The Monk Markellos, Hegumen of the Monastery called "the Ever-Vigilant"

Commemorated on December 29

      The Monk Markellos, Hegumen of the Monastery called "the Ever-Vigilant" ("Neysypaiuschii"), was a native of the city of Apameia in Syria. He was early deprived of his Christian parents. He received his education first at Antioch, and then at Ephesus. All his possessions left him by his parents he distributed to the poor, thereby sundering his ties to the world. Under the guidance of an experienced elder at Ephesus, Markellos entered upon the path of asceticism. He later went on to Byzantium to the Monk Alexander, hegumen of the monastery named "the Ever-Vigilant". The monastery received its name from this, that in it psalmody was done constantly, both day and night. The Monk Alexander accepted Markellos and vowed him into the monastic form. Zealous in the works of watchfulness, fasting and prayer, the saint was early vouchsafed great spiritual talents and the gift of perspicacity. Markellos foresaw the day of death of Abba Alexander and his own election as hegumen; but, being himself still young, he did not want to hold authority and so immediately left the monastery to visit at other monasteries, where he received edification from the elders.
      After the death of Saint Alexander, when Abba John had already been chosen as hegumen, Markellos returned, to the great joy of the brethren. Abba John made Markellos his own closest assistant. After John's death, Saint Markellos was chosen hegumen of the monastery in spite of his own wishes, and in this dignity he dwelt for 60 years. News of his saintly life spread far. And to Markellos there came from afar both the illustrious and the common among people, both the rich and the poor. Many a time they beheld Angels encircling the saint, attending to and guarding him. With the help of God the monastery "Ever-Vigilant" flourished. Saint Markellos, having received from believers the means for its enlargement and embellishment, built a beautiful large church, an hospital, and an homeless hostel. By his prayers the monk doctored the sick, cast out devils and worked miracles. For example, one of the monks was sent to Ankara and there fell ill. Being near death, he called out mentally to his abba. In that very hour the Monk Markellos heard with a spiritual hearing the cry of his student, and he started to pray, and he that was sick recovered immediately. When a ship with his monks came into danger, the monk by his prayer calmed the sea tempest. Another time, when they told the monk that a fire was raging at Byzantium, he prayed tearfully for the city being devastated in the fire, and the fire subsided as though extinguished by the tears of the monk. One time John, the servant of a certain dignitary named Ardaburios was unjustly accused of something, and he hid out at the monastery to escape the wrath of his master. Ardaburios twice demanded of Saint Markellos that he hand over John to him, but each time met with refusal. Ardaburios then sent out a detachment of soldiers, and the monastery was surrounded. Worn down in spirit, the brethren went to the abba, asking deliverance from the troubles. Saint Markellos boldly went out alone through the monastery gate towards the soldiers, holding a cross. A shining radiance encircled the monk, and from the cross came flashes of lightning, amidst peals of thunder. The detachment of soldiers therewith took to flight. Ardaburios, learning from the soldiers what had happened, approached in fright, and because of Saint Markellos he pardoned the servant.
      The monk expired peacefully to the Lord in the year 485. His faithful student Lukian grieved terribly over him, but on the fifth day after the death the Monk Markellos appeared to him and comforted him, foretelling his own impending end.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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