On Sunday the 16th of May 2021, the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Woman, in a spirit of great festal joy, a procession with the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael of Mantamados was conducted at the Church of Sts Constantine and Helene in Perth, WA.
The Church was filled with hundreds of parishioners, most especially members of the Mytilenian Brotherhood of Western Australia and other Greek-Australian diaspora hailing from the island of Lesvos, in order to honour the miraculous icon of the Archangel Michael. Parish Priest, Fr Terry Gerovasilis, spoke about the story of how the icon came into existence and the special place it holds for the Mytilenian community.
The original miraculous icon of Archangel Michael of Mantamados is found on the island of Lesvos. There are two accounts surrounding the date of this icon, one having to do with the Ottoman Turkish occupation and destruction of 1462, and the other with Saracen pirates during the 9th and 10th centuries during which the entire island was invaded.
In either case, the story of the creation of the icon shares the theme that the target of the raids was the monastery of the Taxiarchis. The pirates threatened the monks with death if they would not reveal the whereabouts of the hidden villagers. The monks refused and the invaders slaughtered all of the monks except for one novice-monk.
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.
This icon, is now kept within the interior of the church on the island of Lesvos. Many islanders claim to have had personal experiences of miracles being granted for them by Mantamados. This is evident by the numerous cabinets full of tagmata (gifts) to the Archangel housed inside the church. To this day, pilgrims to this church have mixed emotions regarding this icon. At times, 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 the faithful. This is the tradition of the much-celebrated icon of Mantamados.
The Church of Sts Constantine and Helene houses a very large icon of the Archangel Michael of Mantamados, which is located near the entrance of the Church.
The Archangel Michael of Mantamados is celebrated on the 8th of November but also on the Third Sunday after Pascha, Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers.
Following the procession, at the completion of the Divine Liturgy, a morning tea was provided for all the faithful in the lower hall of the Hellenic Community Centre adjacent to the Church.