Σάββατο, 31 Ιουλίου 2010

SAINT SWITHUN, BISHOP OF WINCHESTER (+ 862)

By Vladimir Moss


Our holy Father Swithun (or Swithin) was born in Wessex early in the ninth century and educated at the Old Minster in Winchester. During the reign of King Egbert of Wessex (802-839), he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Helmstan of Winchester (838- c.852). He was chosen by King Egbert to be his chaplain, and to be the educator of his son Ethelwulf, who became king in 839. On October 30, 852 he was consecrated Bishop of Winchester by Archbishop Ceolnoth of Canterbury.

In 853 King Ethelwulf sent his five-year-old son Alfred, the future founder of the All-English monarchy, on a pilgrimage to Rome. He was escorted by St. Swithun. Pope Leo IV endowed the young prince with the insignia and dignity of a Roman consul. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he even “consecrated Alfred as king and stood sponsor for him at confirmation, just as his father Ethelwulf had requested when he sent him thither.”

In 854 King Ethelwulf “determined to give a tenth part of the lands throughout all my kingdom to Holy Church”. This charter was signed, after the king, by St. Swithun. His signature is also on other royal gifts of land to the Church. William of Malmesbury says that, if Bishop Ealstan of Sherborne was Ethelwulf's minister for temporal matters, Saint Swithun was the minister for spiritual matters.

It was a very difficult time for the English people as the pagan Vikings invaded the land and spread death and destruction far and wide. In 860 a great naval force even stormed the city of Winchester itself, but was later defeated. Swithun not only protected the kingdom by his prayers, but is also credited with building the bridge over the River Itchen at the east end of the city. He built and restored many churches in his diocese, travelling everywhere on foot. When he gave a banquet, he invited the poor, not the rich.

Once, when he was visiting the workmen at the bridge, the saint saw a poor woman carrying eggs back home in her basket. She dropped the basket, and, to her great distress, the eggs broke. However, the holy bishop, taking pity on her, restored the eggs whole and unbroken to the basket.

It is at about this time that an Anglo-Saxon poem called Judith was composed; it has been described as “one of the noblest poems in the whole range of Old English Literature, combining the highest dramatic and constructive power with the utmost brilliance of language and metre”. Professor Cook of Yale University thinks that it was composed by St. Swithun himself in about the year 856 in gratitude for the deliverance of Wessex from the fury of the Vikings and dedicated to Judith, wife of King Ethelwulf. In the poem the Vikings are represented by the Assyrians, the English by the Jews, and Queen Judith by her namesake in the Bible story.

St. Swithun died on July 2, 862, and was buried in a simple grave outside the west door of the old cathedral, as he had requested, so that the rain and the feet of passers-by should tread on him. The grave was identified and marked by archaeologists in 1971.

For over a hundred years, his memory was forgotten. But the Lord did not wish this light to remain hidden under a bushel. And on July 15, 971 his relics were translated into the cathedral to the accompaniment of a greater outpouring of miracles than had ever been seen in Orthodox England.

About twenty years later, this event was recorded by Abbot Aelfric:- “For three years before the saint was translated into the church from the stone coffin which now stands inside the new building, he appeared in a vision to a certain faithful blacksmith, wonderfully arrayed, and said: ‘Do you know the priest Edsige, who with other priests was driven out of the old monastery by Bishop Ethelwold for their misconduct?’ The smith then answered the venerable Swithun as follows: ‘I knew him long ago, sir, but he left this place, and I do not know for certain where he is living now.’ Then the holy man said again to the old smith: ‘He is now living in Winchcombe. This is the truth. And now I adjure you in the name of Christ: go quickly and give this message, that Swithun the bishop has commanded him to go to Bishop Ethelwold and say that he must himself open my grave and bring my bones inside the church; for he has been counted worthy that in his time I should be made known to men.’ Then the smith said to him: ‘O sir, Edsige will not believe my words.’ Then the bishop said again: ‘Let him go to my grave and pull a ring out of the coffin; and if the ring yields at the first tug then he will know for certain that I have sent you to him. If the ring will not come away easily, then he will by no means accept what I say. And after that tell him that he must amend his ways in accordance with the will of the Lord, and hasten single-mindedly to eternal life. And tell everyone that as soon as they open my grave they will find such a valuable hoard that their precious gold will be as nothing in comparison.’ Then holy Swithun vanished from the smith’s sight.

“However, he did not dare to tell anyone about this vision, fearing to be regarded as an untruthful messenger. So the holy man spoke to him again, and yet a third time, and severely reproved him for not acting in obedience to his commands. Then at last the smith went to his burial-place, and, albeit fearfully, took hold of the ring, crying out to God: ‘O Lord God, the Creator of all things, grant me, a sinner, to pull this ring out of the lid, if he who spoke to me three times in a dream is really lying here inside.’ Then he pulled the iron out of the stone as easily as if it had stood in sand, and wondered greatly at what had happened. Then he put it back in the hole and pressed it in with his foot. Again it stuck so firmly that no one was able to pull it out. The smith went away awestruck, and in the market-place he met a serf of Edsige’s, to whom he related exactly what Swithun had commanded him to report it to his master.

“The serf consented, but at first did not dare to tell his master, until he felt that no good would come from concealing the saint’s command. Then he told him in order what Swithun had commanded. Now at that time Edsige avoided Bishop Ethelwold and all the monks who were in the minster because of his ejection by then. So he did not obey the saint’s command, although the saint was a blood-relative of his. Within two years, however, he retreated to that same monastery, and by the grace of God became a monk, continuing there until he departed this life. Blessed is Almighty God, Who humbles the proud while exalting the humble to high estate, and corrects the sinful while always preserving the good who hope in Him.

“Again, there was a certain poor peasant, awfully hunch-backed and bent over in consequence, to whom it was revealed in a dream that he would obtain bodily health and recovery from his crippled state at Swithun’s sepulchre. And so he arose joyfully in the morning, crept on two crutches to Winchester and sought the saint as he had been instructed, praying for his health on bended knee. Then he was healed by the holy bishop, so that no trace of the hump which had oppressed him could be seen. At that time the monks did not know about St. Swithun, thinking that some other saint had healed the man. But the peasant said that it was Swithun who had healed him, for he knew best about the matter.

“A certain man was afflicted with a very distressing disease, so that he could hardly open his eyes or utter a word, but lay in torment thus, despairing of his life. Then all his friends wanted to carry him to the New Minster, to [the relics of] St. Judoc, so that he could recover his health there. But someone told them that it would be better to take the sick man to the Old Minster, to Swithun’s grave. This they did, and that night they kept vigil at the grave with him, praying to Almighty God to grant the sick man health through St. Swithun. The sick man also watched until daybreak. Then he fell asleep, and it seemed to all of them as if the tomb was rocking, while to him it seemed as if someone was dragging one of his shoes off his feet. Suddenly he awoke, healed by the holy Swithun. They looked carefully for the shoe, but no one could find it. So they returned home with the man who had been healed.

“Through the power of God eight sick men were miraculously healed at the holy tomb before the body was removed from it.

“After these signs, King Edgar desired the holy man’s exhumation, and told the venerable Ethelwold to translate it with great pomp. Then Bishop Ethelwold, accompanied by abbots and monks, took up the saint and and bore him into the church of St. Peter. There he remains in honour, working miracles. Then within three days four sick men were healed by the holy man; and there were few days within the next five months in which at least three sick people were not healed – sometimes five or six, or seven or eight, ten or twelve, sixteen or eighteen. Within ten days two hundred men had been healed, and so many within twelve months that no one could count them. The cemetery was filled with cripples, so that the people could hardly get into the minster. And within a few days they were all so miraculously healed that one could not find a sick man in the whole of that vast crowd.

“At that time there lived in the Isle of Wight three women, two of whom had been blind for nine years, and the third had never seen the light of the sun. With some difficulty they obtained a dumb guide and came to the saint, and watched there for one night, and were healed, both the blind woman and the dumb guide. Then the boy told the sacristan, saying that he had never been able to speak before, and asking for the appointed hymn of praise to be sung.

“At about the same time a certain bondwoman was caught and sentenced to be flogged for some very minor fault. She was put in custody until the morning, when she was to be severely beaten. All night she lay awake, weeping and calling on the holy Swithun to help her, the wretched one, praying that through the power of God he would deliver her from the cruel stripes. When dawn broke, and they began to sing the Praises, the fetters on her feet suddenly fell off, and she ran, with hands still bound, to the church and the blessed saint, in accordance with his will. Then her lord came after her and freed her, loosing her bonds, for the sake of St. Swithun.

“A certain nobleman had lain crippled by paralysis for many years, being unable to move from his bed. Then he said that he wanted to travel to Winchester, if only in his horse-litter, and pray for his healing. While he was saying this to his servants and friends, he was cured. Nevertheless, he made his way to the saint on foot, travelling in front of the company for the whole journey, and earnestly thanked the saint for his recovery.”

On one day, twenty-five men suffering from various diseases came to the saint, imploring him to help them. Some were blind, some lame, some deaf and some dumb. They were all healed at the same time through the saint’s intercession.

There was a certain very rich nobleman who went suddenly blind. He travelled to Rome to pray to the holy Apostles for a cure. For four whole years he stayed in Rome, but was not healed. Then he heard of St. Swithun, and of the miracles he had wrought since the nobleman had left England. Travelling back in haste, he came to the holy man and was healed there, returning home with perfect sight.

“Another man,” continues Abbot Aelfric, “had been blind for seven whole years. He had a guide who led him everywhere. One day he went out, but the guide became angry and left him. At a loss how to return home, the blind man cried out to god and St. Swithun in great anguish. He was immediately healed and returned home joyfully without a guide, for which his relatives thanked God fervently.

“Then the venerable and blessed Ethelwold, who was the bishop of Winchester at that time, commanded all the monks who were living in the monastery to go in procession to the church and praise the saint with hymns, and in this way to magnify God because of the great saint every time a sick man was healed. This they did immediately, and sang the Te Deum so often – sometimes three, sometimes four times in a night – that they came to hate getting up to do this, as they wanted to go on sleeping. At length they gave up the chanting altogether, for the bishop was busy with the king and had no means of knowing that they were not chanting the Te Deum continually. Then St. Swithun himself came, wonderfully adorned, to a certain good man, and said: ‘Go now to the Old Minster and tell the monks that God very much dislikes their murmuring and sloth, for they see God’s wonders among them every day but will not praise Christ with chanting as the bishop told the brethren to do. And tell them that if they do not sing the hymn, immediately the miracles will cease. However, if they sing the Te Deum every time a miracle is performed and a sick man is healed, then so many miracles will be wrought among them that no one will be able to remember so many miracles having been wrought in his lifetime by anyone. Then the man awoke from that joyous sleep, lamenting that he could no longer see the bright light which he had seen around St. Swithun. He arose, however, and went quickly to Bishop Ethelwold, and told him all that had happened. Ethelwold then immediately sent from the king’s court to the monks, and told them to sing the Te Deum as he had commanded, with the warning that anyone who neglected this would heavily atone for it by seven days’ continuous fasting. From that time they always observed this custom, as we ourselves have very often seen; for we have not infrequently sung this hymn with them.

“A certain man was unjustly accused of stealing, and sentenced to having his eyes put out and his ears cut off. He was immediately seized and the sentenced carried out. Then the blood ran down into his head so that he could not hear, and he continued blind and deaf for seven months. Until, that is, he went in faith to St. Swithun, and sought out his relics, and prayed to him that he would at least receive his hearing; for he did not believe that he would ever recover his sight. And he said that he had been unjustly punished in this way. Then through Swithun’s intercession a wonder of God was wrought in that man so that he saw clearly with perfect eyes, although they had been thrust out of their sockets and one ball removed entirely, while the other hung down his cheek. He was also granted good hearing – he who had formerly possessed neither eyes nor hearing.

“However, we should understand that we should not pray to God’s saints as to God Himself, for He alone is God and above all things; but we should truly pray to the saints to intercede with the omnipotent God, Who is their Lord, that He may come to our aid.

“Once some men were keeping vigil beside a corpse in the customary manner, when a fool, as if in jest, told them with unseemly laughter that he was Swithun. ‘You may know that I am in fact Swithun who work these miracles, and it is my will that you bring your candles to me and prostrate yourselves, and I shall grant you your desire.’ He foolishly blasphemed in this way for a long time until the suddenly fell to the ground, silenced, and as if dead. Immediately they carried him home to his bed, where he lay for a long time, confessing that he had presumptuously spoken foolish words, and asking forgiveness from the saint. And by the saint’s intercession he was healed…

“A certain nobleman’s servant had a sudden fall from his horse, so that his arm and left leg were broken. And he was so crushed that he immediately thought that he would die. He had been previously very dear to his lord, and the lord was in great sorrow for his servant, and besought the Almighty from his inmost heart to help the man through the great Swithun. And he also appealed to Swithun, crying out in sorrow: ‘O holy Swithun, pray to Jesus that He may grant life to this sick servant. If He does this through you, I shall be more faithful to the living God all the days of my life.’ Then the servant arose, made whole through St. Swithun. Then the lord rejoiced, and with faith gave praise to God.

“A certain old nobleman in the Isle of Wight had lain bedridden for some nine years, and could not leave his bed without being carried. Two shining saints appeared to him in a dream and told him to run with them quickly. The sick man said: ‘How can I run with you when it is nine years now that I have been unable to rise from this bed alone, without men’s help?’ Then the saints said: ‘If you go with us now, you will come to that place where you will receive healing.’ Then he was very glad, and wanted to go with them; and when he found himself unable to travel with them, they flew through the air and carried him until they came to a solitary field with brightly blooming flowers. And standing in the field was a church made of shining gold and precious stones. And St. Swithun stood before the altar, dressed in shining Eucharistic vestments, as if about to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Then Swithun said to the sick man: ‘I tell you, brother, from this time forth you must do evil to no man, nor curse any man, nor speak evil of any man, nor be malicious, nor agree with murderers, nor connive at wicked robbers and thieves, nor join in evil deeds, but rather, as best you can, help the needy with your own goods. Then you will be healed by the power of God.’ Then the sick man reflected that he did not wish to do evil except to those who had done evil to him, and that he wished to do good to those who had done good to him. But St. Swithun knew the reasoning of his heart, and said to him cheerfully: ‘Brother, I tell you, you must not do what you are thinking and harm any man, even if he harms you, but imitate your Lord, Who would not curse those who put Him to death, and commanded His followers to pray for their enemies. In the same way Paul the Apostle says to all Christians: ‘If your enemy hungers, feed him, or if he thirsts, give him to drink.’ Then the bedridden man said to the bishop: ‘O sir, tell me what kind of man you are, since you are so well able to discern the thoughts of men.’ Then St. Swithun said: ‘I am he who has just recently come,’ as if he said: ‘I have just recently been made known’. ‘What is your name?’ asked the man. ‘When you come to Winchester, you will know my name,’ replied the saint. Then the man was immediately brought back to his bed, and awoke from sleep, and told his wife the whole of the vision he had seen. Then the woman said to him that it was Swithun who had instructed him and whom he had seen looking so glorious in the church. ‘It would be very good if some men carried you to church,’ she said, ‘and if you prayed to the saint to cure you.’ Then they immediately carried him from his bed to a church in the Isle of Wight, and he was instantly healed. And he went home whole and on his feet – he who had been carried on a bier to the church. After that he went very quickly to Winchester and told the venerable Bishop Ethelwold how he had been healed through St. Swithun. And Landferth the foreigner wrote it down in Latin…

“A certain Winchester man became angry with his serf because of some carelessness, and put him in fetters. He sat in the hated bonds for a long time until, with the aid of a staff, he hopped out on one foot and with tears prayed to St. Swithun. The bolt immediately shot out of the fetter and the serf arose, freed by the saint.

“We cannot write,” concludes Aelfric, “nor recount in words, all the miracles the holy Swithun wrought by the power of God in the sight of the people, both on prisoners and on the sick, to manifest to men that they, like Swithun who now shines out through his miracles, may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of heaven by good works. Both walls of the old church were hung, from end to end, with crutches and the stools of cripples who had been healed there. Even so they could not put half of them up…”

Early in the eleventh century, St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been bishop of St. Swithun’s see in Winchester, translated the precious head of the saint to Canterbury. An arm was given to Peterborough Abbey.

Another great miracle took place in the middle of the eleventh century, as Canon Frederick Busby recounts. Queen Emma, the mother of King Edward the Confessor, had been accused of unchastity with Bishop Alwyn of Winchester. In order to prove her innocent she was obliged to undergo the ordeal of walking over nine red-hot ploughshares placed on the pavement of the nave of the Cathedral. The Cathedral annalist says: ‘The new was spread throughout the Kingdom that the Queen was to undergo this ordeal; and such was the throng of people who flocked to Winchester, that so vast a concourse on one day was never seen there before. The King himself, Saint Edward, came to Winchester; nor did a single noble of the Kingdom absent himself, except Archbishop Robert, who feigned illness and, being inimical to the Queen, had poisoned the King’s mind against her,’ so that if her innocence was proved he might be able to make his escape without difficulty. The pavement of the church being swept, there were placed upon it nine red-hot ploughshares, over which a short prayer was said, and then the Queen’s shoes and stockings were drawn off, and laying aside here mantle and putting off her veil, with her garments girded closely about her, between two bishops, one on either hand, she was conducted to the torture. The bishops who led here wept, and, though they were more terrified than she was, they encouraged her not to be afraid. All persons who were within the church wept and there was a general exclamation: “O, St. Swithun, St. Swithun, help her!” The people cried with great vehemence that St. Swithun must hasten to the rescue. The Queen prayed: St. Swithun, rescue me from the fire that is prepared for me. Then followed a miracle. Guided by the Bishops she walked over the red-hot ploughshares, she felt neither the naked iron nor the fire…

St. Swithun’s feastdays are July 2 and July 15.


Holy Father Swithun, pray to God for us!


(Sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Abbot Aelfric, Lives of the Saints, Early English Texts Society, no. 76, 1881; Frederick Busby, Saint Swithun, Winchester, 1971; “Swithun and Scandinavia”, in Winchester Cathedral: Record 1972; David Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 365; http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Swithun; http://www.orthodox england.bt/ internet. co.uk/servswit. htm

SAINT KENELM, MARTYR-KING OF MERCIA (9th c.)

By Vladimir Moss


The holy Martyr Kenelm was the son of King Cenwulf of Mercia. He ascended the throne in succession to his father in the year 821. However, since he was still very young, his sister Cwendritha became regent, while her lover Asconbert became the little king’s guardian.

One night he had a dream which he related to his nurse Wolwere: “I saw, O dearest mother, a tree that reached to the stars standing by my bed, and I stood on the top of it, from where I could see everything. It was most beautiful, having wide-spreading branches, and it was covered from top to bottom with all kinds of flowers and glowed with innumerable lights. But as I wondered at the sight, some of my people cut down the tree, and it fell with a great crash, and forthwith I made for myself white wings and flew up to heaven.”

“Alas,” said the nurse, “my sweetest son whom I have nourished with my milk, I fear that the falling tree means the destruction of your life through the wicked plot of your sister and the treachery of your guardian, and the bird which went up to heaven signifies the ascension of your soul.”

One day the king and his guardian were riding in the valley between the Clent and Romsley hills. The little king became very tired, and, having dismounted, fell fast asleep. While he was asleep, Asconbert dug a grave for him, and was about to kill him when he woke up. “This is not the place ordained for you to kill me,” he said. Then he drove an ash twig into the ground, and it immediately grew and flowered.

Undeterred by this miracle, Asconbert took the king to another place, and there struck off his head. The corpse was buried in the grace under the flowering ash tree with the blood-stained dagger by his side. Asconbert then rejoined his partner-in-crime, Cwendritha, and the two returned to Winchcombe, where they spread the story that the king had mysteriously disappeared and was nowhere to be found. Cwendritha succeeded to the throne which had been purchased at the price of her brother’s blood; but the whispering of her courtiers and her own guilty conscience pursued her everywhere. Desperately she ordered that anyone who should seek for Kenelm’s body or even name his name should at once be beheaded.

When Kenelm was killed, and before his grave had been completely filled in, a white dove appeared at the base of his skull and flew away in the direction of Rome. One morning, the Pope was celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Rome in the presence of many worshippers. Suddenly a snow-white dove appeared from above and dropped a scroll which it was carrying onto the Holy Table. Then it disappeared. The scroll was written in English, but an English pilgrim who happened to be present translated it:

In Clent, in Cowbach, lieth under a thorn,
His head shorn off, Kenelm, king-born.

The Pope decided to send messengers to Archbishop Wulfred to investigate the crime and bring the criminals to justice. Guided by the scroll, they came to Clent Hill, and began to search between the hills in the little valley called “Cowbach”. The lowing of a white cow and the shining of a radiant light led the searchers to the spot where the body lay under the tree. When it was discovered together with the knife, all the church bells in the region suddenly began to ring spontaneously. And when it was taken up from the ground a fountain gushed up which became known as a holy well because of the many miracles wrought through it.

As the body was being reverently conveyed to Winchcombe, the people came out from the town to meet their martyred king. At that time the queen was standing at the west end of the abbey church. Hearing the noise, she went out to see what was happening. Then, returning to the church, she seized a psalter and started to read Psalm 108 backwards, in the manner of those who practise black magic, trying in this way to halt the advancing procession. But when she saw the coffin her eyes fell out of their sockets, covering the psalter with blood. (For a long time afterwards this blood-stained psalter was shown to pilgrims.) She died in agony; and her body, refused burial, was thrown to the wolves and birds of prey.

The holy martyr-king was buried beside his father at the east end of the abbey church. Pilgrims flocked to the shrine, where many miracles were wrought through his intercession. In 1815, the two coffins were rediscovered, the one containing the body of an adult, and the other that of a young child together with a rusty knife. On being exposed to the air, the bodies crumbled to dust and the knife fell to pieces. The two coffins may still be seen in Winchcombe Abbey.

St. Kenelm is commemorated on July 17.


Holy Martyr-King Kenelm, pray to God for us!


(Sources: William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, 1, 94-95, 262-263; Gesta Pontificum Anglorum; John Humphreys, Studies in Worcestershire History, Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1938; David Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 231)

Πέμπτη, 29 Ιουλίου 2010

SAINT SWITHUN, BISHOP OF WINCHESTER (+ 862)


By Vladimir Moss


Our holy Father Swithun (or Swithin) was born in Wessex early in the ninth century and educated at the Old Minster in Winchester. During the reign of King Egbert of Wessex (802-839), he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Helmstan of Winchester (838- c.852). He was chosen by King Egbert to be his chaplain, and to be the educator of his son Ethelwulf, who became king in 839. On October 30, 852 he was consecrated Bishop of Winchester by Archbishop Ceolnoth of Canterbury.

In 853 King Ethelwulf sent his five-year-old son Alfred, the future founder of the All-English monarchy, on a pilgrimage to Rome. He was escorted by St. Swithun. Pope Leo IV endowed the young prince with the insignia and dignity of a Roman consul. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he even “consecrated Alfred as king and stood sponsor for him at confirmation, just as his father Ethelwulf had requested when he sent him thither.”

In 854 King Ethelwulf “determined to give a tenth part of the lands throughout all my kingdom to Holy Church”. This charter was signed, after the king, by St. Swithun. His signature is also on other royal gifts of land to the Church. William of Malmesbury says that, if Bishop Ealstan of Sherborne was Ethelwulf's minister for temporal matters, Saint Swithun was the minister for spiritual matters.

It was a very difficult time for the English people as the pagan Vikings invaded the land and spread death and destruction far and wide. In 860 a great naval force even stormed the city of Winchester itself, but was later defeated. Swithun not only protected the kingdom by his prayers, but is also credited with building the bridge over the River Itchen at the east end of the city. He built and restored many churches in his diocese, travelling everywhere on foot. When he gave a banquet, he invited the poor, not the rich.

Once, when he was visiting the workmen at the bridge, the saint saw a poor woman carrying eggs back home in her basket. She dropped the basket, and, to her great distress, the eggs broke. However, the holy bishop, taking pity on her, restored the eggs whole and unbroken to the basket.

It is at about this time that an Anglo-Saxon poem called Judith was composed; it has been described as “one of the noblest poems in the whole range of Old English Literature, combining the highest dramatic and constructive power with the utmost brilliance of language and metre”. Professor Cook of Yale University thinks that it was composed by St. Swithun himself in about the year 856 in gratitude for the deliverance of Wessex from the fury of the Vikings and dedicated to Judith, wife of King Ethelwulf. In the poem the Vikings are represented by the Assyrians, the English by the Jews, and Queen Judith by her namesake in the Bible story.

St. Swithun died on July 2, 862, and was buried in a simple grave outside the west door of the old cathedral, as he had requested, so that the rain and the feet of passers-by should tread on him. The grave was identified and marked by archaeologists in 1971.

For over a hundred years, his memory was forgotten. But the Lord did not wish this light to remain hidden under a bushel. And on July 15, 971 his relics were translated into the cathedral to the accompaniment of a greater outpouring of miracles than had ever been seen in Orthodox England.

About twenty years later, this event was recorded by Abbot Aelfric:- “For three years before the saint was translated into the church from the stone coffin which now stands inside the new building, he appeared in a vision to a certain faithful blacksmith, wonderfully arrayed, and said: ‘Do you know the priest Edsige, who with other priests was driven out of the old monastery by Bishop Ethelwold for their misconduct?’ The smith then answered the venerable Swithun as follows: ‘I knew him long ago, sir, but he left this place, and I do not know for certain where he is living now.’ Then the holy man said again to the old smith: ‘He is now living in Winchcombe. This is the truth. And now I adjure you in the name of Christ: go quickly and give this message, that Swithun the bishop has commanded him to go to Bishop Ethelwold and say that he must himself open my grave and bring my bones inside the church; for he has been counted worthy that in his time I should be made known to men.’ Then the smith said to him: ‘O sir, Edsige will not believe my words.’ Then the bishop said again: ‘Let him go to my grave and pull a ring out of the coffin; and if the ring yields at the first tug then he will know for certain that I have sent you to him. If the ring will not come away easily, then he will by no means accept what I say. And after that tell him that he must amend his ways in accordance with the will of the Lord, and hasten single-mindedly to eternal life. And tell everyone that as soon as they open my grave they will find such a valuable hoard that their precious gold will be as nothing in comparison.’ Then holy Swithun vanished from the smith’s sight.

“However, he did not dare to tell anyone about this vision, fearing to be regarded as an untruthful messenger. So the holy man spoke to him again, and yet a third time, and severely reproved him for not acting in obedience to his commands. Then at last the smith went to his burial-place, and, albeit fearfully, took hold of the ring, crying out to God: ‘O Lord God, the Creator of all things, grant me, a sinner, to pull this ring out of the lid, if he who spoke to me three times in a dream is really lying here inside.’ Then he pulled the iron out of the stone as easily as if it had stood in sand, and wondered greatly at what had happened. Then he put it back in the hole and pressed it in with his foot. Again it stuck so firmly that no one was able to pull it out. The smith went away awestruck, and in the market-place he met a serf of Edsige’s, to whom he related exactly what Swithun had commanded him to report it to his master.

“The serf consented, but at first did not dare to tell his master, until he felt that no good would come from concealing the saint’s command. Then he told him in order what Swithun had commanded. Now at that time Edsige avoided Bishop Ethelwold and all the monks who were in the minster because of his ejection by then. So he did not obey the saint’s command, although the saint was a blood-relative of his. Within two years, however, he retreated to that same monastery, and by the grace of God became a monk, continuing there until he departed this life. Blessed is Almighty God, Who humbles the proud while exalting the humble to high estate, and corrects the sinful while always preserving the good who hope in Him.

“Again, there was a certain poor peasant, awfully hunch-backed and bent over in consequence, to whom it was revealed in a dream that he would obtain bodily health and recovery from his crippled state at Swithun’s sepulchre. And so he arose joyfully in the morning, crept on two crutches to Winchester and sought the saint as he had been instructed, praying for his health on bended knee. Then he was healed by the holy bishop, so that no trace of the hump which had oppressed him could be seen. At that time the monks did not know about St. Swithun, thinking that some other saint had healed the man. But the peasant said that it was Swithun who had healed him, for he knew best about the matter.

“A certain man was afflicted with a very distressing disease, so that he could hardly open his eyes or utter a word, but lay in torment thus, despairing of his life. Then all his friends wanted to carry him to the New Minster, to [the relics of] St. Judoc, so that he could recover his health there. But someone told them that it would be better to take the sick man to the Old Minster, to Swithun’s grave. This they did, and that night they kept vigil at the grave with him, praying to Almighty God to grant the sick man health through St. Swithun. The sick man also watched until daybreak. Then he fell asleep, and it seemed to all of them as if the tomb was rocking, while to him it seemed as if someone was dragging one of his shoes off his feet. Suddenly he awoke, healed by the holy Swithun. They looked carefully for the shoe, but no one could find it. So they returned home with the man who had been healed.

“Through the power of God eight sick men were miraculously healed at the holy tomb before the body was removed from it.

“After these signs, King Edgar desired the holy man’s exhumation, and told the venerable Ethelwold to translate it with great pomp. Then Bishop Ethelwold, accompanied by abbots and monks, took up the saint and and bore him into the church of St. Peter. There he remains in honour, working miracles. Then within three days four sick men were healed by the holy man; and there were few days within the next five months in which at least three sick people were not healed – sometimes five or six, or seven or eight, ten or twelve, sixteen or eighteen. Within ten days two hundred men had been healed, and so many within twelve months that no one could count them. The cemetery was filled with cripples, so that the people could hardly get into the minster. And within a few days they were all so miraculously healed that one could not find a sick man in the whole of that vast crowd.

“At that time there lived in the Isle of Wight three women, two of whom had been blind for nine years, and the third had never seen the light of the sun. With some difficulty they obtained a dumb guide and came to the saint, and watched there for one night, and were healed, both the blind woman and the dumb guide. Then the boy told the sacristan, saying that he had never been able to speak before, and asking for the appointed hymn of praise to be sung.

“At about the same time a certain bondwoman was caught and sentenced to be flogged for some very minor fault. She was put in custody until the morning, when she was to be severely beaten. All night she lay awake, weeping and calling on the holy Swithun to help her, the wretched one, praying that through the power of God he would deliver her from the cruel stripes. When dawn broke, and they began to sing the Praises, the fetters on her feet suddenly fell off, and she ran, with hands still bound, to the church and the blessed saint, in accordance with his will. Then her lord came after her and freed her, loosing her bonds, for the sake of St. Swithun.

“A certain nobleman had lain crippled by paralysis for many years, being unable to move from his bed. Then he said that he wanted to travel to Winchester, if only in his horse-litter, and pray for his healing. While he was saying this to his servants and friends, he was cured. Nevertheless, he made his way to the saint on foot, travelling in front of the company for the whole journey, and earnestly thanked the saint for his recovery.”

On one day, twenty-five men suffering from various diseases came to the saint, imploring him to help them. Some were blind, some lame, some deaf and some dumb. They were all healed at the same time through the saint’s intercession.

There was a certain very rich nobleman who went suddenly blind. He travelled to Rome to pray to the holy Apostles for a cure. For four whole years he stayed in Rome, but was not healed. Then he heard of St. Swithun, and of the miracles he had wrought since the nobleman had left England. Travelling back in haste, he came to the holy man and was healed there, returning home with perfect sight.

“Another man,” continues Abbot Aelfric, “had been blind for seven whole years. He had a guide who led him everywhere. One day he went out, but the guide became angry and left him. At a loss how to return home, the blind man cried out to god and St. Swithun in great anguish. He was immediately healed and returned home joyfully without a guide, for which his relatives thanked God fervently.

“Then the venerable and blessed Ethelwold, who was the bishop of Winchester at that time, commanded all the monks who were living in the monastery to go in procession to the church and praise the saint with hymns, and in this way to magnify God because of the great saint every time a sick man was healed. This they did immediately, and sang the Te Deum so often – sometimes three, sometimes four times in a night – that they came to hate getting up to do this, as they wanted to go on sleeping. At length they gave up the chanting altogether, for the bishop was busy with the king and had no means of knowing that they were not chanting the Te Deum continually. Then St. Swithun himself came, wonderfully adorned, to a certain good man, and said: ‘Go now to the Old Minster and tell the monks that God very much dislikes their murmuring and sloth, for they see God’s wonders among them every day but will not praise Christ with chanting as the bishop told the brethren to do. And tell them that if they do not sing the hymn, immediately the miracles will cease. However, if they sing the Te Deum every time a miracle is performed and a sick man is healed, then so many miracles will be wrought among them that no one will be able to remember so many miracles having been wrought in his lifetime by anyone. Then the man awoke from that joyous sleep, lamenting that he could no longer see the bright light which he had seen around St. Swithun. He arose, however, and went quickly to Bishop Ethelwold, and told him all that had happened. Ethelwold then immediately sent from the king’s court to the monks, and told them to sing the Te Deum as he had commanded, with the warning that anyone who neglected this would heavily atone for it by seven days’ continuous fasting. From that time they always observed this custom, as we ourselves have very often seen; for we have not infrequently sung this hymn with them.

“A certain man was unjustly accused of stealing, and sentenced to having his eyes put out and his ears cut off. He was immediately seized and the sentenced carried out. Then the blood ran down into his head so that he could not hear, and he continued blind and deaf for seven months. Until, that is, he went in faith to St. Swithun, and sought out his relics, and prayed to him that he would at least receive his hearing; for he did not believe that he would ever recover his sight. And he said that he had been unjustly punished in this way. Then through Swithun’s intercession a wonder of God was wrought in that man so that he saw clearly with perfect eyes, although they had been thrust out of their sockets and one ball removed entirely, while the other hung down his cheek. He was also granted good hearing – he who had formerly possessed neither eyes nor hearing.

“However, we should understand that we should not pray to God’s saints as to God Himself, for He alone is God and above all things; but we should truly pray to the saints to intercede with the omnipotent God, Who is their Lord, that He may come to our aid.

“Once some men were keeping vigil beside a corpse in the customary manner, when a fool, as if in jest, told them with unseemly laughter that he was Swithun. ‘You may know that I am in fact Swithun who work these miracles, and it is my will that you bring your candles to me and prostrate yourselves, and I shall grant you your desire.’ He foolishly blasphemed in this way for a long time until the suddenly fell to the ground, silenced, and as if dead. Immediately they carried him home to his bed, where he lay for a long time, confessing that he had presumptuously spoken foolish words, and asking forgiveness from the saint. And by the saint’s intercession he was healed…

“A certain nobleman’s servant had a sudden fall from his horse, so that his arm and left leg were broken. And he was so crushed that he immediately thought that he would die. He had been previously very dear to his lord, and the lord was in great sorrow for his servant, and besought the Almighty from his inmost heart to help the man through the great Swithun. And he also appealed to Swithun, crying out in sorrow: ‘O holy Swithun, pray to Jesus that He may grant life to this sick servant. If He does this through you, I shall be more faithful to the living God all the days of my life.’ Then the servant arose, made whole through St. Swithun. Then the lord rejoiced, and with faith gave praise to God.

“A certain old nobleman in the Isle of Wight had lain bedridden for some nine years, and could not leave his bed without being carried. Two shining saints appeared to him in a dream and told him to run with them quickly. The sick man said: ‘How can I run with you when it is nine years now that I have been unable to rise from this bed alone, without men’s help?’ Then the saints said: ‘If you go with us now, you will come to that place where you will receive healing.’ Then he was very glad, and wanted to go with them; and when he found himself unable to travel with them, they flew through the air and carried him until they came to a solitary field with brightly blooming flowers. And standing in the field was a church made of shining gold and precious stones. And St. Swithun stood before the altar, dressed in shining Eucharistic vestments, as if about to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Then Swithun said to the sick man: ‘I tell you, brother, from this time forth you must do evil to no man, nor curse any man, nor speak evil of any man, nor be malicious, nor agree with murderers, nor connive at wicked robbers and thieves, nor join in evil deeds, but rather, as best you can, help the needy with your own goods. Then you will be healed by the power of God.’ Then the sick man reflected that he did not wish to do evil except to those who had done evil to him, and that he wished to do good to those who had done good to him. But St. Swithun knew the reasoning of his heart, and said to him cheerfully: ‘Brother, I tell you, you must not do what you are thinking and harm any man, even if he harms you, but imitate your Lord, Who would not curse those who put Him to death, and commanded His followers to pray for their enemies. In the same way Paul the Apostle says to all Christians: ‘If your enemy hungers, feed him, or if he thirsts, give him to drink.’ Then the bedridden man said to the bishop: ‘O sir, tell me what kind of man you are, since you are so well able to discern the thoughts of men.’ Then St. Swithun said: ‘I am he who has just recently come,’ as if he said: ‘I have just recently been made known’. ‘What is your name?’ asked the man. ‘When you come to Winchester, you will know my name,’ replied the saint. Then the man was immediately brought back to his bed, and awoke from sleep, and told his wife the whole of the vision he had seen. Then the woman said to him that it was Swithun who had instructed him and whom he had seen looking so glorious in the church. ‘It would be very good if some men carried you to church,’ she said, ‘and if you prayed to the saint to cure you.’ Then they immediately carried him from his bed to a church in the Isle of Wight, and he was instantly healed. And he went home whole and on his feet – he who had been carried on a bier to the church. After that he went very quickly to Winchester and told the venerable Bishop Ethelwold how he had been healed through St. Swithun. And Landferth the foreigner wrote it down in Latin…

“A certain Winchester man became angry with his serf because of some carelessness, and put him in fetters. He sat in the hated bonds for a long time until, with the aid of a staff, he hopped out on one foot and with tears prayed to St. Swithun. The bolt immediately shot out of the fetter and the serf arose, freed by the saint.

“We cannot write,” concludes Aelfric, “nor recount in words, all the miracles the holy Swithun wrought by the power of God in the sight of the people, both on prisoners and on the sick, to manifest to men that they, like Swithun who now shines out through his miracles, may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of heaven by good works. Both walls of the old church were hung, from end to end, with crutches and the stools of cripples who had been healed there. Even so they could not put half of them up…”

Early in the eleventh century, St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been bishop of St. Swithun’s see in Winchester, translated the precious head of the saint to Canterbury. An arm was given to Peterborough Abbey.

Another great miracle took place in the middle of the eleventh century, as Canon Frederick Busby recounts. Queen Emma, the mother of King Edward the Confessor, had been accused of unchastity with Bishop Alwyn of Winchester. In order to prove her innocent she was obliged to undergo the ordeal of walking over nine red-hot ploughshares placed on the pavement of the nave of the Cathedral. The Cathedral annalist says: ‘The new was spread throughout the Kingdom that the Queen was to undergo this ordeal; and such was the throng of people who flocked to Winchester, that so vast a concourse on one day was never seen there before. The King himself, Saint Edward, came to Winchester; nor did a single noble of the Kingdom absent himself, except Archbishop Robert, who feigned illness and, being inimical to the Queen, had poisoned the King’s mind against her,’ so that if her innocence was proved he might be able to make his escape without difficulty. The pavement of the church being swept, there were placed upon it nine red-hot ploughshares, over which a short prayer was said, and then the Queen’s shoes and stockings were drawn off, and laying aside here mantle and putting off her veil, with her garments girded closely about her, between two bishops, one on either hand, she was conducted to the torture. The bishops who led here wept, and, though they were more terrified than she was, they encouraged her not to be afraid. All persons who were within the church wept and there was a general exclamation: “O, St. Swithun, St. Swithun, help her!” The people cried with great vehemence that St. Swithun must hasten to the rescue. The Queen prayed: St. Swithun, rescue me from the fire that is prepared for me. Then followed a miracle. Guided by the Bishops she walked over the red-hot ploughshares, she felt neither the naked iron nor the fire…

St. Swithun’s feastdays are July 2 and July 15.


Holy Father Swithun, pray to God for us!


(Sources: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Abbot Aelfric, Lives of the Saints, Early English Texts Society, no. 76, 1881; Frederick Busby, Saint Swithun, Winchester, 1971; “Swithun and Scandinavia”, in Winchester Cathedral: Record 1972; David Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1978, p. 365; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swithun; http://www.orthodoxengland.bt/internet.co.uk/servswit.htm)

SAINT MILDRED, ABBESS OF THANET IN KENT (ca 700)

By Vladimir Moss


Our holy Mother Mildred was the second daughter of King Merewald of Mercia and his wife St. Ermenburga, and the sister of Saints Mildburga and Mildgitha. She was sent for her education to the convent of Chelles in France, which had been founded by the English slave-girl, later Queen of France, St. Bathildes. Mildred was received by Abbess Wilcoma, and by her humility and gentleness soon became a favourite with the other pupils, excelling them in learning and even equalling her teachers.

But then a certain rich, good-looking young nobleman who was a near relation of the abbess fell in love with the saint. He proposed marriage, offering her lands, riches and honours. The abbess also pressed his suit, tempting her with gifts and the prospect of becoming a member of the royal house of France. But Mildred refused, saying: "I have come to school to learn, not to be married. I beg to be taught the discipline and fear of the Lord, and not the sin of ambition. Your entreaties terrify me more than your threats." The abbess was furious at this refusal; and after she had heated a furnace with a huge fire, she pushed Mildred into it, fastening the door. Three hours later she came back, expecting to find only ashes. But instead she heard the virgin singing in a clear voice: "Thou hast tried me, O Lord, in the fire, and hast found no wickedness in me." When the doors were thrown open, she appeared as if arrayed in gold. Everyone was terrified, as if the dead had come to life. The whole town was astonished, and multitudes came filling the house, the market place and the fields, counting themselves fortunate just to catch a sight of the virgin. For was it not a miracle that not one hair of her head or thread of her clothing was harmed?

Some days later, the abbess rushed at Mildred, threw her to the ground, stamped on her, kicked her, thrashed her, scratched her, pulled the hair out of head, and left her half dead. The virgin picked up the hair, and later, when she was transcribing a psalter in a way that she knew would be recognized by her mother, she placed it, still covered with dried blood, as if it were a relic of the martyrs, in the upper margin of the little book. At the same time she begged, with tears falling on the letter, that she might be delivered from the tribulations of her life, and rest in the Lord. St. Ermenburga, filled with compassion, wanted to set out immediately to rescue her daughter. But she felt her end was approaching, so instead she sent reliable people with some sailors to demand the return of her daughter from the abbess. The messengers were hospitably received, but the day of their departure was delayed; for the abbess in her rage and hatred of the English persuaded the bishop that Mildred should remain in France for the honour of the country.

Mildred serenely put her trust in God, and one night, in accordance with an agreed plan, she stole out and met her friends the messengers. After they had gone a short way, however, she remembered with grief that she had left behind a nail from the Cross of the Lord, which she had obtained at great price and which she intended as a gift for her mother. She decided to return, while her companions waited for her. Having recovered the treasure, she ran back, and eventually reached the sea and the ships which were to take her away.

In the morning her flight was discovered, and amidst great commotion a thorough search for her was undertaken. The bishop was blamed for his inactivity, and the abbess agitatedly asked him to assemble an armed force and go after the girl. The saint and her companions were already on board ship, with everything in order and the sails swelling in the wind, waiting for the tide to change. But then in the distance they saw crowds of Frenchmen and cavalry in warlike array advancing towards them with a dull murmuring sound. The sailors, who were few in number and unwarlike, began to lose hope; for with the tide out, the ships were on dry land.

Suddenly the pursuers started to fight against each other and kill each other. Seeing this, Mildred cried out in the words of David: "I have called upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou hast heard me. More and more do I cry, incline Thine ear and hearken unto me. O Thou Creator and Lord, Who hast made all things in heaven and on earth, and didst lead Thy people through the midst of the sea, deliver me from mine enemies that follow after me, and bring me in safety to my homeland and to my mother." Scarcely had she said this when the tide flowed in impetuously and the shore quickly became the sea. The sea floated the ships, caused confusion among the soldiers and fought on the side of the sailors. The rowers took to their oars, and with sails set the keels clove the waves, while the enemy in vain discharged their arrows and javelins across the water. Then Mildred like a new Miriam sang a song of praise to God.

After a pleasant voyage, they arrived at Ebbsfleet on the coast of Kent. As Mildred stepped out of the boat, her foot imprinted itself on the rock as if it had been soft mud. This indelible sign of her landing caused many cures. For sick people came, made a solution from the dust scraped from the rock, and were healed. The people enclosed the footprint in a shrine, and healings continued to be wrought there.

In about 690 Mildred was tonsured a nun by her mother in the monastery founded by her at Minster-in-Thanet, on land provided by King Egbert of Kent in compensation for the murder of her brothers the Martyr-Princes Ethelred and Ethelbricht. A few years later Mildred was consecrated abbess in succession to her mother by St. Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury. And in 694 she attended and signed a council held in Kent.

After ruling the community for thirty-five years, Mildred reposed in peace after a long illness in about the year 700, on July 13. In 741 her successor, Abbess Edburga, translated the relics of Saint Mildred to a new monastery built somewhat further inland, on the site of what is now Minster Abbey. At that time the holy virgin's body together with her vestments were found to be completely incorrupt as if she were sleeping. Many miracles were wrought at her tomb.

Once, during the time of Abbess Edburga, a bell-ringer fell asleep while on duty. St. Mildred appeared to him, boxed him on the ear and said to him: "Understand, fellow, that this is an oratory to pray in, not a dormitory to sleep in". Then she vanished.

The monastery was destroyed by the Danes in about 840, the bodies of St. Mildred and her sister St. Mildgytha were transferred to Lyminge, and from there, in 1085, to St. Gregory's hospital in Canterbury. According to another tradition, however, in 1027 the monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury begged King Canute to give them the site and the relics of St. Mildred. He readily granted them the site, but promised them the relics only on condition that he returned safely from a pilgrimage to Rome which he made in 1031. In the event, he returned safely after having been rescued from shipwreck through the intercession of St. Augustine. And so Abbot Elfstan of Canterbury was granted his request.

The king's letter reached him on the eve of Pentecost. On the same day he came to Minster, accompanied by Provost Godwin and two trusted monks, Bennet and Rudolph. On the next day, since it was a great feast, he invited many of his friends and neighbours to a meal, so that no-one suspected anything.

When night came on, Elfstan and his three brethren went noiselessly to St. Mildred's shrine and tried to force it open. In this they were at first unsuccessful, but after much prayer the lid of the sepulchre was raised and the remaining relics of the saint were reverently folded in a white cloth and borne secretly away. The burden was light, consisting of fleshless bones, many of them already crumbled into dust.

The people of Thanet heard of what the monks were doing and rushed off in pursuit, arming themselves with swords and staves and weapons of all kinds. But the monks had a fair start, and when the angry multitude first sighted them, they had already secured the ferry-boat at Saare, which belonged to their abbey, and were rowing over the broad waters of the Wantsum. And the pursuers, having no boat in which continue the chase, returned home.

Once Queen Emma, the widow of King Canute, being reduced to poverty and despair because she was in disfavour with her son, King Edward the Confessor, had a dream in which the saint promised to help her because she and her husband had permitted the translation of her relics from Thanet to St. Augustine's, Canterbury. Then Emma borrowed 20 shillings and sent it to Abbot Elfstan of St. Augustine's, and, miraculously, the king's heart was changed. Edward felt shame for the injury he had done his mother, begged her forgiveness and restored her to her former dignity.

Fifty-five years after the translation, a certain knight broke into a military storeroom and stole a large quantity of material. On the eve of the feast of the Translation of St. Mildred's relics, he was captured, closely confined in Canterbury Castle, and placed in fetters. But such was his devotion to the holy virgin that when the bell of the monastery began to ring, his chains fell off, his jailors were paralyzed and the prison doors opened before him. He rushed towards the shrine of the saint, and although the doors of the monastery were closed he clung so tightly to the window of the crypt that no-one was able to drag him away. Eventually the matter was referred to the king who pardoned the knight who was so evidently under the protection of St. Mildred. Some of the saint's relics have now been returned to Minster Abbey.

St. Mildred is commemorated on July 13.


Holy Mother Mildred, pray to God for us!


(Sources: An Old English manuscript Caligula A. xiv (tenth century); Goscelin, Life of St. Mildred (eleventh century); William of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontificum Anglorum (c. 1120); St. Mildred and her Kinsfolk, Ramsgate: Monastery Press, 1950; Frank Barlow, "Two Notes: Cnut's Second Pilgrimage and Queen Emma's Disgrace in 1043", English Historical Review, lxxiii (1958); Dom Gregory Bush, Minster Abbey 670 to 1965)

SAINT DROSTAN, ABBOT OF DEER (6th c.)


By Vladimir Moss


Our holy Father Drostan (Drust or Trust) was, according to one source, an Irishman, and according to another, a Welshman.

According to the Breviary of Aberdeen and an insertion into the tenth-century Gospel book known as The Book of Deer, St. Drostan was the son of Cosgrach and the nephew of St. Columba of Iona (+597). Having come to maturity, he expressed a desire to become a monk, so his parents handed him over to his uncle, who was then living in Ireland, to be educated. He became a monk in the monastery of Dalquongale. On the death of the abbot he was elected in his place, but after a period withdrew to a church that he built in Glenesk in order to live the heremitical life. Here he gave sight to a blind priest, Symeon. Later, he accompanied St. Columba on a missionary journey to Aberdour in Buchan, Scotland, where the local ruler, Bede the Pict, gave them Aberdour and the site of the Abbey of Deer, twelve miles inland. Soon St. Columba left, leaving the leadership of the monastery to his nephew.

According to another source, however, the saint lived at the beginning of the sixth century, and was the son of the ruler of Demetia in South Wales and uncle of Aidan, whom St. Columba ordained as first king of the Scots of Western Scotland. According to Oengus the Culdee (early ninth century), Drostan with three disciples – Colm (or Colman), Medan and Fergus - "came off the sea at Aberdour" in northern Aberdeenshire and, after a time, went inland and founded his monastery at Deer with the blessing of the local ruler, Bede Cruithnech. Bede had at first been hostile to Drostán's settlement but came to accept his presence it time. From Deer Christianity became firmly established among the Picts of the north-east of Scotland.

St. Drostan is commemorated on July 11 or December 15.

(Sources: The Aberdeen Breviary; The Book of Deer;

http://www.cushnieent.force9.co.uk/CelticEra/Saints/saints_drostan.htm; http://www.cushnieent.force9.co.uk/NewDeerBook/index.htm)

HIEROMARTYR ANDRONICUS, ARCHBISHOP OF PERM
and those with him (+ 1918)


By Vladimir Moss


Archbishop Andronicus, in the world Vladimir Nikolsky, was born on August 1, 1870. He was the son of a deacon of the church the village of Povodnevo, Myshkin uyezd, Yaroslavl diocese. In 1885 he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl theological school. In 1891 he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl seminary and entered the Moscow Theological Academy. On August 1, 1893, with the blessing of St. John of Kronstadt, he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Andronicus, and was ordained to the diaconate on August 6. In 1895 he graduated from the Academy, and was awarded the degree of candidate of theology for his work "The Early Church's Teaching on the Eucharist as a Sacrifice in connection with the Question of Redemption". On July 22, 1895 he was ordained to the priesthood.

Fr. Andronicus began his pastoral service in the Caucasus, being assistant inspector of the Kutaisi theological seminary from 1895 to 1896. From 1896 to 1897 he was a teacher of homiletics and inspector of the Alexandrovsky missionary seminary in Ardon, Ossetia. In 1897 he was appointed a member of the Russian Orthodox mission in Japan. This appointment, in his own words, "made me so sorrowful that I wept and would have been very glad if it had not happened... It was sad to part... But this led me to the thought that one should not live as one wants, but as God commands..."

Hieromonk Andronicus described his journey to Japan in his book, A Missionary Journey to Japan (Kazan, 1899). On September 21, 1897 he left St. Petersburg, and on October 26 he left Odessa with Archimandrite Sergius (Stragorodsky) and arrived in Japan on December 26 after stopping in Greece, Italy, France, England and the U.S.A. In 1899 he was released from service in Japan.

On March 5, 1899, at the request of Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Fr. Andronicus was appointed rector of the Alexandrovsky missionary seminary in Ufa with the rank of archimandrite. He stepped down from this post on January 13, 1900, and on October 18 was appointed rector of the Ufa theological seminary. In 1901 he was awarded the order of St. Anna, second class, and in 1905 - the order of St. Vladimir, fourth class.

In 1905, after the publication of the Tsar's manifesto on civil liberties, Archimandrite Andronicus appealed to the population of the province to return to peaceful work. Later, he would say the following about the events in Russia: "It is a question... of a struggle between faith and faithlessness, between Christianity and Antichristianity... Masonry… will openly drive out Christianity… and pour into one man of iniquity, the son of perdition, the Antichrist. This is the clue to our most recent liberties: their aim is the destruction of Christianity in Rus'."

"It is necessary to work in such a way as to organize the whole people into one family, firmly and consciously standing for the holy, historical heritage of the people - the Christian Faith and the autocratic Tsar. It is necessary obstinately and assiduously to steer clear of all parties, and to preserve the people precisely as a people, foreign to all party spirit, for wherever there is party spirit, there is division, there is struggle, there order is not to be looked for, and the whole is bound to disintegrate. And for that reason, when they say that amongst the parties there is a Russian party, this is either a lie or a misunderstanding. No, it is the Russian people itself, plucking up courage, consciously looking round on all sides and deciding firmly to stand for its treasure and not give in to the cunning schemes of its enemies...

"Stand aside from all flattering parties, who want to rob you of your most holy feelings; know God and His autocratic Tsar, so that through your striving and unanimity he may truly be an autocrat, so that he may be the source of righteousness on earth. Remember that all these parties that have appeared do not have your good in mind, but are aiming only to rule over you: the Cadets will be in the majority in the Duma, as they were in the previous Duma - and they will rule by force over everyone; there will be Socialists and other leftists - and they will do the same; no one will be able to restrain them until some other party wins a majority. But the main thing is that all these parties are trying to destroy the Faith in your land - that Faith by which you have been living for a thousand years now; and at the same time they are trying to separate you from your Tsar. And then they will completely get rid of him - that Tsar whom you have placed over you before God, and who rules you according to conscience..."

On November 5, 1906, Archimandrite Andronicus was consecrated Bishop of Kyoto and appointed assistant to the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Japan, St. Nicholas of Japan.

On March 28, 1907 he was greeted by the Orthodox flock in Tokyo. On May 27, he petitioned to be released from service in Japan because of illness, which was granted on July 5. On October 26, 1907, he became the deputy of Bishop Eulogius of Kholm and took temporary control of the diocese, appearing in a session of the State Duma in Kholm. On March 14, 1908 he was made Bishop of Tikhvin, a vicariate of the Novgorod diocese.

A contemporary remembered: "Already at first sight his thin figure, assiduous prayer and cordial words made a most pleasant impression... Vladyka mixed his zealous, tireless service with heartfelt sermons, his lofty position - with simple, close relations with the Orthodox worshippers. Fear of society's displeasure did not embarrass the bishop-preacher. In his sermons Vladyka often reproved the frenzy of worldly spectacles with great boldness."

Bishop Andronicus continued to be a firm supporter of the Orthodox Tsar: "While among the other peoples of Europe the power of the princes and kings conquered the peoples and in relation to them was the enslaver of the disobedient, but weak [people] - we, on the other hand, ourselves created our own power and placed the princes - the prototypes of our tsars - over ourselves. Thus was it at the recognition of Ryurik and his brothers, whom our forefathers here, near Ilmen lake, placed over themselves to rule at a time when we had only just begun to be conscious of ourselves as a people, when our statehood was founded. With the acceptance of Christianity this power entrusted by the people to the princes received a Divine sanctification from on high: the princes became the anointed of God, receiving high authority over the people from God, so as to rule the people under God. Moreover, as Great Russia grew and became stronger, the power of the princes, who were later called Autocratic Tsars, became higher, being bound to answer for the power that was given them over the people before God and their conscience. Then, when by the permission of God we had no Tsar in Rus', having survived the terrible years under various kinds of administrations, and not finding in any of them salvation from the destruction that threatened, we quickly and unanimously (with the exception of a few power-seekers and intriguers) restored our tried and tested form of power over the kingdom: having elected Michael Fyodorovich to the kingdom, we entrusted the whole Tsarist Autocracy over ourselves to him before God and in the name of God the Omniscient. And we were not mistaken in our wise reasoning this time: our half-destroyed and exhausted kingdom quickly gathered strength and was regenerated and strengthened in all respects, even attaining incomparably greater glory and prosperity than in the times prior to the time of troubles. We came out onto our historical road.

"In what was this autocratic power of the Tsar strong? In that fact that it was based on the conscience and on the Law of God, and was supported by its closeness to the land, by the council of the people. The princely entourage, the boyars’ Duma, the Zemsky Sobor - that is what preserved the power of the Tsars in its fullness, not allowing anyone to seize or divert it. The people of proven experience and honesty came from the regions filled with an identical care for the construction of the Russian land. They raised to the Tsar the voice and counsel of the people concerning how and what to build in the country. And it remained for the Tsar to learn from all the voices, to bring everything together for the benefit of all and to command the rigorous fulfilment for the common good of the people of that for which he would answer before the Omniscient God and his own conscience. When applied to the present situation, this was our original Russian constitution worked out by the people itself, but as different from the constitutions from beyond the seas, about which our Red Hundreds of various shades rave, as heaven is from earth. This, our constitution, our Tsarist Autocracy rests not on faithfulness to the Tsar of a chance party majority, which sometimes changes in accordance with various, sometimes purely fortuitous or artificially created conditions, but on faithfulness to the Divine, eternal Law that is supreme both for the Tsar and the people, and to its echo - the law of the conscience, which dies only with the death of its bearer, man."

On the national question Vladyka wrote: "We [the Russians] have not violated and do not violate any of the peoples which are subject to us; we give to all, as before, freedom in all affairs of life on the basis of a common law that is equal for everyone, as also freedom of confession of his native faith for everyone. But we are the masters of the country and we wish to be such in fact, and therefore nobody must dare to mock us, or acquire power over us, or encroach on our higher rights. Still less shall we allow the dignity of our spiritual wealth and most important heritage - the Orthodox Faith and the Autocratic Tsar - to be mocked... In past times the Georgians themselves asked to be received into submission to Russia; for they saw that otherwise they would perish in intestinal warfare in the Caucasus or would be seized by their neighbours, the Turks or the Persians. And let the other nationalities of our great Kingdom remember that if they separate from Russia they will perish, being seized by their very strong neighbours, who are just waiting for this. And what kind of power these neighbours have let the Poles sincerely describe, remembering their brethren in Germany. A special word concerning the Jews: we did not accept them in our land and did not even conquer them. We cannot and will not give them equal rights, in accordance with the prophetic word of warning of the great writer of the Russian land, F.M. Dostoyevsky: 'The Jews will destroy Russia.' They do not want to use our tolerating them in our midst - so let them go wherever they want: we will not detain them at the gates; and we can live freely and prosperously without them. But if they remain among us, they will be as foreigners for us, not having the right to participate in the building of the people and the state."

On March 8, 1913 Vladyka Andronicus received the independent see of Omsk; and his ascent up the Urals Golgotha began on July 30, 1914 with his appointment as Bishop of Perm and Solikamsk (renamed Perm and Kungur on July 1, 1916). That summer Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna made a pilgrimage to the relics of St. Symeon of Verkhoturye in his diocese. On July 19, 1914, the feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov, World War I began.

In August Perm heard the voice of Bishop Andronicus: "Amidst today's terrible events the Lord has decreed that I should occupy the see of the enlightener of Perm, St. Stephen. There, in the west, blood-red clouds have already gathered… Yes, this war is terrible, it will demand much blood, many victims. But truly it is allowed by the Providence of God...

"This is a great mercy of God after all the heavy trials and humiliations which our Homeland has undergone in recent times. And it is all our fault, because we have willingly given our souls into captivity to every kind of foreign import, as if we even rejoiced to become complete Europeans and were leaving behind our so-called Russian backwardness. Now we see from bitter experience that this foreign forwardness is in fact complete barbarism, moral bankruptcy and spiritual perversion."

Vladyka Andronicus set about building up the huge region with its one and a half million inhabitants and 570 churches and monasteries with apostolic zeal.

In November, 1914 he made his first visit to the Belogorsky monastery, to the cave church and to the Seraphimo-Alexeyevsky skete near the monastery. The skete was the cherished dream of some young Christian souls. It published some profound booklets on the monastic life, and the patriotic publication The Voice of Duty. The skete superior, Igumen Seraphim, published a unique chronicle of the 300th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs.

The bishop applied himself zealously to missionary work, to concerts of church music, to spiritual discussions and to patriotic exhortations to serve the Fatherland. He paid particular attention to the monasteries. In the summer of 1915 he again visited the Belogorsk monastery. He went far beyond Kungur to consecrate a place for the Shamarsky missionary monastery, which was founded in memory of the visit to the province of Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna. In June he made a pilgrimage to the Tabor hermitage. There thousands of worshippers had assembled from Perm.

"And so, beloved," said Vladyka to his flock, "do not complain about sorrows as if they were a terrible misfortune. They wash away our sins, while giving extra holiness to virtue. It is not sorrows that are terrible, but carelessness, which destroys the man even while he remains at rest."

In 1916 he travelled to army headquarters and on August 12 had a conversation with the Tsar in which he warned him about Rasputin - to no effect. The Tsar very much liked the gift that Vladyka brought him - a pair of soldier's boots. (The province of Perm provided the army with boots.)

On March 3, 1917, the day after the Tsar's abdication, Vladyka Andronicus invited the leading citizens of the city to a meeting in the bishop's residence. Vladyka read out a draft “To All Russian Orthodox Christians”, in which he called the present situation an “interregnum”. Calling on all to obey the Provisional Government, he said: “We shall beseech the All-Generous One that He Himself establish authority and peace on our land, that He not abandon us for long without a Tsar, as children without a mother. May He help us, as three hundred years ago He helped our ancestors, that we may unanimously and with inspiration receive a native Tsar from His All-Good Providence.”

The new over-procurator wrote to Andronicus demanding an explanation for his actions in support of the old regime and “aimed at the setting up of the clergy against the new order”. The correspondence between them culminated on April 16 with a detailed letter from Archbishop Andronicus, in which he said:

“The act on the refusal of Michael Alexandrovich which legitimises the Provisional Government declared that after the Constituent Assembly we could have a monarchical government, or any other, depending on how the Constituent Assembly will pronounce on this. I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I will also submit to a republic if it will be established by the Constituent Assembly. But until then not one citizen is deprived of the freedom of expressing himself on the form of government for Russia; otherwise a Constituent Assembly would be superfluous if someone could irrevocably predetermine the question on the form of government in Russia. As I have already said many times, I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I submit now and I call on all to submit. I am perplexed on what basis you find it necessary to accuse men ‘of inciting the people not only against the Provisional Government, but also against the spiritual authorities generally”.

Later in 1917 Vladyka became one of the seven hierarchs in the preconciliar council of the Local Council of the Russian Church in Moscow. From August 15/28, 1917, until the end of the second session on April 7/20, 1918, Vladyka Andronicus took an active part in the Council, being deputy president of the section on the Old Ritualists and Yedinovery, deputy president of the publishing section and president of the section on the legal and property qualifications of the clergy. He was called “Burning Fire” at the Council. After the Bolsheviks seized the printing presses, Vladyka Andronicus did everything possible to see that the documents of the Council and its epistles should be published.

On December 13/26, 1917, he returned to Perm and made an appeal to his flock to stand firm in defence of the Church. On January 28 / February 8, 1918 the Bolsheviks of Perm published the decree on freedom of conscience and the separation of the Church from the State. Thus the lawless robbing of Church property which had taken place in 1917 was replaced by the "lawful" confiscation of the Church's possessions. On January 25 Vladyka Andronicus made a written appeal to the Orthodox people in all the churches and monasteries of the diocese to defend the heritage of the Church from the aggressors and looters.

In February the blood of unarmed defenders of the Faith flowed in Perm. Under the cover of machine-guns the Bolsheviks looted the podvorye of the Belogorsk monastery, killing many. On February 19 Bishop Andronicus wrote: "May the Lord give rest to, and forgive the sins, voluntary and involuntary, of all the Orthodox monks and laypeople killed in the city of Perm for the Holy Faith and Church in the Belogorsky podvorye. May the Lord bless the zeal of all those who at that time stood firmly for the holy things of the Church, fearing only God, and not the enemy terrors. May all Orthodox Christians be encouraged to stand [zealously] for the Holy Church, so as not to allow the enemy of our salvation [to desecrate] our holy heritage. [All] those who rise up against the Holy Church and mock her and her servants I curse in the name of God... If they do not repent, then I reject them, as enemies of the Church, from Holy Communion and from the hope of eternal salvation. And if any of them secretly or by deceiving the priest receives Communion, then that Communion will be for him with Judas Iscariot for eternal condemnation. This is to be proclaimed in all the churches of the city of Perm and Motovilikhi."

At the end of the second session of the Council, on April 11/24, Vladyka arrived in Perm. On April 16, Holy Thursday, a search was carried out in Vladyka's residence and chancellery by the Cheka. While expecting arrest at any moment, Vladyka was remarkably calm. He confessed and received the Holy Mysteries every day, and his radiant mood never left him.

On April 22 / May 5, he was raised to the rank of archbishop by Patriarch Tikhon. On April 26 / May 9, there was a cross procession in Perm in honour of St. Stephen of Perm, during which the archbishop first read the epistle of the Moscow Council on the subject of the Bolsheviks' decree on the separation of Church and State and then instructed the archdeacon to anathematize "all those who encroach on the temple of the Lord, until they correct themselves."

On April 27, the Friday of Bright Week, Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich Romanov, the brother of the Tsar, was in the old Peter and Paul cathedral in Perm. He noted in his diary: "Archbishop Andronicus served the Paschal Vespers; he served very well." In the night from the 30th to the 31st of May the great prince was seized by the authorities and disappeared.

On April 28, there was a search in the consistory and certain documents were taken. On the same day Vladyka wrote to Patriarch Tikhon: "I am for the time being in freedom, but I shall probably be arrested soon... In the event of my arrest I am leaving instructions concerning the closing of all the churches of the city of Perm. Let them reckon with the people itself."

The Bolsheviks accused Vladyka of calling on the people to armed resistance to Soviet power. He replied: “My faith and the laws of the Church order me to stand on guard for the faith and the Church of Christ and her dignity. If I do not do this, I shall cease to be not only a bishop, but also a Christian. Therefore you can hang me now, but I will not give you a penny of the Church, you can take it over my dead body, but while alive I will give you nothing that belongs to the Church. That is what I believe and how I act, and I call on the Orthodox people to stand for the faith even unto death.”

Those close to him urged him to hide, fearing his arrest, but he said that he was ready to accept death for Christ, but would not abandon his flock. While he awaited arrest, he was calm and received communion every day. On May 9 there took place a great cross process headed by the archbishop. This was a true Triumph of Orthodoxy. Turning to the concealed agents of the Bolsheviks in the crowd, he said: “Go and tell your chiefs that if they can come to the doors of the churches and vestries only over my dead body, and with me they will not get a church farthing.”

The Bolsheviks increased their pressure on the archbishop throughout May. On June 1 he gave a written order to his vicar, Bishop Theophanes, to enter upon the administration of the diocese in the event of his violent death. Just before Vladyka Andronicus’ arrest the chekists arrested the president of the “Union of the Russian People” in Perm and shot him in the wood.

Shortly before his arrest, a priest tried to dissuade Vladyka from his martyric course: “How can you save the flock from the wolves who are destroying it and yourself not fall into despondency from the brutality in the people and the coming defilement of the holy things?” Vladyka replied: “Believe me, Father, all this atheism and robbery is an assault of the enemy, a foul abuse of the good and God-fearing Russian soul. For the time being, because of their violation of their oath [to the tsar], God has removed the people’s reason and will, until they repent… But when they do repent, at first gradually, then they will completely their spiritual sight, will feel their strength and like Ilya Muromets will cast off this horror which has enshrouded the whole of our country… Perhaps I will not longer be in this world, but I will never abandon the hope and certainty that Russia will be resurrected and will return to God.”

1,500 Red Army soldiers were summoned by the Bolsheviks for the arrest of Vladyka Andronicus. At three o'clock in the morning on June 4/17 he was arrested and put into a droshky taking him to the police in Motovilikhi. All those in the hierarchical house were also arrested.

On the next day, June 5/18, he was taken to the Perm Cheka, where he spent the night. In reply the superiors of all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi carried out the order of their archpastor: "I am closing down for Divine services all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi, and I forbid the carrying out of any Divine services except baptism and the last rites for the dying." From the night of Vladyka's arrest the Perm clergy went on strike. The city was in turmoil. Orthodox Christians gathered on the streets, demanding the release of Archbishop Andronicus and cursing the Bolsheviks.

Meetings organized by the Bolsheviks blamed the clergy for everything, and the Bolshevik press claimed that Vladyka had called on the worshippers to shoot the Bolsheviks, and that he was only trying to save his own skin.

Vladyka had been arrested by an armed detachment of Bolsheviks under the leadership of the former convict Myasnikov, who surrounded the home of the archpastor. "On the third night [June 6 to 7]," recalled Myasnikov, "we went for five versts along the Siberian highway, turned left into the forest, went on for about a hundred metres and stopped the horses. I gave Andronicus a spade and ordered him to dig a grave. Andronicus dug out as much as was required - we helped him. Then I said: 'Go on, lie down.' The grave turned out to be short, he dug out a bit more at his feet and lay down a second time. It was still too short, he dug some more - the grave was ready. I allowed him to pray. Andronicus prayed in all directions for about ten minutes. Then he said he was ready. I said that I would not shoot him, but bury him alive unless he repealed his decrees, but he said that he would not do this and would not refrain from attacking the Bolsheviks. Then we covered him with earth and I shot a few times."

Myasnikov's account more or less accords with the testimony of two Perm chekists Dobelas and Padernis, both of them Latvians, and was corroborated by a baptized Jew, a former communist party member who became a priest and was shot by the Bolsheviks. According to them, Vladyka Andronicus was buried alive and shot near the road from Perm to Motoviliha (the workmen's suburbs) on June 7/20. According to another account, he had his cheeks hollowed, his ears and nose cut off, and his eyes gouged out, and was then thrown into the river to drown.

One of the archbishop's executioners, Lashevich, was once dying in a hospital in Harbin, China. As he turned restlessly on his bed, he was heard shouting: "Why are you standing here, Andronicus, what do you want? I didn't bury you, I was ordered to do it. You've come for me, don't oppress me. You know, I'm not guilty." And again he would say: "Andronicus, blood, Perm... Don't. Go away! Don't torment me!"

Shortly before his death, on May 5, 1918, Archbishop Andronicus said: "Perhaps I will no longer be in this world, but I am not deprived of the hope and certainty that Russia will be resurrected and return to God. Exhort everyone and reconcile the embittered with life, pour into them the principles of the radiant life according to the Gospel of Christ. Our work is to gather the flock of Christ... so that those who have become disillusioned with every kind of party here might find a living haven and good repose in the Church and amidst believers. The soul of the people will be resurrected - and its body, our healthy statehood, will also be resurrected. May the Lord help us. Forgive and pray for the sinful Archbishop Andronicus who invokes the blessing of God upon you..."

Among the archbishop’s papers after his death was found the following plan for a speech:

“1. My speech will be short: I rejoice to be condemned for Christ and the Church. You are worth a lot, but my life is – spittle.

“2. Counter-revolution! Politics is not my affair. For perishing Russia will (not) be saved through our mutual backbiting out of desperation.

“3. But my treasure is the Church. Calling on everyone everywhere, I excommunicate and anathematise those who rise up against Christ and encroach on the Church…”

(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 839, 965, 995; L. Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, p. 243; V. Korolev, "'Eti Partii Starayutsa Izvyesti Vyeru v Zemlye Tvoyej...'", Radonezh, NN 13-14 (31), July, 1996, p. 3; "'... Da Ukrotit Gospod' Yarost' Ikh na Nas'" and "'Tserkov'... ob'yavlena nyelegal'noj'", Grebnevsky Listok, 11, 1996, pp. 1, 13-14; "Andronik- Pobyeditel' Muzhej", Pravoslavnaya Moskva, 13 (73), May, 1996, p. 7; Lyubovyu Pobezhdaya Strakh, Fryazino, 1998; Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, vol. I (1949), chapter 5, vol. II (1957), p. 283; The New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972, pp. 31-32; Russkiye Pravoslavniye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986; Metropolitan Manuel, Die Russischen Orthodoxen Bischofe von 1893-1965, Erlangen, 1989, volume 6; Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, London: Fontana Press, 1995, p. 355; Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 29; Hieromonk Damascene (Orlovsky), Mucheniki, Ispovedniki i Podvizhniki Blagochestiya XX Stoletiya, Tver: Bulat, volume 2, 1996, pp. 82-112; Archbishop Andronicus, O Tserkvi Rossii, Fryazino, 1997, pp. 132-133, 136, 137; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon’s Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 87-88; M.A. Babkin, “Sviatejshij Sinod Pravoslavnoj Rossijskoj Tserkvi i Revoliutsionnie Sobytia Fevralia-Marta 1917 g.”, http://www.monarhist-spb.narod.ru/D-ST/Babkin-1, p. 8;

http://www.pstbi.ru/bin/code.exe/frames/m/ind_oem.html?/ans)

Τρίτη, 20 Ιουλίου 2010

ΣΑΡΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΑΙΜΑ ΣΤΗ ΘΕΙΑ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΙΑ
Οἱ ἐπιστημονικές ἀναλύσεις ἀπέδειξαν, ὅτι ἡ μέν Σάρκα προέρχεται ἀπό καρδιακό ἰστό!, ἡ δέ ὁμάδα τοῦ Αἵματος εἶναι ἴδια μέ ἐκείνη τῆς Σινδόνης τοῦ Τορῖνο!



Τό κείμενο πού ἀκολουθεῖ ἀνῆκει στόν Patricio Caini καί δημοσιεύθηκε στό Περιοδικό “Archeomisteri” (φ. 15, Μαϊου - Ἰουνίου 2004). Ἀναρτήθηκε στόν Διαδυκτιακό τόπο «Πνευματικά Θησαυρίσματα» (dosambr.wordpress.com). Στή συνέχεια καταχωρεῖται μέ τήν φιλόφρονα ἄδεια τοῦ ὑπευθύνου π. Δημητρίου, βελτιωμένο ὡς πρός τήν μετάφραση. Ἀντί τοῦ τεχνικοῦ ὅρου "λείψανα" - ὁ ὁποῖος παραπέμπει τούς Ὀρθοδόξους σέ ὀστά Ἁγίων, ἀλλά τούς Παπικούς ἐκτός τῶν ὀστῶν καί σέ ἀντικείμενα - προτιμήσαμε καί χρησιμοποιοῦμε τόν ὅρο "κειμήλια".
Πρόκειται γιά μία θεόθεν μαρτυρία καί ἐπιβεβαίωση τοῦ καθημερινοῦ θαύματος τῆς Μετουσιώσεως τῶν Τιμίων Δώρων σέ Σῶμα καί Αἷμα Χριστοῦ, πού παραχωρεῖται ἀπό τόν Θεό σέ κάθε Θεία Λειτουργία πού τελεῖται ἐντός τῆς Μιᾶς, Ἁγίας, Καθολικῆς καί Ἀποστολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τῆς Ὁποίας τμῆμα ἦταν τόν 8ο αἰ. καί μέχρι τό Σχίσμα τοῦ 1054 ἡ ἔπειτα Παπική – Ρωμαιοκαθολική «Ἐκκλησία». Ἕνα θαῦμα τό ὁποῖο ἔτυχε καί τῆς συγχρόνου ἐπιστημονικῆς ἐπιβεβαιώσεως (ὄχι ἀπαραιτήτως ἀναγκαίας γιά τούς πιστούς, πιθανῶς ὑποβοηθητικῆς γιά τούς ἀπίστους).


Καθηγητής Ἀντ. Μάρκου


Ἱστορικό τοῦ θαύματος
Ἀπό ὅλα τά θαύματα τῆς Θείας Εὐχαριστίας, αὐτό τοῦ Lanciano (πού συνέβη τόν 8ο αἰ. μ. Χ.), εἶναι πιθανῶς τό πιό ἀρχαῖο καί ἀποδεδειγμένο. Ὁπωσδήποτε εἶναι μοναδικό στό εἶδος του καί ἀνεπιφύλακτα ἐπικυρωμένο ἀπό τήν διεθνή ἐπιστημονική κοινότητα, μετά ἀπό σειρά ἐργαστηριακῶν ἀναλύσεων αὐστηρῆς ἀκριβείας.
Τό θαῦμα συνέβη στή μικρή ἐκκλησία τῶν ἁγίων Legonziano καί Domiziano, τῆς κωμοπόλεως Lanciano τοῦ Ambruzzo τῆς Ἰταλίας, πού βρίσκεται νότια τοῦ Chieti καί εἶχε σάν πρωταγωνιστή ἕναν Βασιλειανό Ἱερομόναχο. (Σύμφωνα μέ μία λαϊκή θρησκευτική παράδοση, ὁ ἅγ. Negoziano ταυτίζεται μέ τόν ἅγ. Λογγῖνο τόν Ἑκατόνταρχο. Βλ. Patrizio Caini, “La lancia di Longino – Tra storia e leggenda”, Περιοδικό «Archomisteri», φ. 2, Μαρτίου - Ἀπριλίου 2000, σελ. 54 – 59). Ἐνῶ ὁ ἴδιος τελοῦσε τήν Θεία Λειτουργία κατά τό Λατινικό Τυπικό, μετά τόν καθαγιασμό τῶν Τιμίων Δώρων, εἶχε ἀμφιβολίες σχετικά μέ τήν μετουσιώσή τους σέ Σῶμα καί Αἷμα Χριστοῦ. Τότε, ἐντελῶς ξαφνικά, μπροστά στά μάτια τοῦ ἔκθαμβου Ἱερομονάχου καί ὅλης τῆς συνάξεως τῶν πιστῶν, ὁ Ἄρτος καί ὁ Οἶνος μεταβλήθηκαν σέ σάρκα καί αἷμα!!! Τό τελευταῖα μέσα σέ σύντομο χρόνο ἀκολούθησε μία διαδικασία πήξεως καί κατέλειξε σέ πέντε μικρούς θρόμβους διαφόρων μεγεθῶν, μέ χαρακτηριστική καστανοκίτρινη χροιά, διακοπτόμενη μόνο ἀπό μερικές ὑπόλευκες στίξεις.
Γιά τό ἀσυνήθιστο αὐτό γεγονός συντάχθηκε μία ἐπιμελημένη ἔκθεση σέ περγαμηνή, ἡ ὁποία μέχρι τό πρῶτο μισό τοῦ 14ου αἰ. ἦταν στήν κατοχή τῶν Φραγκισκανῶν Μοναχῶν, ἀλλά στή συνέχεια ἐκλάπη ἀπό δύο Βασιλειανούς Μοναχούς. Μέχρι τίς μέρες μας ἔχουν διασωθεῖ ἔγγραφα τοῦ 16ου καί 17ου αἰ. τά ὁποῖα πιστοποιοῦν τό θαυμαστό αὐτό γεγονός.
Τέσσερεις αἰώνες μετά τό συμβάν, τόν 12ο αἰ., οἱ Βασιλειανοί Μοναχοί πού μέχρι τότε τελοῦσαν τίς ἀκολουθίες τους στό Ναό τοῦ ἁγ. Legoziano, ἐγκατέλειψαν τό Lanciano καί ἡ διαχείρηση τοῦ Ναοῦ ἀνατέθηκε στούς Βενεδικτίνους καί ἔπειτα, τό 1253, στούς Φραγκισκανούς, οἱ ὁποῖοι τό 1258 ἀνοικοδόμησαν ναό ἀφιερωμένο στόν ἅγ. Φραγκίσκο τῆς Ἀσσίζης. Οἱ Φραγκισκανοί ἐγκατέλειψαν τό Lanciano τό 1809 - ὅταν ὁ Ναπολέων Βοναπάρτης κατάργησε ὅλα τά θρησκευτικά τάγματα - καί ἐπέστρεψαν τό 1953.
Τά Τίμια Δῶρα τῆς Θείας Εὐχαριστίας στά ὁποῖα οἰκονομήθηκε τό θαῦμα, ἀρχικά τοποθετήθηκαν σέ μία λειψανοθήκη ἀπό ἐλεφαντόδοντο καί διαφυλάχθηκαν στήν ἐκκλησία τοῦ ἁγ. Legogiano. Κατόπιν μεταφέρθηκαν στήν ἐκκλησία τοῦ ἁγ. Φραγκίσκου.
Τήν 1η Αὐγούστου 1556 ὁ Μοναχός Giovanni Antonio di Μastro Renzo, φοβούμενος ὅτι οἱ Ὀθωμανοί πειρατές θά μποροῦσαν νά κλέψουν ἤ τό χειρότερο νά καταστρέψουν τά Τίμια Δῶρα κατά τήν διάρκεια μιᾶς τῶν ἐπιδρομῶν τους, ἀποφάσισε νά μεταφέρει τά πολύτιμα κειμήλια σέ ἕνα περισσότερο σίγουρο μέρος. Ἐν τούτοις, ἀφοῦ περπάτησε ὅλη τήν νύκτα, ξαναβρέθηκε τό ἑπόμενο πρωϊ μπροστά στίς πύλες τοῦ Lanciano, σάν κάποια ἀόρατη δύναμη νά ἤθελε νά τοῦ ἀπογορεύσει νά ἀπομακρύνει τά κειμήλια ἀπό τήν πόλη! Ἔτσι ὁ μοναχός καί οἱ σύντροφοί του κατάλαβαν, ὅτι ἔπρεπε νά μείνουν στό Lanciano καί νά προστατεύσουν τά κειμήλια. Γ’ αὐτό καί τά τοποθέτησαν στό ἐσωτερικό μιᾶς κρυστάλλινης λειψανοθήκης, ἡ ὁποία μέ τήν σειρά της τοποθετήθηκε σέ ἕνα ξύλινο ἐρμάριο, ἀσφαλισμένο μέ τέσσερεις κλειδαριές.
Τό 1920, τά κειμήλια μεταφέρθηκαν στό νέο Ναό καί τό 1923 ἡ μέν Σάρκα διαφυλάχθηκε σέ ἕνα Ἀρτοφόρειο ἀπό κρύσταλλο, οἱ δέ πέντε θρόμβοι τοῦ Αἵματος σέ ἕνα Ποτήριο, ἐπίσης ἀπό κρύσταλλο. Καί τά δύο τοποθετήθηκαν σέ μία ἀσημένια λειψανοθήκη, μεταξύ δύο προσευχομένων Ἀγγέλων (ἡ λειψανοθήκη κατασκευάστηκε τό 1713, μέ ὕψος 63 καί πλάτος 44 ἑκατοστά.
Τά κειμήλια ἐξετάστηκαν συνοπτικά τό 1574, τό 1637, τό 1770 καί τό 1886. Κατά τήν ἐξέταση τοῦ 1574 (τήν 17η Φεβρουαρίου), ὁ Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Rodriguez εἶχε προσδιορίσει, ὅτι τό συνολικό βάρος τῶν πέντε θρόμβων ἦταν ἴσο μέ τό βαρός ἑνός ἀπό αὐτούς, ἀλλά τό ἀνεξήγητο αὐτό φαινόμενο δέν πιστοποιήθηκε στίς ἑπόμενες ἐξετάσεις.
Κατά τήν πιό προσεκτική ἐξέταση τῆς 26ης Ὀκτωβρίου 1886, ἐξακριβώθηκε ὅτι τό συνολικό βάρος τῶν πέντε θρόμβων ἦταν 16, 505 γραμμάρια (κάθε ἕνας ἀπό τούς θρόμβους ζύγιζε 8, 2,45, 2,85, 2,05 καί 1,15 γραμμάρια, ἐνῶ 5 γραμμάρια ζύγιζε καί ἡ σκόνη αἵματος, χρώματος σκούρου καστανοῦ, πού ὑπῆρχε στόν πυθμένα τοῦ Ποτηρίου.
Ὑπάρχουν μερικά ἔγγραφα τά ὁποῖα πιστοποιοῦν, ὅτι τά κειμήλια αὐτά ἐκτίθεντο σέ προσκύνηση καί λιτανεύονταν ἀπό τόν 16ο αἰ.

Οἱ πρῶτες ἰατρικές - ἐπιστημονικές ἐξετάσεις (1953) - Ἡ Σάρκα καί τό Αἷμα ἦσαν ὀργανικῆς φύσεως!
Τό 1953, λίγο μετά τήν ἐπιστροφή τῶν Μικρῶν Μοναστηριακῶν Ἀδελφῶν στό Ναό τοῦ Lanciano, τέθηκε τό θέμα τῆς ἐπιστημονικῆς ἐξετάσεως τῶν κειμηλίων. Χάρις στήν ἄδεια πού δόθηκε ἀπό τόν Ἀρχιεπίσκοπο τοῦ Ambruzzo, Σεβ. Pacifico Perantoni καί τόν Ὑπεύθυνο τοῦ Τάγματος, ἡ μοναστηριακή κοινότητα τοῦ Lanciano ἀπευθύνθηκε σέ ἕναν εἰδικό παγκοσμίου φήμης, τόν Καθηγητή Ἀνατομίας, Παθολογικῆς Ἰστολογίας, Χημείας καί Μικροσκοπικῆς Κλινικῆς Odoardo Linoli, Διευθυντή τοῦ Ἐργαστηρίου Κλινικῶν Ἀναλύσεων καί Παθολογικῆς Ἀνατομίας τοῦ Νοσοκομείου «Santa Maria sopra i Ponti» τοῦ Arezzo. Τότε ἀπό τήν ἐξέταση τῶν κειμηλίων πιστοποιήθηκε, ὅτι αὐτά ἤσαν ὀργανικῆς φύσεως!

Οἱ δεύτερες ἰατρικές - ἐπιστημονικές ἐξατάσεις (1970) – Ἰστός ἀπό μυοκάρδιο καί ἀνθρώπινο αἷμα!
Τήν 18η Νοεμβρίου 1970, πταγματοποιήθηκε μία δεύτερη, πλέον συστηματική καί σύμφωνα μέ τίς νέες δυνατότητες ἐξέταση. Ὁ Καθηγητής Linoli, βοηθούμενος ἀπό τόν Καθηγητή Ruggero Bertelli τοῦ Πανρπιστημίου τῆς Σιέννας, πῆραν δείγματα περιορισμένων διαστάσεων ἀπό τήν Σάρκα, βάρους 20 μικρογραμμαρίων. Πρίν πάρουν δείγματα καί ἀπό τό Αἷμα, τούς ζητήθηκε νά ἐξετάσουν τό βάρος καθ’ ἑνός τῶν θρόμβων καί τό συνολικό τους βάρος. Κατά τήν ἐξέταση ἀποδείχθηκε, ὅτι τό συνολικό βάρος τῶν θρόμβων τοῦ αἵματος, μή συμπεριλαμβανομένης τῆς σκόνης, ἦταν 15,85 γραμμάρια.
Μετά τήν διαπίστωση αὐτή, ὁ Καθηγητής Linoli πῆρε ἀπό ἕναν θρόμβο αἵματος δείγματα συνολικοῦ βάρους 318 mg. Μετά τό πέρας τῆς ὅλης διαδικασίας λήψεως τῶν δειγμάτων, τά κειμήλια ἐπανατοποθετήθηκαν στό ἐσωτερικό τῆς λειψανοθήκης, ἡ ὁποία μέ τήν σειρά της τοποθετήθηκε στό Ἀρτοφόρειο. Τήν 4η Μαρτίου 1971 οἱ Καθηγητές Linoli καί Bertelli δημοσίευσαν τά ἀποτελέσματα τῶν ἀναλύσεών τους μέ μία ἀναλυτική ἔκθεση.



Σάρκα: Ἰστός ἀπό μυοκάρδιο!
Τά δύο δείγματα τῆς Σάρκας ἐνυδατώθηκαν καί κατόπιν, μέ τήν χρήση ἑνός μικροτόμου, ἔγιναν πολύ λεπτές τομές, οἱ ὁποίες χρωματίσθηκαν καί ὑποβλήθηκαν σέ ἰστολογική ἀνάλυση, μέ προσεκτική μικροσκοπική παρατήρηση. Ἀποδείχθηκε, ὅτι ὁ ἰστός ἀποτελοῦνταν ἀπό γραμμωτές μυϊκές ἴνες, ἑνωμένες στίς ἄκρες καί συγκεντρωμένες σέ δέσμες διαφορετικοῦ πάχους, ἑνωμένες στίς ἄκρες καί προσανατολισμένες σέ διάφορες κατευθύνσεις. Τό γεγονός, ὅτι οἱ ἴνες δέν ἦταν ἡ μία δίπλα στήν ἄλλη - ὅπως γιά παράδειγμα συμβαίνει στίς σκελετικές μυϊκές ἴνες, ἀπό τίς ἄκρες τῶν ὁποίων φεύγουν ταινιώδεις διακλαδώσεις – καθώς ἐπίσης καί ἀπό τήν παρουσία λοβίου λιπώδους ἰστοῦ, στόν ὁποῖο εἰσχωροῦν κανονικά οἱ γραμματωτές μυϊκές ἴνες, ὁδήγησε στό συμπέρασμα ὅτι ἡ Σάρκα προερχόταν ἀπό τόν γραμμωτό μυϊκό ἰστό τοῦ μυοκαρδίου!!! Οἱ ἀναλύσεις, δηλαδή, ἐπιβεβαίωσαν τήν λαϊκή θρησκευτική παράδοση πού θεωροῦσε τό συγκεκριμμένο μέρος τῆς Σάρκας, ὡς προερχόμενο ἀπό τήν καρδιά τοῦ Κυρίου!!!



Αἷμα: Μέ ὅλα τά χαρακτηριστικά τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου αἵματος!
Τά ληφθέντα δείγματα ἀπό τόν θρόμβο τοῦ Αἵματος ἀποδείχθηκε, ὅτι ἀποτελοῦνταν ἀπό ἕνα ἰνῶδες ὑλικό, στά πλέγματα τοῦ ὁποίου βρέθηκε μία κοκκώδης οὐσία κιτρινοπράσινου χρώματος πού προερχόταν ἀπό τήν αἱμοσφαιρίνη, μαζί μέ ἄλλα ἄγνωστα σωατίδια! Τά δείγματα αὐτά ὑποβλήθηκαν στό Τέστ τοῦ Teichmann (ὅπως αὐτό τροποποιήθηκε ἀπό τόν Bertrand), στό Τέστ τοῦ Takayama καί σ’ αὐτό τῶν Stone καί Burke, μέ σκοπό νά διερευνηθεῖ ἡ ἐνδεχόμενη παρουσία κρυστάλλων χλωρυδικῆς αἱματίνης, αἱμοχρωμογόνου καί αἱματικῶν ὀξειδασῶν. Κατά τήν ἐξέταση δέν βρέθηκε κάποιο ἴχνος τῶν προειρημένων κρυστάλλων καί τοῦ αἱμοχρωμογόνου, τά ὁποία ἀντίθετα βρίσκονται σέ ἀποξηραμένα δείγματα αἵματος φυσιολογικοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Παρά ταῦτα ἠ ἔλλειψη αὐτή δέν συνιστᾶ κάποια ἀνωμαλία, διότι τό αἷμα μπορεῖ νά χάσει τήν ἰδιότητα νά παράγει αὐτές τίς δύο οὐσίες, κάθε φορά πού ἐκτίθεται ἀπ’ εὐθείας στό ἡλιακό φῶς, σέ ὑψηλές θερμοκρασίες ἤ σέ ὀξειδωτικούς περιβαλλοντικούς παράγοντες.
Ἀντίθετα, ἡ θετικότητα τῶν δειγμάτων στά Τέστ τῶν Stone καί Burke, ἐπιβεβαίωσε τήν παρουσία τῶν ὀξειδωτικῶν χαρακτηριστικῶν αἱματικῆς φύσεως. Μέ σκοπό νά διαλυθοῦν οἱ πάσης φύσεως ὑποψίες (γιά τήν γνησιότητα ἤ μή τῶν δειγμάτων), ἐφαρμόστηκε καί μία χρωματογραφική ἀνάλυση, χάρη στήν ὁποία ἐξακριβώθηκε ἡ αἱμοσφαιρίνη. Ἔτσι ξεκαθαρίστηκε, ὅτι οἱ πέντε βρόμβοι ἀποτελοῦνταν ἀπό πηγμένο αἷμα!!!
Στή συνέχεια μέ τό Ἀνοσοϊστοχημικό Τέστ τῆς Ἀντίδρασης Καθίζησης Ζώνης ἤ Ἰζηματοποίησης τοῦ Uhlenhuth (τό ὁποῖο κατά κανόνα ἐφαρμόζεται στήν Ἰατροδικαστική καί στήν Ἀνοσολογία, μέ σκοπό τήν ἐξακρίβωση τοῦ εἴδους στό ὁποῖο ἀνῆκει ἕνας ἰστός), οἱ ἐρευνητές ἀπέδειξαν, ὅτι τό μέρος τοῦ μυοκαρδίου (Σάρκα) καί τό Αἷμα ἀνῆκαν στό ἀνθρώπινο εἶδος! Παράλληλα μέ τό Ἀνοσοαιματολογικό τέστ τῆς ὀνομαζόμενης ἀντίδρασης - ἀποφόφησης (διαχωρισμός μέ ἐκχύληση), καθορίστηκε ὅτι τόσο ὁ ἰστός, ὅσο καί τό αἷμα ἀνήκαν στήν ὁμάδα αἵματος ΑΒ, τήν ἴδια στήν ὁποία ἀνῆκει καί τό αἷμα πού βρέθηκε σέ σχηματισμούς, ὁρατούς στά ἴχνη τῆς πρόσθιας καί ὁπίσθιας ἐπιφάνειας τοῦ σώματος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῆς Σινδόνης τοῦ Τορῖνο!!!
Ἡ ὁμάδα αἵματος στήν ὁποία ἀνήκουν καί τά δύο δείγματα (Σάρκας καί Αἵματος), ἀποδεικνύει, ὅτι προέρχονται ἀπό τό ἴδιο ἄτομο ἤ ἀπό δύο διαφορετικά ἄτομα μέ τήν ἴδια ὁμάδα αἵματος.
Στά δείγματα τοῦ Αἵματος ἔγινε ἐπιπλέον μία ἡλεκτροφορική ἀνάλυση σέ ὀξείδιο κυτταρίνης, μέ σκοπό νά διερευνηθεῖ ἄν ὑπῆρχαν οἱ τυπικές πρωτεϊνες τοῦ ὁροῦ. Ἡ ἀνάλυση εἶχε θετική ἔκβαση καί τό διάγραμμα πού ἔδειξε ἡ ἡλεκτροφόρηση, ἦταν συγκρίσιμο μέ ἐκεῖνο πού προκύπτει ἀπό τό αἷμα κανονικοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
Οἱ ἐρευνητές, τελικά, κονιορτοποίησαν καί ἐνυδάτωσαν ξανά 100 mg δείγματος Αἵματος καί ἐξακρίβωσαν, ὅτι τά στοιχεῖα πού βρίσκονταν σ’ αὐτό (χλωριοῦχα, φωσφόρος, μαγνήσιο, κάλιο καί νάτριο), ἦταν σέ μικρότερη ποσότητα σέ σχέση μέ τό κανονικό, ἐνῶ τό ἀσβέστιο ὑπῆρχε σέ μεγαλύτερη. Αὐτή ἡ μείωση μπορεῖ νά συσχετιστεῖ, τόσο μέ τήν διαδικασία γήρανσης καί ἐλάττωσής τους (μετά τήν πάροδο τόσον αἰώνων), ὅσο καί μέ «ἀνταλλάγες» πού ἔγιναν μέ τά ἐσωτερικά τοιχώματα τοῦ κρυστάλλινου Ποτηρίου, στό ὁποῖο οἱ θρόμβοι εἶχαν διαφυλαχθεῖ. Ὁ ἐμπλουτισμός σέ ἀσβέστιο, ἀντιθέτως, πιθανότατα ὀφείλεται σέ ἐξωγενεῖς παράγοντες (σέ πτώση σκόνης μέσα στό Ποτήριο, πλούσιας σέ ἅλατα ἀσβεστίου, ἀποκολλημένης ἀπό τά τοιχώματα τοῦ οἰκοδομήματος).



Ἀποκλεισμός τῆς ταριχεύσεως - μουμιοποιήσεως
Ἀπό τήν φυσικοχημική καί ἰστολογική ἀνάλυση τῶν ληφθέντων δειγμάτων, δέν διαπιστώθηκε ἡ παρουσία ἁλάτων καί ἑνώσεων πού χρησιμοποιοῦνταν ἀπό τήν ἀρχαιότητα ὡς συντηρητικές οὐσίες στήν μέθοδο τῆς μουμιοποίησης. Ὅμως σέ κάθε περόπτωση, ἡ ἐντόπιση ἀκεραίων πρωτεϊνῶν στήν Σάρκα καί τό Αἷμα τοῦ Lanciano, μετά ἀπό δώδεκα αἰῶνες, δέν συνιστᾶ ἕνα ἐξαιρετικό γεγονός, ἀφοῦ ἀκέραιες δομικά πρωτεϊνες ἔχουν ἐντοπιστεῖ καί σέ Αἰγυπτιακές μούμιες πού ἀνάγονται 4.000 – 5.000 χρόνια πρίν τήν ἐποχή μας. Παρά τά προηγούμενα ὅμως εἶναι ἀπαραίτητο νά τονιστεῖ, ὅτι ὑπάρχουν ἀξιοσημείωτες διαφορές μεταξύ τῆς καταστάσεως συντηρήσεως ἑνός σώματος ἤ ἑνός ἀνατομικοῦ τμήματος πού ὑποβλήθηκε σέ ἐξειδικευμένη μεταχείρηση μουμιοποίησης καί τῶν κειμηλίων τοῦ Lanciano. Τά τελευταῖα, μολονότι ἦταν ἐκτεθειμένα τά τελευταῖα 1.200 χρόνια σέ ἰσχυρές θερμικές μεταβολές, στήν ὑγρασία καί κυρίως στίς προσβολές παρασίτων καί σαπροφύτων μικροοργανισμῶν, ἀνεξήγητα δέν ἀποσυντέθηκαν, κάτι πού εἶναι ἀκατανόητο, ὅπως ἐπίσης καί τό πῶς οἱ πρωτεϊνες ἀπό τίς ὁποίες ἀποτελοῦνται διατηρήθηκαν ἀκέραιες.
Μετά τό πέρας τῶν ἐργαστηριακῶν ἀναλύσεων ὁ Καθηγητής Linoli ἀπέκλεισε τήν πιθανότητα τά κειμήλια τοῦ Lanciano νά ἦταν μία ἀπάτη τοῦ Μεσαίωνα, διότι κάτι τέτοιο θά προϋπέθετε κάποιον μέ γνώσεις ἀνατομίας τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, πολύ περισσότερο προχωρημένες ἀπό αὐτές πού ὑπῆρχαν στούς γιατρούς τῆς ἐποχῆς ἐκείνης (8ος αἰ.), γνώσεις πού θά ἐπέτρεπαν τήν ἀφαίρεση τῆς καρδιᾶς ἀπό ἕνα πτῶμα καί τήν τομή της μέ τρόπο τέτοιο ὥστε νά ληφθεῖ ἕνα τμῆμα ὁμογενούς καί συνεχούς ἰστοῦ τοῦ μυοκαρδίου. Ἐπιπλέον, ὁποιαδήποτε στιγμή κι ἄν λαμβάνοταν τό αἷμα ἀπό ἕνα πτῶμα, μέ τήν πάροδο μικροῦ χρονικοῦ διαστήματος θά ὑφίστατο σοβαρή ἀλλοίωση ἀπό τήν ἀεροτηκτικότητα ἤ τήν σήψη.



Οἱ τρίτες ἰατρικές - ἐπιστημονικές ἐξετάσεις (1973)
Τά ἀποτελέσματα τῶν ἀναλύσεων στά ὁποῖα κατέλειξαν οἱ Καθηγητές Linoli καί Bertelli, δημοσιεύθηκαν σέ μία γραπτή ἀναφορά μέ τίτλο «Ἰστολογικές, ἀνοσολογικές καί βιολογικές ἔρευνες στό Σῶμα καί τό Αἷμα τοῦ θαύματος τῆς Θείας Εὐχαριστίας τοῦ Lanciano (8ος αἰ.)», προκαλῶντας μεγάλο ἐνδιαφέρον στή διεθνῆ ἐπιστημονική κοινότητα σέ τέτοιο σημεῖο, ὥστε νά προσελκύσουν τήν προσοχή τοῦ Ἀνωτέρου Συμβουλίου τῆς Παγκοσμίου Ὀργανώσεως Ὑγείας, τό ὁποῖο τό 1973 διόρισε μία ἐπιστημονική ἐπιτροπή μέ ἁρμοδιότητα τήν ἐπικύρωση (ἤ μή) τῶν ἀποτελεσμάτων τῶν ἀναλύσεων πού πραγματοποιήθηκαν ἀπό τούς Ἰταλούς ἐρευνητές καί τήν ἐπιβεβαίωση (ἤ ὄχι) τῶν συμπερασμάτων στά ὁποῖα εἶχαν καταλήξει.
Μετά ἀπό διάστημα 15 μηνῶν, κατά τό ὁποῖο ἔγιναν περισσότερες ἀπό 500 ἐξετάσεις, μεταξύ τῶν ὁποίων καί οἱ ἴδιες πού πραγματοποιήθηκαν ἀπό τούς Ἰταλούς ἐρευνητές, ἡ ἐπιτροπή τῆς Παγκόσμιας Ὀργανώσεως Ὑγείας ἐπιβεβαίωσε ἀνεπιφύλακτα ὅσα ἀνακοινώθηκαν καί δημοσιεύθηκαν ἀπό τούς τελευταίους. Τά μέλη τῆς ἐπιστημονικῆς ἐπιτροπῆς τῆς Π.Ο.Υ. ἀπέκλεισαν μέ σθένος τήν πιθανότητα ὁ μυοκαρδιακός ἰστός νά εἶχε μουμιοποιηθεῖ καί ἔκαναν γνωστό, ὅτι ἡ τέλεια συντήρηση ὀργανικῶν εὑρημάτων, τά ὁποῖα διατηρήθηκαν γιά 12 αἰῶνες μέσα γιά κρυστάλλινη λειψανοθήκη, χωρίς τήν παρουσία συντηριτικῶν οὐσιῶν (ἀντισηπτικῶν, ἀντιζημωτικῶν καί μουμιοποιητικῶν), ἀντιτίθεται σέ ὅλους τούς γνωστούς βιολογικούς νόμους. Ἡ ἐπιτροπή, ἐπιπλέον, τόνισε τό γεγονός, ὅτι τά κυτταρικά στοιχεῖα πού ἀποτελοῦν τό τμῆμα τοῦ ἰστοῦ τοῦ μυοκαρδίου, εἶχαν διατηρήσει ἀναλλοίωτη τήν δομική καί λειτουργική τους ἀκεραιότητα!

Οἱ τέταρτες ἰατρικές - ἐπιστημονικές ἐξετάσεις (1981)
Τό 1981 οἱ Ἐλάσσονες Μοναχοί τοῦ Lanciano ζήτησαν ἀπό τόν Καθηγητή Linoli νά κάνει μία δεύτερη ἐπιστημονική ἐξέταση στή Σάρκα, μέ σκοπό νά μελετηθεῖ σέ βάθος τόσο ἡ μακροσκοπική, ὅσο καί ἡ μικροσκοπική της κατασκευή. Στήν ἀναφορά του μέ τίτλο «Ἱστολογική καί ἀνατομική μελέτη τῆς καρδιᾶς τοῦ θάυματος τῆς Θείας Εὐχαριστίας τοῦ Lanciano (8ος αἰ.)», τήν ὁποία συνέταξε ὁ Καθηγητής Linoli στό τέλος τῆς ἔρευνας, ἀναφέρεται ὅτι τό κειμήλια ἔχει στρογγυλή μορφολογία, διάμετρο ἀπό 55 ἔως 66 χιλιοστά, χρῶμα κίτρινο – καφέ – καστανό καί ἕνα πλατύ ἄνοιγμα στό κέντρο, στό ὁποῖο εἶναι ὀρατές 14 μικρές ὀπές, πιθανότατα προερχόμενες ἀπό τά πολύ μικρά καρφιά πού χρησιμοποιήθηκαν γιά νά κρατηθεῖ τεντωμένο τό τεμάχιο.
Ἡ ἰστολογική έξέταση βρῆκε δύο λεπτούς κλάδους τοῦ πνευμονογαστρικοῦ νεύρου, τό ἐνδοκάρδιο (τοῦ ὁποίου ἡ ἐπιφάνεια δείχνει ἀνεβασμένη στίς «trabecole carnee», μορφολογικά καί δομικά ἀνάλογα μ’ αὐτήν τῆς ἀνθρώπινης καρδιᾶς), πολυάριθμες ἀγγειακές ἀρτηριακές καί φλεβικές δομές ποικίλης διατομῆς καί τό ἴχνος - ἐντύπωμα τῆς δεξιᾶς καί ἀριστερῆς κοιλίας, τῶν ὁποίων οἱ διαστάσεις δείχνουν ἐλαττωμένες, ἐξ’ αἰτίας τῆς ἰστολογικῆς ἀφυδάτωσης πού συνέβη στή Σάρκα κατά τήν διάρκεια τῶν αἰώνων, μέσα στή φυσική διαδικασία μουμιοποιήσεως.