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26 Monkmartyrs of the Zographou Monastery on Mount Athos In the year 1274 at the Council of Lyons (in France), the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos decided to buttress his waning power by forming a union with Papist Rome. This step evoked universal discontent. In 1278, the emperor and Constantinople\'s Patriarch Ioannis Vekkos issued a decree to introduce the Union at Constantinople by forceful measures, if necessary. Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael and the patriarch pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the \"filioque\" [\"and from the Son\"] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. \"We clearly see,\" the letter said, \"that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you.... Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.\" The Crusaders pushed out of Palestine and finding refuge in the Byzantine Empire, declared to the emperor their readiness to affirm the power of the Pope by fire and sword, if necessary. In addition, Michael had hired mercenaries, both Turks and Tatars, to enforce his decree. The emperor despised the monks of Mt. Athos for their opposition. Since he did not want to provoke the Greeks, he decided to vent his spite upon the Athonite Slavs. By Michael\'s order, the servants of the Pope descended upon the Bulgarian Zographou monastery. When the demand to accept the Union was presented before the Zographou monks, they refused to listen. They adhered to the doctrines of the Fathers, and fearlessly censured those who accepted the Latin teachings. The majority of the Zographou monks left the monastery, but the most steadfast, twenty-six in number, remained within the monastery tower. These were:Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sava, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen. The holy martyrs for their Orthodox Faith, were burned in the monastery tower on October 10, 1284. The Holy Martyrs of Zographou Heroes of Zographou, knights of truth, Sacrificed themselves for the Orthodox Faith, And shamed the proud, shameless Latins, As their souls rose up to the Kingdom of God. The tower\'s flames mounted up to heaven, As the monks in the fire sent up praise to God! Heaven with its angels beheld that spectacle, As the criminals crawled about like worms below the tower. In the flames, Abbot Thomas, a true parent, Encouraged his brethren, and began the Psalms: He who glorifies the Lord does not fear death, And he who dies for God will not perish. The sacrifice is offered, and the altar of oblation remains: The bodies were burned, the souls flew off, And by that sacrifice, Zographou increased in glory With magnificence eternal and true. St. George the knight, cherishes his knights As the Mother of God cherishes all heavenly citizens. In these knights of righteousness, the Church rejoices: They are her children, her fruitful branches. REFLECTION By God\'s providence, the greatest number of miracles and heavenly manifestations occur during the martyrdom of His servants. On the day that the Latins set out for the Monastery of Zographou, an old monk had an obedience in a vineyard half an hour\'s distance from the monastery. At the prescribed time, he read the Akathist before the icon of the Mother of God. However, when he began to pronounce the word ``Rejoice!\'\' a voice came to him from the icon: ``Do thou also rejoice, O elder! Flee from here now, or misfortune will befall thee; go and tell the brethren of the monastery to lock themselves in, because the enemies of My Son and me are coming .The frightened elder fell to his knees and cried out in fear: ``How can I leave thee here, my Queen and Intercessor?\'\' At this he again heard the voice: ``Do not worry about me, but go quickly!\'\' The elder went to the monastery immediately. But when he reached the monastery gates he beheld that same icon of the Mother of God. In a miraculous manner, the icon had preceded him to the monastery. The amazed elder related all that had been revealed to him to the abbot and the brethren. At that, all of them glorified God and the Mother of God. Once, during the celebration of the Feast of the twenty-six martyrs of Zographou, on October 10, 1873, there was a great all-night vigil. It was a moonless night. In the middle of the night, while the monks were chanting and reading the lives of the holy martyrs in the church, a noise was suddenly heard, and over the church a fiery pillar appeared, extending from earth to heaven. It was so bright that things at a distance could be seen as though it were midday. This wondrous manifestation lasted for about a quarter of an hour and then disappeared.
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