The Holy Martyrs of Mount Athos (January 4th)
(murdered by the papists)
by Archimandrite Ghervasios Paraschevopoulos
“There was a time when the Byzantine emperor of Constantinople – Michael the VIII-th, Palaeologus (1259-1282), seeking the political help of Pope Urban the IV (1261-1264), promissed to cooperate towards “the unification” of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the heretical Pope of Rome.
The king’ attempt however, met the steadfast opposition of the patriarch Joseph the Ist (1267-1275). If under differenet circumstances the patriarch would be very faithful to the king, when the king asked for “the union”, the patriarch refused and took the oath that “under no circumstances he may sign a union with the heretical pope.” Nor that he will ever acknowledge the papal authority which is contrary to the Gospel, the Holy Canons and the Holy Tradition.
The Pope’s claims with regard to the union were:
– an oath of allegiance to the pope by all clergy,
– the catechization of people should be in accordance with the faith of the pope of Rome and especially with the addition of “Filioque” in the Symbol of Faith (the Creed) by teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father but also “from the Son”;
– the Pope should be considered “appointed by God” (infailible) to judge and decide irrevocably and without appeal in any dogmatic matter. “That is to say he should be the supreme authority in the Church”
Then, where are we to place the local and Holy Ecumenical Church Synods (Councils)?! Well, they must be vented, because – according to the catholic dogma – the Pope is above all the Ecumenical Councils.
Oh my Lord, such a devilish exaltation!!! Pope Clement the IV (1265-1268), successor of Pope Urban the IV cherished the same thought and the same hope. The same can be said about Pope Gregory the X (1271-1276), the follower of Clement. A steadfast “creed” and claims for all Popes and almost the same conditions for the union that the king had asked insistently!
Many theologians and later the whole church, had joined the patriarch Joseph in his resistance. This opposition had angried the king to such a degree that the persecution of faithfull began.
Some of them were tortured; others were deprived of their properties. Although the whole city of Constantinople was against this union, the emperor, blinded by envy and hate, asked the inhabitants of the imperial city to pay him the taxes for the previous 10 years! How can this be? For the king regained Constantinople from the Franks 10 years back, so for this he regarded himself as the “owner of the city!”
Even more, his delegation left for Lyon (1274), France where the pope convened a “unionist” synod, bringing back with them the proposal on the union already signed by the pope.
And what were these signed proposals? The same as those each pope had always asked of: the addition of “Filioque” to the Creed, the recognition of pope’s supremacy, and the pope’s right to be mentioned by the patriarchs during Divine Liturgy!
And the result? The agreement in question stirred new wave of indignation and revolt among all Orthodox faithful. Almost everyone opposed it and bacause the patriarch Joseph openly opposed the agreenment, he was banished from the Patriarchal Throne. What then? Oh, the heretical patriarch John Beccus the XI (1275-1282) was elected!
Soon the opposition arouse from all orthodox ranks: the clergy and the people. Among them: Evlogia, the emperor’s sister, Andronicus Paleologus, John Paleologus, Manuel Paleologus (three of the king’ family) and Isaac Raul were against his position.
The Emperor and the new “Patriarch” began to use the most tyrannical means to compel everyone to accept the falls union: fearful martyrdoms, enprisonment, tortures, blindness, the cutting of one’ tongue, killings … A physical author of these tortures was the patriarch Beccus himself!
But let us now get back to the subject! In this context, we can understand the persecution of our athonite fathers from the Holy Mt. Athos. When the king and the patriarch have heard of their opposition, they became enraged and overshadowed by the blind passion of revenge: How dare they (some monks) oppose the royal order! How dare these simple monks of Mount Athos will disregard the patriarchal mitre! Let them be persecuted. Because they proved “arongants” and had disconsidered the “unity” with the heretical pope, so they deserve to be subjected to cruel tortures and pay with their blood.
Thus the king’s messengers and the fanaticals latins, armed with stringent provisions and powerful gards, came to the Holy Mountain and began the cruel martyrdom and executions of the “reactionaries ” athonite fathers and Starets (abbots/ Elders). When in the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi at their proposal to join the “union”, the latins encounterd the resistance of the monks, they began torturing the monastics fathers. Detachment of soldiers resorted without hesitation to unimaginable tortures to fulfill the imperial orders.
Oh, worthy servants of the Master! It was for your Orthodox faith that you considered this unhuman martyrdom a crown! What a grear honor was to shed their blood for Holy Orthodoxy! Twelve monks, brave witnesses of Christ, heroes and defenders of the purity of faith, fighting with great courage against the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ, were led on a hill side near the monastery. It was there (on the hill), that the latins raised gallows/scatffolds, and one by one the brave monks were hanged (as we see on the icon painted in memory of their martyrdom). Bidding each other farewell they were raised on the scaffold and from there to heaven, in the sweetness and delight of the Heavenly Kingdom, where their souls will rest with the righteous.
As for the Elder, they reserved other form of martyrdom. Another type of suffering, because according to the Latin thinkers, death on the scaffold was too mild for him.
The more Elder Euthymios (Righteous Euthymios of Vatopedi) showed his steadfast contempt and protest towards unification with the heretic pope, the more the emperor as well as pope’s “well-doers” were filed with grey shadows and contempt towards the one who just witnessed the death of his monks. Sparkled by rage… how will they seek revenge? What kind of death are they reserving for him? Near the monastery was the sea. The executors took him on the boat far into the sea and there, bounded in chains, the Elder was thrown at the bottom of the sea. So “their mission” with this monastery was accomplished!
Other monasteries were next (in line). The Latin troops as well as the Latin thinkers, adhering to the emperor’ orders, summoned an assembly of all monks living in monastic cells neighboring Kareem.
The purpose of the meeting was to compel the Athonite monks and their primate – St. Cosmas, Protos Of Mt. Athos – to approve the union with the “church” of the pope. They had to “think with the Latin mind” and adopt the Latin dogmas. However, all – the Protos and the monks – opposed the proposal of such betrayal. In a single voice and one heart, they were ready to die for the Orthodox faith, the only truthful one. It was in vain that the king’s representatives have threatened the monks by death, and the Protos with the scaffold. With courage and determination to die for their faith, they spoke against the falls union with the pope. You can not reconcile – they confessed – things that are irreconcilable. Can Christ be reconciled with Belial, or with the devil? “What agreement is between Christ and Belial” (II Cor. 6.15). There can be no communion between the East and the West. From the East came illumination and from the West, darkness.
So the dialogue was deemed meaningless. In Kareem, the athonite monks remained imperturbable, firm as a rock. And the enemies began their “work”. But the more they were tortured, the more they confessed the Orthodox faith. For this they were put to death. A cruel death: to be hanged and slained. The scatfold for the Protos and decapitation for the monks. The holy land of Kareem was sucked in their precioss blood.
In the Holy Monastery of Iveron, one of the biggest on Mount Athos (with a large number of monks), the Latins had used at first peaceful means. They seemed kind and amiable at first sight. They made used of all “opportunities” to convince them to join “the papal Church”. That is what God wants, they would say. It is His will that: “they all be one” (John 17:21). But neither the courtesy, nor the flattery arguments could tempt the monks. The Iveron monks knew very well who the pope was. They knew the history and did not want to make the same mistakes.
“Unification” with the pope would mean the greatest betrayal ever made. And they would never commit such betrayal that might hold one smirched with dishonor on earth and in heaven.
As for the other athonite monasteries, they shared the same fate. It was blood, martyrdom, and death.
And … what else did latins do, “in the name of Christ”?! They commanded the soldiers to gather all the monks. The order was immediately executed and, of course, in a brutal, barbaric, and savaged way. All for the sake of the “Holy Father of Rome”. “The purpose sanctifies the means?!” they said. And the means of arrestment in question was intended to achieve unification only. Will they ever put an end to injustice?! Of course, it could not be so. Other monks shared the same fate.
Those who had their origin in Georgia (Iviria) were taken slaves in Italy or, as others relate, they were banished in Italy. The other monastics and fathers – were taken by the military guards, to the quay of Iveron Monastery.
Then, they were embarked into a broached boat intended to be sank into the sea. So it happened. All the Holy Martyrs – the priests and the brothers from Iveron monastery – were sent to the bottom of the sea yielding their soul to Him who spoke through the mouth of the Evangelist John: “Thou be faithful unto death: and I will give thee the crown of life” (Apocalypse, 2:10). In that very moment, they were crown by the angels with the crown of the rightouss martyrs for the one Holy Apostolic Church. They are commemorated every year on May, 13th.
In the Holy Monastery Zographou, the papists uses their first weapon to “burn” the Orthodox Creed of the Holy Fathers. And what weapon… the rhetorical art! The athonite fathers were called to recognize the pope as the head of the universal Church in exchange for gold and “papal mercy”.
And what remark did the Latins receive from the priests? Their reply was a testimony of the Orthodox Faith. “And who told you that the pope is the head of the Church? Who handed you such teaching? As for us, the Head of the Church is Christ! We will better die than surrender and defile this holy place by your tyranny! We will not open the gates of the monastery! Go along /away! ”
Then the enraged papists used a second weapon to teach the monks a lesson. You wonder what weapon they used?! They used fire, the stake. Dying at a stake has always been a good instrument for the pope to achieve his goals. How many people died at a stake? Christ’s “representative” on earth, always used fire for those who did not obey or worship him. The fire to burn! According to their testimony: “If you do not wish to share the same faith with us, then die!”
[…] The fathers preferred to give their lives than to abandon the faith. Our church commemorates them every year on the 22nd of September.
No true Orthodox will ever accept the unification with the heretical pope because the unification in question means obeying the papist rules. The consequences of such obedience will be disastrous and will have a negative impact on the whole Orthodox Church. Today, defenders of orthodoxy stand as guarantors for its safety. Both our Orthodox people and Orthodox monastics living around the Holy Mount Athos always stood as a protective shield against the enemy. This protective shield is alive even today. None of the Orthodox fathers living around the Holy Mount Athos will ever accept such disastrous unification.
Archimandrite Ghervasios PARASCHEVOPOULOS
(Translated by blog’author)
Disclaimer: This article is not a call to hatred against the pope, as it may seem, but the history has to be revealed in its clarity for us to reflect on the deceit (of Satan) and the darkness one can encounter when it departs from the true faith of Christ and start calling/seeing himself infallible!
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”, of the true Church of Christ, and their blood is a testimony of how we ought to live our lives following our Master on the cross in order that we might be resurrected with Him. Because when man no longer cares to speak the Truth, then the rocks will (the nature will start fighting against man)….