St. Markella, the Virgin Martyr of Chios
St. Markella was born and raised in the village of Volissos in Northwest of the island of Chios. Her mother was a Christian, but died young and left the young St. Markella to be raised by her pagan father. Despite the difficult circumstances of her youth, St. Markella grew in Christian virtue. When St. Markella was in the flower of youth, her father conceived an unholy lust for his own daughter and tried to assail the Saint’s virtue. As soon as St. Markella realized her father’s intentions, she left her home and fled to the mountains where her father soon followed. St. Markella hid beneath a bush where the Church of St. Markella is now located, but a shepherd betrayed her hiding place to her father. Her father set fire to the bush and drove her again to the chase.
When St. Markella fled to the rocky shore, her father decided that it would be too difficult to continue the chase, so he shot her from afar with his bow and arrow. The rocks where St. Markella was hit are stained with her blood to this day. Though wounded, St. Markella continued to flee until she fell upon the rocks in exhaustion and prayed, “Lord, rend this rock and hide me inside.” The Lord answered her prayer; the rock broke open and received her within as far as her chest. Her father, in no way frightened by the miracle performed before his eyes, lunged to kill his own daughter. He cut off her breasts, which he threw towards the mountains, and her head, which he tossed into the sea. Floating on the waves, her head gave off a strange light that drew the attention of passing sailors, who took the holy relic to Rome.
Although there is some uncertainty about the time when St. Markella lived, and some authorities place her life in the time of the persecutions under the Roman Empire (c. 3rd to 4th cent. A.D.), it seems that she was martyred sometime around the year 1500.
St. Nikephoros of Chios in the 16th century testified that the relic was in Rome in his day, but it has since disappeared. The rock that was rent in two and received St. Markella within has since that day gushed forth water in a continuous miracle, especially when the Service of Supplication (Paraklesis) to St. Markella is chanted. Over the centuries these waters have brought miraculous healings to many pilgrims.
Icon of St. Markella
We are truly blessed to have acquired a historic icon of St. Markella in which may be venerated by the faithful.
Apolytikion of Markella of Chios in the First Tone
Τῆς ἁγνείας τὸν ῥόδον καὶ τῆς Χίου τὸ βλάστημα, τὴν ἁγίαν Μαρκέλλαν ἐν ᾠδαῖς εὐφημήσωμεν. τμηθεῖσα γὰρ χειρὶ τῇ πατρικῇ, ὡς φύλαξ ἐντολῶν τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ῥῶσιν νέμει καὶ κινδύνων ἀπαλλαγὴν τοῖς πρὸς αὐτὴν κραυγάζουσι, Δόξα τῷ δεδοκότι σοι ἰσχύν, δόξα τῷ σε θαυμαστώσαντι, δόξα τῷ ἐνεργοῦντι διὰ σου πᾶσιν ἰάματα.
Obeying the Lord’s saving commandments and divine laws, you with zeal did blamelessly keep them, O venerable Markella; and fearing your father’s violence, O pure and uncorrupted bride of Christ, you did flee into the mountains, where in pursuit he found you and seized and slew you. Glory to Christ who has given you strength. Glory to Him who has crowned you. Glory to Him who works healings for all through you.