My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.
THIRD SUNDAY OF PASCHA
OUR HOLY CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE HOLY ICON OF
ARCHANGEL MICHAEL, OF MANDAMADOS.
On this day, the Third Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the miraculous relief icon of the Commander of the Angelic Host (taxiarches), the Archangel Michael, who is also commemorated on the 8th of November and the 6th of September.
Historical evidence of the famous stone Monastery of the Taxiarches of Mandamados (Mantamados) on the Aegean island of Mytilene, also known as Lesvos. The small town is famous for its pottery. The town’s name quite possibly is derived from the type of cattle that used to graze in the area and were called mandates or mandates or mandates. The monastery was most likely abandoned for a time after 1462 A.D., the year of the island’s occupation by the Ottoman Turks. In the past, the sacred precinct functioned as a monastery for men. It was first mentioned in an ecclesiastical document, dated 1661 A.D. The small church within the monastery originally dated from the 17th century but was replaced by a larger church in the 18th century. The present-day Cathedral, constructed in 1879 A.D., follows a three-aisled Basilica architectural type. The monastery is structured parametrically around the church.
The fact that an inordinate number of villages, including the village of Mandamados, are hidden among the hills away from the sea, IS DUE TO THE FREQUENT RAIDS OF PIRATES DURING THE MIDDLE AGES. The inhabitants of many seaside villages were enjoined to relinquish their homes and activities, such as fishing, cattle raising, and pottery for the sake of their families and their own lives. The people gathered around the famous and holy shrine of Taxiarches at the area known as Paleos Archistratigos, meaning "Ancient Commander-in-chief." At this area we can still find the ruins of the first Chapel. Since then, Archangel Michael is considered as the PROTECTOR AND PATRON SAINT OF THE VILLAGE OF MANDAMADOS as well as of the whole island during the Turkish rule…
"…From Bezantine times there was a monastery at the location, which some believe was destroyed by infidels. Others maintain that a monastery was again bult in the 16th century, with both a tower and high walls. There are, however, two accounts surrounding the date of the holy icon, one having to do with the Ottoman Turkish occupation and destruction of 1462 A.D., and the other with Saracen pirates during the 9th and 10th centuries during which time all the islanders sustained an invasion. In both accounts, the Taxiarches Monestary was the target of the infidel.
According to the most favorite tradition, Saracen pirates attacked the monastery, which had a brotherhood of 40 monks. It was a surpise attack which occurred while the fathers were in Church services. The pirates threatened the brethren with death by their sabers and daggers if they would not reveal the whereabouts of the hidden villagers. Upon the fathers’ refusal the marauders cruelly slaughtered 39 brethren that they found within the monastery during that day. The one survivor, a young novice, managed to escape and conceal himself. He had been ministering in the altar. As those murderous pirates departed the sacred precinct, the same novice clambered to the rooftop of the monastery. From that vantage point, he hoped to see the backs of the pirates leaving. Instead, the pirates espied him from afar. They decided to return and slay him as well, lest he should warn the rest of the natives of their arrival.
Lo, the miracle! The novice cried out for help to the Commander-in-chief Michael. Suddenly, a mighty wind blew that howeled in the ears of the unbelievers. Michael, opposing as a giant Angel with an angry countenance, furbished his gleaming two-edged sword. Brandishing it furiously, the terrified pirates fell into a panic not only at the sight but also the sound whistling loudly in their ears. They beat a hasty retreat to the shore where they set sail with all their might. The surviving novice wished to give thanks for the wonderworking (miracleworking) brought by the Archangel. The novice, composing himself, climbed down and entered into the courtyard. He beheld the horrible spectacle of the bloodbath undrgone by his beloved brethren. Only the strength of his faith sustained him. As he proceeded to bury their bodies, he wept and said at their internment, "Into the hands of Thy Commander-in-chief, O Christ God, do I commit the souls of my brothers."
Profoundly moved by the spectacle of the massacre, he wished both to make a memorial of the face of the Archangel and of his fallen brethren. His mind was filled with the intense memory of his deliverer and his heavenly face. Chanting hymns, the novice gathered up the bloodstained earth, reddened by the blood of the holy martyrs. He worked it and molded in with his hands, fashioned an icon-sculputure of the likeness of the Archangel whom he beheld with his own eyes. He executed the image with profound respect and reverence, that he might preserve the countenance of the INCORPOREAL BEING WHO ONCE UTTERED TO HIS FELLOW ANGELIC POWERS, AFTER THE FALLING AWAY OF THE DEMONIC HOST: "Let us stand well. Let us stand with fear." Now as it happened, the novice did not make enough of this mixture of soil and blood, so the head of the Archangel Michael has turned out disproportionately larger than the rest of his body.
This icon now resides within the interior of the church. Evidence of the numberless miracles made by the Archagel are attested by the numerous cabinets full of votives to the Archangel, which are housed inside the church. Many of the pilgrims claim that the expression on the face of the Archangel may at times appear severe or sad or happy, in accordance with the message that the Archangel wishes to convey to that pilgrim or to the faithful gathered. This is the tradition of the much-celebrated holy icon of Mandamados.
There is also a local tradition regarding the metal footwear of the Archangel. The islanders believe tha tthe Archangel speeds every night over Mytilene, wearing out his shoes. Many believe that this due to the battles waged by the Commander-in-chief on behalf of the Master Christ and for humanity. In the past, these shoes were regularly found in the morning before the church. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in Christ’s Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George