Commemorated on April 22nd
The Commemoration of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, Irene
Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene suffered martyrdom by the Turks on the island of Lesvos (also called Mytilene) on April 9 1463 AD, after the fall of Constantinople. St Raphael was the Abbot of Karyes near the village of Thermi on the island. St Nicholas was a Deacon at the monastery, and St Irene was the 12-year-old daughter of the major of Thermi. The three saints were at the monastery with the village teacher and St Irene’s father when the Turks raided it.
These saints were unknown for about 500 years after their martyrdoms during the Turkish occupation of Lesvos. In 1959 the three saints appeared to the people on Lesvos in dreams and visions. They guided excavations of their own graves, called people to repentance, and cured many kinds of diseases.
The saints revealed how they were cruelly tortured at the monastery, calling it a "second Golgotha" (in the words of St Raphael). St Raphael’s torture ended when his head was sawn off. St Nicholas died of heart failure when he was being tortured. St Irene was tortured in front of her father and burnt alive in a clay cask, where her charred bones were later found. The teacher’s head was cut off and placed between his legs when he was buried. A great deal of blood was shed at the monastery; the saints were martyred for the sake of their Christian faith and Fatherland.
Found amongst these excavation was St Raphael’s round metallic Enkopion with a low relief of Christ Pantocrator on it. Orthodox Bishops wear Enkopions externally on the breast.
Having contended on Lesvos for the sake of Christ God, you have sanctified the island since the discovery of your sacred relics, O blessed ones; for what reason we honour you, O God-bearing Raphael, together with Nicholas and virgin Irene, as our divine protectors and intercessors with the Lord.
Let all of us honour as our protectors and miracle-workers the holy Martyrs who manifestly contended for Christ. Whose relics were hidden under the earth for many years, and who have manifested themselves to us in wondrous ways, Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, as well as those who contended with them in a godly-minded manner.
Let us honour with hymns the Hosiomartyrs of Christ, divine Raphael and venerable Nicholas, together with Irene, the guardians of Lesvos, for helping all.
The first and most important lesson for unbelievers is that God,
Whom we venerate and worship,
"... is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32)