The Suffering of the 26 Zografsk MonkMartyrs:

Commemorated on October 10

      The Suffering of the 26 Zografsk MonkMartyrs: In the year 1274 at the Council of Lyons (in France), the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos decided to buttress against his own near downfall of power, by reckoning on an union with Catholic Rome – with an Unia. The step evoked universal discontent throughout the land, and the emperor in 1278 issued a decree to introduce the Unia at Byzantium, if necessary by forceful measures. Holy Mount Athos stood in firm opposition to the Unia. The Athonite monks dispatched a letter to Michael, in which they pointed out basically, that the Primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, the making of the Eucharist with unleavened bread-wafers, the inserted addition in the Creed-Symbol of Faith of the "filioque" ("and of the Son") – all this cannot be accepted by Orthodox, and they besought the emperor to change his mind. "We do clearly see, – it says in the letter, – that thou art become an heretic, but we implore thee: forsake all this and dwell in that teaching which was handed down to thee... Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations added on to the faith". Crusaders, pushed out of Palestine and finding refuge in the Byzantine empire ("Romania"), declared to the emperor their readiness by fire and sword to affirm the power of the Pope. Michael moreover hired as mercenaries both Turks and Tatars. When the troops came nigh to the emperor's despised Athos, and so as not to provoke the Greeks, he decided to vent his spite upon the Athonite Slavs. By order of Michael the servants of the Pope descended upon the Bulgarian Zografsk monastery. When the demand to accept the Unia was presented before the Zografsk monks, none of them even wanted to hear about Catholicism. The majority of the Zografsk monks left the monastery, but the most steadfast, 26 in number, remained in the monastery wall-turret. These were: the hegumen Foma (Thomas), and Monks Varsonuphii, Kirill (Cyril), Mikhei, Simon, Ilarion, Iakov (James), Job, Kiprian, Savva, Iakov, Martinian, Kosma, Sergei, Mina, Joasaph, Ioannikii, Pavel (Paul), Antonii, Evphymii, Dometian, Parphenii and 4 Laymen. The holy martyrs for their Orthodox Faith were burned in the monastery turret on 10 October 1284.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.