Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene

Today the Orthodox Church commemorates Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. They suffered martyrdom by the Turks on the island of Lesvos on April 9 1463 AD, after the fall of Constantinople. St Raphael was the Abbot of Karyes near the village of Thermi on the island. St Nicholas was a Deacon at the monastery, and St Irene was the 12-year-old daughter of the major of Thermi. The three saints were at the monastery with the village teacher and St Irene’s father when the Turks raided it.






These saints were unknown for about 500 years after their martyrdoms during the Turkish occupation of Lesvos. In 1959 the three saints appeared to the people on Lesvos in dreams and visions. They guided excavations of their own graves, called people to repentance, and cured many kinds of diseases.






The saints revealed how they were cruelly tortured at the monastery, calling it a "second Golgotha" (in the words of St Raphael). St Raphael’s torture ended when his head was sawn off. St Nicholas died of heart failure when he was being tortured. St Irene was tortured in front of her father and burnt alive in a clay cask, where her charred bones were later found. The teacher’s head was cut off and placed between his legs when he was buried. A great deal of blood was shed at the monastery; the saints were martyred for the sake of their Christian faith and Fatherland.





The Saints’ Holy Relics were found in an astonishing manner. Raphael prophesised that the grave of Nicholas would be found on a rainy Monday. On 13th June, although it had begun as a summer’s day, the skies became cloudy and the rain came down as the workman found his resting place. On the same day, near to the grace of Nicholas a lead seal was found, dating back to the 14th century. On one side the Theotokos is depicted, whilst on the other the Archangel Michael. Also, the ruins of the ancient Church were found.



Additionally, Raphael also indicated the exact place where the graves of the other Martyrs were. The big earthen pot in which young Irene suffered martyrdom, the grave of the teacher Theodoros, the two graves belonging to the Community Chief Vasilios and his daughter Irene. Saint Raphael revealed that they were martyred by the Turks on the 9th April 1463, which was the Tuesday after Easter. Interestingly enough, the residents of Thermi, the village near the monastic community, preserved throughout the centuries the religious anniversary, without knowing its meaning.
Today, the three Saints are greatly venerated by all the Orthodox, who are able to visit this place, where a new Monastery exists, making it one of the most popular pilgrim destinations in Greece.


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