Miracles of the Chief-commander of the Bodiless Host, the Archangel Michael, in Byzantine Times
In the period after the New Testament, there are also accounts of the Archangel Michael's cures and wonders. Therefore, on this day, we call upon him as the protector of our lives, and celebrate his honored feast with the remembrance of some of his marvels.
The Church of the Archangel Michael in Sosthenion
When Emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337) was building Constantinople, it came to pass that he constructed a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael in the surrounding suburb, known as Sosthenion. The account of how this church came to be built is curious indeed. In the outlying suburb, there was a statue of a man with wings. The great Constantine marvelled at the work and wondered what it could mean. He asked his nobles, [t no one knew to whom it was dedicated. He then besought God, "Reveal to me after whom the statue was fashioned. " At night, the Archangel Michael appeared to him and said, "I am the Archangel Michael, the helper of the Christians, even as I have assisted thee in thy victories over thine enemies. For this cause, do thou build a church in my name, and I shall preserve thee from all thine enemies until the end of thy life." When the emperor awoke, he immediately set about fulfilling the command of the archangel. The church he erected was huge, for which he apportioned considerable revenues. On the feast day of the archangel, Christians from the suburbs were assembling at the new church from the outlying areas. One of the faithful had a child who was deaf and dumb from his mother's womb. The father brought the lad into the church and besought the archangel to heal him. After much supplicating, the archangel hearkened to the prayer of that poor father. During the divine Liturgy, the child was brought before the icon of the Chief-commander Michael. When the deacon was about to say, "Let us attend," followed by the priest, "The Holies for the holy," the child, instead, spoke up and said, "Let us attend." From that hour, he was healed. The father returned every year to commemorate and thank the commander of the bodiless host.3
The Deliverance of Constantinople from the Perils of the Avars, Persians, and Arabs
The Avars, mounted warriors, came to capture Constantinople. They used their sabers, long lances, and reflex bows that they might gain the advantage. The hierarch at that time gathered the faithful of the city, and they went to the Church of the Chief-commander Michael, where they entreated God to be delivered from captivity to the barbarians. Then, when the Avars were about to enter the city, the Archangel Michael, as a flash of lightning, appeared in their midst. Out of their intense fear, many of the Avars fell prostrate on their faces, while others took to their heels and retreated. That same night, the archangel appeared to the khan of the Avars and said, "Leave quickly with all thy host, otherwise tomorrow thou shalt die and thy soldiers with thee. " The khan, terrified, that same night, departed with his entire army and returned to his own place.4
At another time, the Persian armies assembled and besieged Constantinople. They encamped outside the walls and prevented food and supplies from being brought into the city. The populace was in danger of dying from starvation. Having their hopes only in God, they also brought to mind the previous miracle performed by the Archangel Michael. The people went to his church and supplicated him that he might work a miracle as before. Then on the day that the Persians decided to enter the city, as they laid their ladders against the walls, the Archangel Michael appeared to the invaders. Once again, he appeared as lightning, throwing the Persians into a panic. In the commotion created by this visitation, the Persians, in their confusion, began fighting with one another, thinking they were battling the citizens of the city. The Constantinopolitans, beholding the confounded Persians, exited the city, slaying as many as they were able.
At another time, by sea, a multitude of Arab Moslems attacked the city the strongest citadel in the world. This occurred during the reign of Emperor Constantine IV (669-685) grandson of Herakleios.5 The Arabs had already ravaged the countryside in Asia Minor, dragging off inhabitants to slavery. They already held Cyprus, Rhodes, and Kos. The peninsula of Kyzikos was also seized, which was in the neighborhood of the capital, thus providing the Moslems with a base for attack. News was then heard that part of the Arab fleet had captured Smyrna and other sections. The Arabs tried again and again to take the city. Once more, the faithful flocked to the Church of the Chief-commander Michael, imploring God and His archangel for help. The archangel hearkened to their cries. He pierced and bore through the Arab ships, causing most of the marauders to die of drowning. After a five-year siege, only three ships out of the entire fleet remained, and they turned and sailed back home in 678.
The Preservation of the City of Akolia
On the Black Sea, the city of Akolia was under attack by the Saracens. They tarried long with their forces outside the city. Not being able to take the city, they decided to depart. There was, however, a certain traitor inside the city who informed against the Christians to the Saracen chief, saying, "The Christians have a church dedicated to the Chief-commander Michael. It lies by the citadel wall. It is there that they supplicate God for His help, and for this reason you cannot launch an attack. " The Saracens, receiving this piece of intelligence, set about making war machines to breach the citadel wall. After they had prepared their ropes, rolling battering rams, and catapults, they readied one large boulder to thrust against the narrow church. As soon as it was catapulted, the faces of the emir and his officers, who were responsible for flinging that boulder, turned backwards. Those wretched men wasted no time loading down the camels with plenty of incense, lamps, and oil. They also took silver from the bridles of their horses and went together to the Church of the Archangel Michael. They swore among themselves that they would never come again to Akolia for many years, and that the city would come to no harm. After they had sworn this vow, their faces returned to their proper places.
The Archangel Michael at Colossae and Germia
The Archangel Michael is remembered also for the miracle he performed at Chonae, near Colossae in Phrygia. He parched the waters of the river which the infidels released against his holy shrine and Saint Hermippos. The archangel's large basilica in Chonae, decorated with mosaics, was a center of pilgrimage and great trade fairs.6
Now also in Germia, a city in western Galatia, below Mount Dindymon, the Archangel Michael wrought numberless cures. In 454, the consuI of Constantinople, one Stoudios, was sick and near death. No physician could offer him a cure or any treatment. At that time, a certain man, named Goulio, who was from Germia, came to the capital. He visited the sick consul and began recounting how many miracles were taking place in Germio at the archangel's healing spring. Even the little fish, with the aid of the Archangel Michael, were effecting cures. As Stoudios listened to the ,accounts, he believed that God would help him.
In the company of other ill folk, Stoudios traveled to Germia. Straghtway, as he entered that holy spring, he was cured. Not only Stoudios received healing, but also his entire traveling party. One of the members was suffering from glaucoma, and he too received a swift cure for his eyes. Studios, beholding the number of miracles taking place, then resolved to most of his fortune building a great church to the archangel.
The five-aisled basilica of ashlar masonry with much sculptured decoration still survives in Galatia. He endowed the church also with revenues for its maintenance. The consul also built homes for the sick and aged. All the while, sick people kept flocking to the site of the archangel's healing waters. Having come with faith, they were leaving healed, including many blind folk who recovered their sight, and the lame who were enabled to walk.7
The Cure of the Monk Markianos and the Physician
At the time of the restoration of the icons, during the reigns of Empress Theodora (842-856) and her son Emperor Michael III (842-867), there was a certain monk, named Markianos, who was living at the Monastery of the Archangel Michael inside Constantinople. Whenever Father Markianos became ill, he did not take reftige in physicians and medicines. His only recourse was to fall before the icon of the Archangel Michael, who always cured him of whatever ailed him. It happened one time that the monk became gravely ill. According to his custom, he hastened to the icon of the Archangel Michael seeking help. This time, however, the archangel wished to test him, and did not render a cure. The relatives and friends of Markianos came and reproved him for not seeking medical treatment, but he would not listen to their counsel. Unbeknownst to Markianos, they contrived among themselves that they would seek out a physician on his behalf. They found one and learned from him the proper course of treatment and received medicines appropriate to Markianos' condition. They were to administer them while Markianos was asleep. They, therefore, took the drugs and hid them in his head cushion, and waited until sleep should overtake him.
That night, instead of Father Markianos finding rest, those waiting to administer the drugs fell asleep. Father Markianos, not being able to sleep, remained wide awake. It then appeared to him that he saw the Archangel Michael exiting the holy sanctuary of the church, being escorted by two beautiftil and wondrous youths. He walked over to Father Markianos, as he lay on his pillow. Seeing the drugs, he said to the monk, "What are these?" The monk answered, "I do not know, 0 archangel." The chief-commander then said to the youths, "Take these medicines and put them under the pillow of the physician who concocted them. " Markianos then observed the youths walking out of the church. The archangel then took oil from the oil lamp before his icon. He proceeded to anoint Father Markianos, who was instantly cured. Father Markianos, sensible of the healing, kept giving thanks to God.
At midnight, the priest went to the church that he might chant the Orthros Service. He found Markianos healthy and restored as before. That same morning, the priest was called to the house of the physician, who had become gravely ill during the night. The priest then recounted all that he had heard from Markianos. The physician, therefore, came to understand the cause of his sudden illness. He rose up, being supported by others, and went to the Church of the Archangel Michael. He remained there all day, lying before the icon. By evening, he was cured, but he did not return to his house or profession. He decided to remain at that church and become a monk, bequeathing all he had to that church.
This and many other miracles were wrought by the commander of the bodiless host, Michael. Now let us recount selected miracles wrought by both Archangels Michael and Gabriel, that we may bring our account to a close.
The Archangels Help the Fathers at Docheiariou Monastery
The Docheiariou Monastery is located on the southwest tip of the Athonite promontory, northwest of Xenophontos. Though the origins of the monastery are somewhat obscure, it was first established by Efthymios Docheiarios (the cellarer) in the tenth century.8
The saint had a nephew, the patrician Nicholas, whose father had been a duke during the reigns of Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969) and John Tzimiskes (969-976). Since Nicholas' uncle was abbot of an Anthonite monastery, he loved to visit the elder and lavish gifts upon the monastery. At length, Nicholas forsook the world and the things of the world, and joined the brotherhood headed by his venerable uncle. In the holy tonsure, Nicholas was given the name Neophytos by Saint Efthymios. In time,the saint entrusted the holy Neophytos, as one superior in virtue, with the governance and concerns of the monastery. The holy Neophytos renovated,expanded, and improved the monastery. However, his fortune from the world had not sufficed to cover the expenses of iconography for the new and larger church. Nonetheless, our Savior hearkened to his prayer for this God-pleasing endeavor, in the following marvellous manner, during the reign of Emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates (r. 1078-1081).
The Chalkidike peninsula of Longos is approximately sixty miles opposite the Holy Mountain. This is where Docheiariou Monastery had its metochion, that is, a monastery holding. Near the monastery's holding there atop an ancient pillar the following inscription: "Whoever will strike my head will find much gold! " Needless to say, many cast stones at the top of the .column, but no treasure was to be had. Yet the riddle meant the top of the shadow that was cast by the pillar-that is where the treasure was hidden. However, God, in His economy, desired to unravel this mystery at the proper time.
At the metochion, there was a lad of about twenty years of age, named Basil, who was paid a wage as a laborer. He, too, with many others, visited the column and wondered at its promise of gold. One day, as the sun was descending, the youth went to the column. He noted where the pillar cast its shadow and began to dig at that spot. Thereupon, he came upon a marble slab. Below the slab, he uncovered a copper vessel filled with gold coins. Upon beholding this enormous find, the youth was completely overcome; but he quickly covered up the spot and hastened to Abbot Neophytos.
Approaching the abbot, he declared, "Holy master, a tremendous amount of gold is buried at our metochion! Send me back with some of the monks that we might transport it here to the monastery. " Saint Neophytos then dispatched three monks, who were seemingly pious, with the monastery boat. Thereupon, they went to the spot and took up the gold, its vessel, and the slab which concealed it. They proceeded to the shore and departed.
However, the monks were ill-intentioned. They were enticed by the treasure and plotted to keep it themselves. Therefore, they took up the slab and bound that honest young man to it from his neck. Then-alas!-they cast him into the depths of the sea.
Evening was drawing nigh. Upon being cast overboard, the lad invoked the aid of the holy archangels. Straightway, the bodiless host, Archangels Michael and Gabriel, appeared before him and, as eagles with golden wings, they caught him and took him from the depths of the sea. Then, in a moment, the young man found himself inside the monastery church at Docheiariou! Terror-stricken, he lay motionless in the church.
In the meantime, the three wayward monks divided the treasure among themselves. They hid their portions outside the monastery and then stayed by the dock till morning.
When the hour for Orthros approached, the caretaker of the lights and candles went about his obedience, so they might commence chanting the service. He found the youth in the church, but he thought he beheld a phantom. Therefore, he began to draw back, but then changed his mind and decided to approach, to take a better look at this spectacle. Not quite sure what he was gazing upon, he took to his heels, seeking the abbot. Going up to Saint Neophytos, he cried aloud, "My elder, there is a phantom in the church, and I cannot go inside!"
The abbot answered, "What dost thou fear? Make thy Cross and proceed courageously!" Meanwhile, the other brethren had assembled for the service. They, too, beheld the youth and hastened to Father Neophytos. The abbot then got up and went into the church with the ecclesiarch. As they entered the church, they clearly espied the youth. He was bound and asleep upon the marble slab that was tied to his neck. The abbot then tapped him with his staff to rouse him. The youth awoke, and said, "Tell me, 0 brothers, where am I? I thought I was in the sea where the monks had cast me overboard." Abbot Neophytos then questioned him, saying, "Dost thou not know where thou art? Behold, the monastery; behold, the Church of Docheiariou. Behold, I am Abbot Neophytos. Yet, tell us: How camest thou here?" The youth replied, "Leave me a space to come to myself."
After a short time, he related to the brethren all he had suffered at the hands of the three monks. Abbot Neophytos then said, “Tarry here till the morning We will chant the service until the three criminals come up from the dock to the monastery. Let them behold the miracle!"
Morning came, and the abbot ordered that the three monks ascend from the dock. As they stood before him, he addressed them, saying, "How goes your discovery, O fathers?" Then, in unison, they replied, "O elder of ours, the inscription played us false. The lad fooled us, and then, when we threatened him, he fled!" Abbot Neophytos then uttered, “Glory be to Thee, 0 God! Let us go into the church and thank God!"
Upon entering the church, when those three malefactors caught sight of the youth bound with the marble slab about his neck, from their astonishment,
they stood speechless. The abbot then threatened them. Thereupon, the three men brought the treasure into the monastery. Straightway, Abbot Neophytos expelled them from the brotherhood.
The youth Basil who desired to become a monk, was then tonsured and renamed Barnabas. At length, he succeeded the Elder Neophytos as abbot. Thus, the church
was decorated with sacred icons and named in honor of the holy Archangels
Michael and Gabriel.9
The Finding of Water at Docheiariou
Docheiariou Monastery also has a holy fountain named after the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. A miracle brought into existence this well. In the fourteenth century, during the reign of Emperor Andronikos Palaiologos, the monks of the monastery were compelled to fetch water from a distance of three miles. This caused many hardships and even sickness for the brethren. Monk Theodoulos, a builder at the monastery, planned to lay large underground pipes to convey water. Then, on the eve before the work would commence, the two archangels, Michael and Gabriel, appeared to Theodoulos and said, "0 man, why dost thou labor and exhaust the monastery in vain? Know this: Water is inside the monastery. " As Theodoulos listened, it seemed to him that he rose up and said to them, "I beseech you, show me where it is. " Thereupon, they answered, " Coi-ne, and we will show thee. " Then, the two archangels took him by the hands and brought him to a spot where, today, a well is located.
Arriving at the indicated site, they took up digging tools and began to work. Not much time passed before the archangels offered water to the monk. Theodoulos partook and found the water very sweet. Straightway, he awakened from sleep and called the brethren, saying, "In my sleep, this night, I beheld a vision wherein the two archangels came and showed me where water is located on the monastery grounds. Therefore, let us dig in that place they showed me!"
The brethren rallied and began digging. Forthwith, a vein of water sprung forth. The monks dug deeper, and drinkable water gushed forth. They glorified God and His archangels. The well exists to this day. The water is -well-reputed to be sanctified; and those who drink with faith find healing from sickness.
These miracles, brethren, which we have recounted are but a few of the countless wonders performed by the archangels. We have recounted these few which sufficiently glorify God and His archangels. O angelic hosts who stand before the throne of God and ever hold chorus, O archangels, and angels, principalities, thrones, and dominions, six-winged seraphim, and divine and many-eyed cherubim, vessels of wisdom, authorities and powers most divine, pray to Christ that He grant our souls peace, great mercy, and His kingdom.
Through the intercessions of Thine Archangels
and all of the Celestial Host,
O Christ God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Above is taken from The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church - Nov, pp 228-238, Trans. from Greek by Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Co.