the wicked and the proud, because he pretends to be wise in order to stand out from the others, in the end he is abandoned by all, both the angels and the people.

Let us ask the Archangel Michael to always protect us, from visible and invisible enemies, especially during the time of our departure from the present life to be our supporter and helper. Let us say to him: "Beneath the protection of your divine wings, the faithful flee, Michael the divine mind, protector and guardian of all our lives, Archangel, and at the hour of our death be a most kindly assistance, well disposed towards us all."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.