Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Miracle at Carthage

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Russian icon which depicts the passage of the soul through the toll-houses to reach Christ (

The Synaxarion of April 28th records the following miraculous story from Carthage, Africa (amateur translation from the Greek):

When the emperor of Constantinople was Herakleios I (610-641), Niketas the patrician, the following miracle occurred in Africa. An officer of the royal army was in Carthage. However, because a plague struck the city, he took his wife and left for an area outside the city, where his house was, supposedly to escape death. In reality, however, he left because the devil urged him to sin. Unable to scatter his carnal thoughts, he was convinced to commit adultery with the wife of his gardener. Not long after his fall, he because seriously ill from an inguinal hernia, which in the end led him to death...

Three hours, however, after his burial, they heard cries from the tomb:
“Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” They ran and lifted the stone covering the grave. And what did they see then! The soldier was alive! Alive, but speechless. This strange occurrence reached the ears of Thalassios, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who hastened to this place to console the wretched soldier.

Four days passed. Then the soldier's voice returned and he began to relate what had happened: “A short time before my soul left my body, I saw a few dark beings surrounding me, terrible to the sight. Afterwards I saw two beautiful youths approach me. They were angels! As soon as they came close, my soul was filled with joy. They took me with them and we began to ascend to heaven. In our aerial journey we every so often met at the toll-houses, those dark ones, who scrutinized every sin of mine. One toll-house was of lies, another of wrath, another of greed...The angels, of course, overcame them, showing my good deeds. When however he reached the gate of heaven, we met a whole rank of toll-houses, the sin of lust. These showed the adultery which I had done a short time before. And thus I was defeated! They seized me and dragged me to the depths of the earth. There the souls of sinners are tried with such a martyrdom, that the tongue of man cannot relate them. As I began to wail there below, the those two youths appeared again before me. “Have mercy on me”, I entreated them, crying, “and give me time to repent”. Then the one turned and said to the other: “Do you take responsibility for him? Should we give him time to repent?” “Let's give it to him”, replied the other. They took me then and brought me to the tomb. There I found that my body had become as slime and sludge, and because of this I didn't want to go inside it. The angels, however, said: “It's impossible for you to repent another way, except with your body, because with this you sinned”. Then I entered my body. And this gave me life and I began to cry out.”

There the soldier finished his story. And having lived forty days further in starvation, with lamentations and wailing, he fell asleep again.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins (
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

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