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  The Miracle at Chios of the Five Holy Martyrs - Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugenius, Mardarius and Orestes

Commemorated December 13

        I CANNOT remain silent, states Saint Nicodemus, concerning the joyous miracle wrought by these five holy Martyrs, as it was recounted by the pious Protopresbyter Nicholas Malaxos at Nauplion. It all took place in a metochion of the New Monastery at Chios, which is honored by their name. I shall describe it here in brief for the benefit of pious Christians. This small metochion is subsidized by the main monastery, which provides for all its needs, including the essentials for the celebration of the memory of these saints. Once, a severe winter storm visited the area on the Saints' feast day. The snow was so deep that the fathers could not leave to go to the metochion with the necessary items for the Divine Liturgy, nor could the local populace get to church. Only a few of the faithful attended vespers. At matins, the priest alone lit the lamps, sounded the bells, and began to read the service.

      Suddenly, he saw five men reverently enter the church. They were well dressed and decorous, and one could see by their clothing and manners that they were strangers. In appearance, they resembled the five glorious martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugenius, Mardarius and Orestes, as they are depicted in their icons. Having entered the church, two of the men stood on the right side and two on the left, while the fifth, who resembled Orestes, stood at the analogion [reader's stand]. When it was time, he intoned in a resonant and clear voice, leading the others who chanted the sacred hymns in a sweet and exalted tone from both sides of the church.

     Beholding all this, the priest rejoiced and was delighted in his heart, praising the Lord Who had sent such help to assist him at a time when there was no one else available. He was near ecstasy, not only because of the striking resemblance these strangers bore to the saints in the icon, but also because of the eloquence of their reading and the quality and rhythm of their voices. He wondered whom they were and was perplexed as to what to do; for he was eager from the outset to inquire concerning their provenance. But seeing their stateliness, zeal and expertise, he decided to wait and question them at the dismissal.

       When it came time for the reading of the saints' synaxarion, [1] the one who resembled Orestes stood in the center of the church. He read with a splendid voice and great authority, while the others listened attentively and admiringly to the reading. When he reached the part where Agricola orders thc glowing hot iron bed to be brought in, that Orestes might be stretched out on it, and that the holy martyr feared, the reader changed the verb 'feared' (edeliasen) to 'sneered' (emeidiasen). Now the one who resembled Eustratius heard this and lifted up his eyes, staring intently at the reader. "Why," he asked him, "didst thou alter the verb and not say it as it was written? Read it again as it is written." But the reader again altered the verb, embarrassed to admit that he had feared. Then Eustratius said with a loud voice: "Read the passage as it really happened, because thou didst not sneer when thou sawest the bed; thou feared!" After all this was said, they all vanished from sight.

    Overcome by what he had just witnessed, the priest fell speechless, and it was some time before he was able to complete the service. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, he related the vision to the Christians who had later filed into the church, and they all glorified God Who glorifies His saints. Amen. 

(From The Great Snaxaristes of the Orthodox Church. Athens: Archimandrite Matthew Lagges, publisher, 1974. Translated from the Greek by Leonides J. Papadopoulos and Georgia Lizardos. Edited by Reader Isaac E. Lambertsen.)

[1] A brief account of the life of the saint whose feast it is, or a commentary on the meaning of the mystery that is being celebrated, In the Greek use, the Synaxarion is read daily at Matins between Canticles Six and Seven of the canon, immediately after the kontakion and its ikos. These readings are contained in a book by the same name.