Tuesday, June 5, 2012

St. Mark the New Martyr of Chios

  
The Holy Neomartyr Mark was from Smyrna. As a pedlar he would travel between Kusadasi (Nea Epheso), Chios and the surrounding areas. He was married. Once, at the suggestion of his brother, he moved to Ephesus. There he became involved with a Christian woman, Maria, and cheated on his wife. She delivered him, however, to the Aga, and one night he was caught in the act. In the morning, at the tribunal, both of them converted to islam. Mark, having been circumcised, was adopted by the Aga, while the woman joined his harem. Later he left her free to live in her own home, giving her an allowance.

Mark, as a son of the Aga, was externally cruel to Christians, until the condemnation of his conscience began to not leave him with any peace. Thus, he hastened to an experienced Orthodox confessor to confess. The spiritual father initially did not accept him in case in case he was hypocritical. However, the tears and perseverance of Mark won him over. Maria also want to the same spiritual father, and the two of them desired to flee from Kusadasi in any way possible, and entreated their spiritual father to help them. Nine months had passed since their conversion, and he suggested that the woman pretend to be sick. The physician who “examined” her, a friend of the spiritual father, revealed that only in Smyrna could she be healed. The Agas permitted Maria to leave along with Mark, but soon he realized their deception, and send a message to the Pasha of Smyrna to seize them. Mark then found a boat which was leaving for Trieste in Italy, and so he took Maria and left. After some obstacles, they were forced to disembark in Venice. There, having been anointed with the Holy Chrism [by the Orthodox], they were reunited with the Church, and their marriage was blessed (his lawful wife must have died already), and they lived with repentance and contrition.

Later, however, because the Saint could not find any peace due to his denial, and he wandered around with his family, even reaching Russia. In the end, he returned to areas occupied by the Turks, and confessed to many spiritual fathers: Metropolitans and Patriarchs, his greatest desire to suffer martyrdom. They all tried to dissuade him, reminding him how dangerous it would be for him, and for all the other Christians, and that he could be saved with repentance. His most-fervent desire to confess, however, led him back to Kusadasi, where he had previously denied Christ. His spiritual father did not give him a blessing to be martyred there, because the Turks were enraged previously by the martyrdom of the Holy Neomartyr George (April 5th) and they were in the process of building a new church.

Because of this, he left for Chios, where, after great spiritual preparation, he appeared before the Aga. When the Aga asked him what he wanted at the tribunal, he responded: “I am a Christian named Mark. My roots are from Thessaloniki, and I was born in Smyrna to Christian parents.” The Saint continued to confess his holy faith, and to preach against islam. He took a cross from his chest and venerated it, throwing down the turban he was wearing, and putting on a cap from the Holy Mountain. The Agas responded in astonishment: “Are you crazy or drunk, O man?” The Saint responded: “I am neither crazy, nor a drunk, and beyond that I have been fasting.” The Aga tried to seduce him, but he responded that he was ready to shed his blood for Christ. He then locked him in prison, and placed his feet in stocks, the wooden torture board. The Saint had so much contrition that he chanted hymns with a very melodious voice. The Soumpases (guard), out of malice, entered the cell and adjusted the torture board to cause him greater pain. Then, he began to kick him where he was, until the Saint began to bleed from his mouth. Despite this all, he continually thanked God for the passion he was suffering. Some Christians decided to enter the prison to strengthen the martyr. They related his struggles. In the prison, they told him many things to strengthen him spiritually, that he might complete the stadium of martyrdom. Furthermore, the local church arranged to have the Saint partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in the prison. The second trial followed, sometimes with promises, sometimes with threats. The Saint censured them steadfastly and entreated them to believe in Christ. This angered them all, and they pushed him furiously, and hit him so much that they hung him from the stairs. Throughout this process, those who guarded him beat him with rods and did other tortures. The Saint continually chanted and said: “Lord, accept me, Your denier.”

Many Christians, from the first day that he was seized, and during his tortures, began to fast strictly and to pray greatly. All the churches served liturgy every day, and they continually chanted the Paraklesis in the churches and homes, desiring to strengthen the martyr. And the Saint himself entreated the Christians to pray and not try to dissuade him. He foresaw his death, and asked for the forgiveness and the prayers of all, and sent his thanks to those who stood by him, and his reverence to the priests.

In the end they took him from prison, and pushing and cursing at him, brought him to the tribunal. All of the Agas and the Mufti were gathered. After his third confession, on June 5th 1801, they condemned him to death by the sword. He exited the tribunal with joy, and with a shining face. And while bound hand and foot, he hastened to his place of execution as if he were not walking on the earth. This was even observed by the guards, who said that demons must be lifting him in the air, as they were forced to run to stay with him. The judge and the guards with sticks in hand struggled to keep back the crowd that had gathered to see the struggle of the martyr. When the Saint reached the place, he kneeled by himself in joy, and said to the executioner: “Come, strike.” The executioner out of clumsiness, was not able to behead the Saint with one strike, but even dropped it out of his hands. The Saint fell down in a ball, unmoving, without being upset or crying out. The executioner grabbed the sword and soon beheaded the Saint with many quick strikes. The Christians glorified God. Many hastened to the churches, where they cried out in joy, chanting martyrical hymns. Everyone, with unstoppable momentum and without counting money, sought to take something of the martyr's, from soil drenched with his blood to a portion of his clothing.

The Holy Relic, which was fragrant, was bought by the Christians for a lot of money, and buried. A portion of the relic of the Saint exists in the Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas, Imerovigliou Theras.

From the martyrdom of the Holy Neomartyr Mark, astonishing miracles began, which are referrenced in his Synaxarion.
(amateur translation of text from: http://thesvitis.blogspot.com/2012/06/5-1801.html)
  
Apolytikion in the Third Tone (amateur translations below of the Greek text, written by St. Nikephoros of Chios)
You gladdened the whole island of Chios, O godly-minded, glorious Martyr Mark, as you radiantly preached piety, and deposed profane error, through your words and struggles, O godly-wise one. As you received that which you sought, O ever-memorable one, remember us who praise you.

Additional Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
God glorified you in heaven and on earth, O adornment and boast of Martyrs, O Mark the radiant. To those who celebrate your sacred memory with fervor, and faithfull venerate the treasury of your relics, grant your grace, and pray to Christ for them, that they be delivered from dangers and trials.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Those who stand round your reliquary, O glorious Mark, and faithfull venerate your divine relics, grant the grace of the Spirit through your prayers, that He might dwell in them and remain in them, and pour forth the streams of healings, for you have attained boldness before the Lord.

Additional Kontakion in the Third Tone
Joyously Chios praises in hymns, and ever honors your wondrous struggles radiantly, hastening to where you were martyred--O strange wonder!--hastening to your Master Who sactified your blood, as you desired, the boast of Martyrs, O Mark, the Athlete of Christ.

Oikos
The radiant and perfect one of Christ, the inconquerable Champion, the adornment of the Martyrs, and the holy treasury, let all of us, the faithful, together place the crowns with the flowers of praises upon Mark, who sprouted as a joyous rose in the great city of Smyrna, which nurtured him well, while the famed island of Chios is joyously enriched with the godly fragrance of his martyrical struggles and feats. Therefore, rejoicing and praising his memory, and honoring his wondrous struggle, sanctifies me to cry to him: you who shed your grace-flowing blood, never neglect me,  the boast of Martyrs, O Mark, the Athlete of Christ.

On this day (June 5th), the memory of the Holy Neomartyr Mark, who hailed from Smyrna, and struggled on Chios in 1801.

Verses.
Mark, Chios has as a great boast,
For there your sacred and radiant blood of Martyrdom was shed,
Wherefore, she praises the Lord joyously, Who gave you to us.
  
Taken from the full service to St. Mark the New Martyr (in Greek) by St. Nikephoros of Chios here: http://voutsinasilias.blogspot.com/2009/06/5_02.html.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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