On the third Sunday after Pascha, we commemorate the Archangel Michael of Mantamados. In Greek "O Μανταμάδος" refers to a miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael in a church on the island of Lesvos, which was consecrated on this day. This is one of the four miraculous icons of the Archangel in the Dodecanese of Greece.
The icon dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries during an invasion of the entire island by the Saracen pirates. The Monastery was the target of the raids, the pirates threatened the monks with death if they would not reveal the whereabouts of the hidden villagers (some say treasures of the monastery). The monks refused and the invaders slaughtered all of the monks except for one novice-monk, named Gabriel who remained hidden.
As the pirates where leaving, the novice climbed to the roof of the monastery to be sure that the pirates had left. However, the pirates noticed him from afar and returned to kill him as well. It is at this point in the story that the Archangel Michael makes his appearance in front of the Saracens with his own sword drawn forcing them to retreat in terror. Thanks to this miracle from the Archangel the monk survived and descending to the courtyard buried the bodies of his fellow brotherhood.
The monk still in deep respect and reverence for having witnessed the Archangel Michael in all his fury, gathered up the earth that was red by the blood of the martyred monks and shaped it into the icon-sculpture of the Archangel as it is today; while it was still vivid in his memory. According to legend, the monk did not have enough of this dirt-blood mix and so the head of the Archangel has turned out disproportionately larger to the rest of his body.
Centuries have passed but the ‘bas-relief’ icon still preserves its freshness and remains as if untouched by time. From time to time, the Archangel’s eyes are filled with tears which Christians wipe away with little pieces of cotton. They do the same with the beads of perspiration which occasionally appear on the icon.
Another miracle is that every person who approaches the icon to pray may receive a unique and different reaction from St. Michael the Archangel. The expression on the face of the icon might change to a healthy shade of red and sometimes there is a joyful smile on the face of the icon. At other instances, the Archangel Michael’s face darkens and becomes fierce and, on certain occasions, some people are held back from approaching by an invisible force. The expression on the icon can appear severe, sad, or happy according to the message that the Archangel wants to convey to that pilgrim or faithful.
"Where your grace casts its shade, Archangel, there the devil's power is chased away; for the fallen Morning Star cannot endure your light..." Doxastikon of the praises, tone plagal first
May he intercede for us and protect us all!
"Poetic History and Miracles of St. Michael, the Archangel of Mantamados", by Fr. Eustratios Dissos, Abbot of the Monastery of the Archangel of Mantamados.