Der Erzengel von Mantamado
Während dem 10. und 11. Jahrhundert, als das byzantinische Imperium
auf seinem Höhepunkt stand, war die Aktivität der sarazänischen Piraten
auch auf dessen Spitze. Sie plünderten seinerzeit die Inseln der Ägäis,
raubten und brandschatzten und nahmen dort die Leute gefangen, die
sie später auf den Sklaven-Basaren im Osten der Insel Lesbos verkauften;
eine gesunde und attraktive Insel, die bereits zum Beutestück der Piraten wurde.
In der Gegend um Mantamados lag ein Männerkloster, das den Erzengeln Michael und Gabriel und allen Engeln geweiht war, dessen Gründung in den Tiefen der Jahrhunderte zurückliegt
Der Eingang zum Kloster
Es folgt die Geschichte des Klosters:
(Übersetzung ist in Arbeit)
As we approach the Monastery of the Taxiarhes (Archanagels) of Mantamado, we note that it has the appearance of a well fortified castle with high walls and a tower. It used to be a truly blessed monastery containing many golden relics, icons, offerings and other church treasures. The monks who used to live there had an angelic demeanor. Gently-spoken and humble, they had an imposing presence and courage which made the pirates afraid to confront them. During numerous attempts to invade the monastery, they encountered vigorous resistance. Thus, the pirates determined maliciously to crush it.
So it was that one spring the pirates’ captain, Sirhan, a fierce and swarthy giant of a man, with sword and hatchet strapped to his belt, summoned his gang and said to them:
“This time, without fail, we are going to enter that monastery. I want only the golden cup (he was referring to the Chalice), that the monks use for the liturgy, so I can drink my wine from it. Everything else is yours.”
Interior of the Church
So, they set sail for Lesvos. They approached the monastery around midnight and hid behind the trees. They had already learnt the normal routine of the monastery and had waited for a night when a wake would take place in the church. They delayed till they were certain that all the monks were inside the church and the prayer of the monk on guard in the tower was focused on the angelic chant of his brothers, and then they attacked. They first killed the guard-monk and then silently massacred the monks inside the church one by one. They continued to the sanctuary and slaughtered the Mass servers; the abbot was butchered on the Holy Altar!
Inside the sanctuary there was also a young lay brother, Gabriel, who, witness to this evil event, scrambled nimbly to the roof of the monastery to save himself. He was seen by the pirates who tried to follow him to kill him. But, at that moment, a thunderous sound was heard and the roof was miraculously transformed into a tempestuous sea! Above the white caps of the waves, there appeared a huge and fierce soldier with a flaming sword. He advanced towards the pirates who abandoned their weapons and stolen booty and fled panic-stricken.
Gabriel, the only survivor of that tragedy, trembling in awe from the miracle, moved towards the icon of the Archangel Michael and fell to his knees. When he had recovered from the shock, he raised his eyes. But what face did he see? Instead of a painting, the face of the Archangel Michael seemed to be alive and had about it a divine sweetness.
The lay brother felt the desire to portray the face that he saw. “Archangel Michael,” he pleaded, “mediate with the Lord that He may give rest to the souls of my brothers and that He make me worthy to paint your beautiful image!” Immediately, as if enlightened by the Archangel, Gabriel took a sponge and reverently collected the blood of his brothers from the floor and put it in a pot; he then mixed it with white powder and started to fashion the Archangel’s face.
The miraculous ‘bas-relief’ icon of the Archangel Michael of Mantamado
From the outset, Gabriel was aware of the assistance of the Archangel with his work. His hands, which felt as if they were driven by an invisible force, quickly and steadily formed the face of the Archangel Michael with the clay. It was the same face he had seen in the roof of the Church. He was so concentrated on the depiction of the Archangel’s face that he did not notice that he was running out of clay and that he would not be able to form the Archagnel Michael’s body as well. So, when he realized that he had almost run out of clay, he made a thin line for a body and two smaller lines for arms and legs (just like the stick people usually drawn by young children!). It was already daybreak by the time Gabriel had completed the Archangel’s icon. Then, the first villagers of Mantamado started to arrive at the monastery on horeseback. The chilling sight of the murder scene made them shudder. They saw that the pirates were dead and scattered all around the yard. Every one of them had been killed by a sword stroke that split them from forehead to abdomen cutting their bodies in two. The sword strike was identical on each pirate! None of the villagers asked who had done that. Everyone surmised the identity of the avenger. There was no doubt.
“Your grace and your power are great, Archangel!” they whispered, each making the sign of the cross.
The characteristics of the ‘bas-relief’ icon.
Centuries have passed but the ‘bas-relief’ icon still preserves its freshness and remains as if untouched by time and the kisses of thousands of pilgrims. On the cheeks and forehead of the icon, believers place metal coins (for blessing) that leave marks on the face though these marks then fade away. From time to time, the Archangel’s eyes are filled with tears which Christians wipe away with little pieces of cotton. They do the same with the beads of perspiration which occasionally appear on the icon.
Another miracle is that a good and faithful person who approaches the icon to pray may receive an unique reaction from St. Michael the Archangel. The expression on the face of the icon might change to a healthy shade of red and sometimes there is a joyful smile on the face of the icon! But when a bad person approaches the icon, the Archangel Michael’s face darkens and becomes fierce and, on certain occasions, some people are held back from approaching by an invisible force! It is widely believed that the Archangel has appeared many times in the past to the Turks by whom he is respected and revered but also feared.
Offerings to the Archangel vary. Inside the church, a variety of military offerings such as swords, shields and uniforms may be seen. One of the most famous offerings to the Archangel was a pair of metal shoes known as “the Archangel’s Shoes” which subsequently showed signs of wear. Thereafter, more pilgrims have brought metal shoes and placed them near the Archangel’s icon. They then ask him to help find what they are searching for. Young ladies usually ask for help in finding a suitable husband. When their paths lead them back to the monastery, the pilgrims search for the shoes they had offered the Archangel. They then check the sole to see if the shoes have been worn and, if they have, it is a sign that the Archangel has used them to search on their behalf and that their prayer will be answered; if not, they take it to mean that he has not yet had the time to carry out that search!
Offering of Metal Shoes
Miracles of the Archangel Michael - Unexpected rescue
On 20th July, 1974, from the early hours of the morning. the radio was broadcasting news of the invasion of Cyprus by hostile Turkish forces. On the morning of the day after the Turkish attack, the sacristan of the church of the Archangels in Lesvos arose very early. As he put things in order in the church, he came before the full size image of the Archangel, which is located on the righthand side of the courtyard, to light the vigil candle when - “Oh, my God!!!” The sacristan stood mesmerised as if he had turned to stone. His eyes gaped as he searched for the icon of the Archangel which was missing. He was bathed in a cold sweat. His trembling hands made the sign of the Cross time after time. “But, how is it possible” he kept saying to himself “for an image two metres by one and a half, painted directly onto the wall and with an huge frame, to have disappeared?” He was still standing in the same position when the priest of the church arrived to say the daily Mass. He was surprised and concerned to see the look of amazement on the face of the sacristan whose eyes were glued to the same spot to which he also pointed with his hand. The priest turned to see what had so affected the sacristan and saw that, in the place of the Archangel’s icon. there was a massive brown-coloured frame. News of the event spread rapidly through the neighbouring villages and to the island’s capital, Mytilini, and there were many people who wanted to witness the miraculous event with their own eyes and to worship there. The icon was missing for a whole week. The icon suddenly reappeared in its original place, in the same miraculous way as it had disappeared.
Time went by. One cold winter morning the sacristan of Mantamado heard the galloping of a horse. He went outside and saw a young man who had just gotten down from his horse and was carrying a goat on his shoulders. They entered the church together and the young man proceeded to the Archangel’s icon and left the goat in front of it. He then lit a candle which was as tall as he was. He then knelt down and worshipped before the icon, caressing with trembling hands and eyes full of tears the clay face of the Archangel. “He is my saviour” he said passionately, turning to the sacristan. “He saved me from the Turks!” “Tell me, my boy, what happened?” asked the sacristan with interest as they walked out of the church.
“During the last incidents between the Greeks and the Turks,” began the young man, “I was carrying out my military duties in Cyprus. It was past midnight on August 12th, when we were caught unexpectedly in the firing line of the Turkish Cypriots. We were always on our guard because we knew how treacherous the enemy could be. We were having difficulties with their naval attack but were unharmed by their air force fire. Within a few hours, we had the situation under control and prepared to counter-attack. It was as if we had wings on our feet. We hunted them down and almost chased them into the sea. Full of enthusiasm, we were running towards the enemy with almost no back up. Suddenly. I see not more than five metres in front of me an unidentified shape. I stop immediately and then, in the hazy dawn light, I see clearly that it’s a Turkish machine gun! I see the barrel of the gun turning towards me and, having no-where to hide, I fall to the ground and cover my head with my helmet. “My Archangel!” I say to myself. “Save me!” The moment I uttered these words I remembered my father who was miraculously saved from certain death during the Albanian war, after he promised to bring a goat to the Archangel. “My Archangel, save me!” I murmered again, making the same promise of the offering of a goat.
At that moment, a deafening noise almost took away my hearing. “I’ve been shot!” I thought to myself and images of all those I love crossed my mind. Then, I felt someone touching me, searching for me, lifting me. They were our people.
“Are you hurt? How do you feel?” I vaguely heard them asking. I checked my body with my hands but found no wound. Then, I remembered the machine gun and looked towards where I had seen it but saw nothing. “Right here” I shouted “there was a Turkish machine gun!” We went closer and checked but did not find it. In the place where it had been located there were only shards and an huge hole in the ground.
It seemed that at the critical moment, a ship’s bombshell or some other mortar shell had totally destroyed the dangerous machine gun, while a superior force kept me safe from any harm that the explosion or fire might cause me.
The sacristan listened carefully to the young man’s story and seemed deeply moved.
He then said: “Yes, my boy, it was the Archangel who rescued you. Just when the Turks invaded Cyprus, this icon mysteriously disappeared for a week!” The young man was stunned. He gazed tenderly at the icon of the Archangel Michael, his eyes filled with tears. It was one more “thank you” for that unexpected rescue.
Archangel Michael’s intervention during an operation.
One of the numerous miracles of the Taxiarch of Mantamado in Lesvos (Mitilini) is the healing of a young boy, Vasilis Karastiras from Athens-Greece. The Archangel made an apparition to that boy.
Young Vasilis was playing when he fell and injured his head very badly. He was transferred to the nearest hospital where they claimed blindness and paralysis caused by the trauma.
The hospital chief invited Vasilis’ parents in his office and said to them:
“He is in a critical condition. He needs to be in the operation room immediately, but the hopes of the operation succeeding are close to zero percentage. You have got to decide soon, before it’s too late.”
The mother thought that she was loosing the ground off her feet. The father asked:
“Isn’t there any other choice, doctor?”
“I’m afraid, not” the chief doctor replied.
So the father took a pen and signed the forms allowing the operation to be performed on his child. The child was taken to the operation room and while he was being prepared for the operation-according to his memory- the darkness of his eyes flew away and a bright vision took its place;
He was standing before a temple with arches and the front exterior wall of the building was made of red rocks. A blinding light was coming through the temple’s open door.
Vasilis reached the door and saw a handsome lad, bathed in light with his arms stretched. The lad was calling for the child:
“Come, Vasili, don’t be afraid, you are going to be fine. I will lead the doctor’s hands throughout the operation.”
The child approached, kneeled before the lad, embraced his legs and leaned his head over his left thigh. The lad stretched his hand to pet the child’s head.
Before the vision was gone, the little boy’s eyes caught a glimpse of a dark figure with silver wings standing inside the temple.
The operation was a success! The paralysis and the blindness were cured. The doctors said that it was a miracle! The day on the calendar was the 8th of November, the day we celebrate the Great Taxiarchs.
Years went by and Vasilis was desperately trying to locate the place he had seen in his vision but all his efforts gave no fruit. That was until one day, when he recognized the temple of his vision in a television show. Deeply moved, he set off as a pilgrim to the Taxiarch, to offer his savior his tears of gratitude.
The Taxiarch’s interventions in Mrs. Michailaris’ life from Elefsina are written below.
She used to be childless and so was her sister, that’s why they both turned to Archangel Michael’s …
During a wake they did in honor of the Taxiarch, Mrs. Michailari begged Him to help her with her problem. At down she fell asleep. She had a dream that she was in the Archangel’s temple with her sister, when suddenly the Taxiarch appeared in all His Glory. She immediately fell on her knees and begged Him for a child. He stretched his hand as if He wanted to assure them both and said:
“Don’t worry. You’re both going to have children. Thank God for that Gift.”
Within 4 years, her sister gave birth to a child but she didn’t. Nine years had gone by, so she started getting desperate. She turned to science. Hard times with no results.
She was then informed that there was a doctor in England that could give one per cent chance of giving birth after operating on women and she prepared her luggage for a trip to England. But she felt a conscience control. At the last minute she hesitated. She thought of turning to the Taxiarch for enlightenment on her decisions.
She went to His temple in Mantamado and pleaded Him. At the same night and while she was praying, she saw Him coming out of His icon, totally alive with a sad look upon His face like He was saying: “Why did you loose heart? Why did you loose your faith in God and your hope? Weren’t you convinced by the example of your sister?”
She immediately fell on her knees and begged for forgiveness with tears in her eyes. Then, she heard Him say to her:
“You’re not going abroad. You are not going to have a child over there. Here, in your country, you are going to have a child.”
Within a month she was pregnant and she gave birth to a cute baby girl, Barbara. When the girl turned six, she took her and went to the temple to do a thanking wake together.
The mother left her child in a little cell to sleep and she went to the church to attend the wake. When she returned to her cell the girl was awake and said to her:
“Mom, when you where at the church the Taxiarch was here all night and kept me company.”
Later on the faithful woman lived another miraculous proof of the Archangel’s protection. On the day the Taxiarchs are celebrated, in 1989 she experienced a harsh and intense pain in her uterus. Within a short period of time it got worse. The necessary medical examinations were done and she waited for the results. The doctors talked about operation.
When she heard of that she refused to do it and started crying like a baby. She, again, turned to the Taxiarch and prayed with faith to Him so that he would again make a miracle.
Praying relaxed her troubled soul and when she went to bed she had a dream of the Virgin Mary- as a queen on Her throne- and the Taxiarch standing beside Her. They were both smiling at her.
The next morning she set off for the hospital to do the pre-operation tests.
She had too many tests and waited for the results. Then, the doctors called her and said to her that she was totally healthy and that she could go home!
She has been healthy ever since and she praises the Lord for the Archangel’s Grace He has given us.
Bibliography: Information in this article is extracted from the book 'Poetic History and Miracles of St. Michael, the Archangel of Mantamado' 4th edition, authored by Fr. Efstratios Dissou, Abbot of the Monastery of the Archangels of Mantamado.
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