St. Markella icon

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Orthodox icon of Saint Markella of Chios.

Commemorated July 22.

Saint Markella lived in the village of Volissos, Chios sometime after the middle of the fourteenth century. Her parents were Christians, and among the wealthiest citizens of Volissos. The saint's mother died when she was young, and so her father, the mayor of the village, saw to her upbringing. He was a difficult man who was cynical about the Church. Markella had been taught by her pious mother to be respectful and devout, and to guard her purity.

She avoided associations with other girls who were more outgoing than she was so that she would not come to spiritual harm through such company. Her goal was to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ. St Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and attending church services, aiding the poor and always trying to being others to the way of God.

She loved and respected her father, and comforted him in his sorrow. She told him she would take care of him in his old age, and would not abandon him. As an adult, Staint Markella was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. The Enemy of our salvation incited her father with an unnatural desire for his daughter. The unfortunate man spent a long time struggling against his lust, but, finally, he gave in to it. At times he would speak to his daughter roughly, then later he would appear to be gentle.

He no longer looked at Markella as his daughter but as a woman lustfully. He wanted to be near her, and to stroke her hair. Eventually Markella understood her fathers intentions. Horrified, the saint prayed to the Panagia for protection and tried to avoid him as much as she could. One morning she decided to leave her father's house. She ran away to the mountains. He father saw her leaving and began to chase her. But he could not keep up with her due to his old age. He yelled to her that he would find her and tear her apart.

Markella made it to the mountain top and hid in some bushes. Fearing her death she asked God to give her strength enabling her to overcome this evil. She remained there until nightfall awaiting her fathers arrival. It was a night with a full moon that lit up the countryside. She heard bells of a flock of sheep and a shepherdess appeared and she called out to her. Markella told her she was fleeing evil but did not tell her the details. Markella was well loved throughout the community. Marouso, the shepherdess volunteered to stay and be watchful.

They took turns while one slept the other stood watch.The people in her village Volissos noticed her absence and sought to find out where she was from her father. He told then sarcastically that she went to become a saint. Rage built up in her father and he took a knife and his bow and arrow and sought out after her. Markella and her friend saw him coming and she went into a nearby cave to hide. Her father encountered the shepherdess who told him nothing about her hiding place. He passed by and Marouso went to the cave where Makella was hiding and told her where her father had headed.

Markella then decided to leave this place and headed south towards the beach when she saw a shepherd. She approached near him and hid in a huge bush disregarding its thorns. The shepherd came over to see who this was and was surprised to find out it was Markella. The shepherd heard the approach of a horse and immediately her father was in front of him. With fiery eyes and foaming in the mouth he asked if he had seen Markella. Her father drew his knife as to threaten him so as he would tell him her location

. Frightened the shepherd pointed to the bush where Markella was hiding. Markella continued to pray as he approached her hiding place. He set the bush on fire to drive her out. Markella ran out the other side and ran toward the jagged rocks along the shoreline. She screamed for Christ and the Panagia to help her. She was bleeding from the thorns and ran frantically. Then she felt a pain in her thigh. She stopped and pulled out an arrow that her father had shot at her. It bled profusely. Meanwhile her father was getting closer Suddenly she was filled with the Holy Spirit. He countenance was filled with light. She was ready to fulfill a martyrs death. She continued to run along the rocky shoreline calling on the Panagia as she ran.

Exhausted she fell to her knees and miraculously the rock on which she stood gave way and split open and received her body up to the waist. Her father was viscously joyful that he had now captured her. He took out his knife and he cut off her breasts. Her blood spayed in all directions covering him with her blood. Markella again prayed to Christ and the Panagia. u00a0He then cut off her head and cast it into the sea. The sea crashed on the rocks and her father was fearful that he would be taken into the sea punishing him for his horrible crime.

So he ran to escape the scene of his crime. In later years, pious Christians built a church on the spot where St Markella hid in the bush. The spot where she was killed became known as The Martyrdom of St Markella, and the rock that opened to receive her is still there. The rock appears to be a large stone that broke off from a mountain and rolled into the sea. Soil from the mountain covers the spot on the side facing the land.

On the side facing the ocean is a small hole, about the size of a finger. A healing water flows from the opening, which cures every illness. The flow of water is not due to the movements of the tide, because when the tide is out, there would be no water. This, however, is not the case. The water is clear, but some of the nearby rocks have been stained with a reddish-yellow color. According to tradition, the lower extremities of St Markella's body are concealed in the rock. The most astonishing thing about the rock is not the warmth of the water, nor the discoloration of the other rocks, but what happens when a priest performs the Blessing of Water.

A sort of steam rises up from the water near the rock, and the entire area is covered with a mist. The sea returns to normal as soon as the service is over. Many miracles have occurred at the spot, and pilgrims flock there from all over the world.

Reference: G.O.A.A.