An Excerpt from Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene
by Constantine Cavarnos
[Kontoglou’s] account, although not very well organized, remains to this day the
fullest, most detailed account that we have of the manifestations of Saints Raphael,
Nicholas and Irene during the years 1959, 1960, 1961, and the first two months of
A Great Sign was published in 1962, and turned out to be Kontoglou’s best
selling book, despite the fact that it is written in purist Greek, whereas nearly
all the rest of his many books were written in the more popular demotic idiom. It
has been reprinted many times, and has served as a rich source of information and
inspiration to many thousands of persons in Greece and abroad.
The events described in A Great Sign and in my manuscript, both of which
I will utilize in this book, taken together constitute something unique in the whole
history of Christendom. I regard them as enormously important for contemporary man,
who tends to dismiss the miraculous, the supernatural, and to base his life on some
form of dogmatic materialism. It is to shatter this materialism, to strengthen Christian
belief, and to promote the regeneration of contemporary man that the three Saints
who are described by Kontoglou and in the present book are believed to have been
sent to this world five centuries after their martyrdom. This is the effect they
have had on those to whom they have manifested themselves in dreams and visions,
by what they have said to them and by the miraculous cures which they have performed.
And these persons have been innumerable, not only in Greece, but also in many other
“When the refugees came in 1922, some families took up residence in that house*.
It so happened that my mother and uncle Constantine Marangos went and lived there.
They dwelt in the mansion—and I together with them—for about ten years. During this
period, they often saw a priest censing, especially on Saturday night and on the
eve of holy days. They called him ‘the apparition (phantasma) that causes
no evil.’ They were not afraid.”
At this point, Mrs. Angeliki Marangos, the mother of Vasiliki Rallis, began to speak.
“On holy days, at night, we used to hear footsteps on the stairs and on the floors,
and smelled incense. Also, we used to see a priest censing.
“About thirty years ago, I saw the priest in a dream, and he told me: ‘I want you
to do what you said.’ And I asked him: ‘What is it that you want me to do?’ ‘My
akolouthia’ (church service). The fact is that one day I said to those who lived
with us in that house—there were seven other families: ‘He must have been killed
by the Turks and been buried without a funeral service, and that is why he appears
“The story of that house is remembered by Father Sitaras, the priest of the Church
of St. Symeon at Mytilene. In 1917, he was chief police officer at Thermi, and carried
out an investigation about these events. He concluded that real supernatural phenomena
had been taking place here.
“When the Turkish mansion fell to ruins—it did so of itself—Constantine Siahos took
some of the materials of the ruined house to use in building his own home. Siahos
was one of those who had lived with us in the mansion. He incorporated some of the
carved church marbles in the new dwelling. At this house, from the time it was built
until the present day, they have been seeing the priest appearing and censing.
“Before Siahos built his house, one of his neighbors, Mrs. Garyphallia Mourlou,
saw in a dream an officer who said to her: ‘Tell Siahos not to use the marbles for
his house, because the Turks had taken them from a church which they tore down.’
But she failed to tell this to Siahos, owing to her shyness.”
The significance of these events will become increasingly clear as the story proceeds.
At this point, I will make just one comment which throws some light on them. There
is obviously a connection between the appearance of the spirit of the priest holding
a censer and censing, and the presence of church marbles first in the mansion and
later in the house that was built by Siahos. The church marbles were treated by
the spirit as things holy. I recall in this connection a relevant statement quoted
by the Russian writer P.D. Ouspensky (1878-1947). He says that an Orthodox friend
of his once remarked: “Positivism assures itself that a stone is a stone and nothing
more; but any simple woman or child knows perfectly that a stone from the wall of
a church and one from a prison all are different things.”  I also recall the
following statement of Jesus that is quite relevant and tells us something about
what it is that differentiates one such piece of matter from others: “The
temple sanctifieth the gold” of the edifice.  Implicit here is the idea that
a church, as a “house of prayer,”  as a “house of God,”  sanctifies
the materials which constitute it, be they gold, wood, or stone. Finally, there
comes to my mind this passage from a book by St. Symeon of Thessaloniki: “A church,
even though it is made up of stones and timber and other materials, has supramundane
Grace. It is consecrated by a bishop by means of mystical prayers and is anointed
with Holy Myron, and the whole of it is rendered an abode of God.”... 
Every thoughtful person who has read about the manifestations of the Saints of Thermi
at the place of their martyrdom and elsewhere, or has heard about them and of the
events related to these manifestations—such as important finds and miraculous cures—has
been prompted by them to do some serious reflection regarding their implications.
Those who have read the present volume up to this point have undoubtedly come to
some definite conclusions already. I shall set forth some of my own thoughts concerning
these manifestations and related events.
Their first, most obvious implication is that contrary to materialistic philosophy,
scientific materialism and much of recent psychology, there is such a thing as a
psyche or soul—an entity distinct from the body, an enduring center
of consciousness, of thinking, of feeling, of choosing or willing, of distinguishing
between truth and falsehood, good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly. There is
an entity, often spoken of as “the inner man,” which survives the death of the body,
It was this thought, this conviction, that led Mother Evgenia Kleidara, Abbess of
the Convent of St. Raphael, to write a book entitled You Have an Immortal Soul,
which was published in 1986 at Athens. After discussing what various eminent figures
of modern and earlier times have said in support of the doctrine of the immortality
of the human soul, and citing also the testimony of Holy Scripture and of the Church
Fathers, she calls the attention of the reader to the momentous significance of
the appearances of the Saints of Thermi regarding that doctrine. Mother Evgenia
“The compassion of God has provided us with events which show clearly that there
is life after death. The appearances of the Newly Manifested Saints Raphael, Nicholas,
and Irene in our days declare the immortality of the soul. For five hundred years
their bodies were in tombs, and today their spirits are amongst us. Thus our Saints
give the answer. The greatness of God sent to present-day distressed mankind the
gigantic spiritual figure of Saint Raphael, to declare loudly by his presence that
we have an immortal soul.
“Countless are the persons in all the countries who confess the appearances of the
Newly Manifested Martyrs Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene. Without even knowing the
Martyrs, the latter tell them who they are, cure them, and invite them to the Convent
at Thermi of Lesvos.
“No other argument or testimony for the immortality of the soul is as powerful as
the presence of the Newly Manifested Saints. There can be no proclamation that is
greater, more powerful for today’s man to believe that he has an immortal soul.”
Some philosophers, while admitting the existence of the soul as an entity distinct
from the body, and the possibility and even probability of its surviving the death
and disintegration of the body, have stated that this does not necessarily imply
immortality the everlasting existence of the soul; for the soul, they say, might
eventually perish after its separation from the body through a gradual diminution
of its being. But the case of the Neomartyrs provides a strong negation of this
view. For after more than five hundred years since their death there has been no
diminution of their being. If anything, there has been an increase in it.
They enter into our world of space and time, into the experience of a great many
persons, with might and main. They manifest themselves with powerful will, clear
intellect, and intact memory, testified by the fact that they relate numerous personal
details that pertain to their life on earth.
Thus the sceptics’ view is refuted, and the teaching of the Eastern Church Fathers
that in the life to come the saints shall increase their gifts is confirmed.
* The author states earlier that this was a Turkish mansion built after the Turks
took over the island of Lesvos. It was “adorned with beautifully carved marbles
that were once a part of a church”. This church was from the monastery near Thermi
where the Saints were martyred.—Webmaster
- Tertium Organum, New York, 1923, pp. 156-157.
- Matthew 23:17.
- Matthew 21:13.
- Luke 6:4.
- Symeon Archiepiskopou Thessalonikes Ta Hapanta (“All the Works of Symeon,
Archbishop of Thessaloniki”) Thessaloniki, ca., 1960, p. 317.
- Evgenia Kleidara, Echeis Athanate Psyche, pp. 156-157.
* Endnote numbering slightly different from the book.
From Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, Vol. 10 in the Modern Orthodox
Saints series, by Constantine Cavarnos (Belmont, MA: Institute
for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1990), pp. 28-29, 40-42, 156-158.
This is one of the most inspiring books about Saints available in English. These
Saints were martyred during the pre-dawn hours of April 9, 1463 (Bright Tuesday),
but only revealed to the world in 1959 through many miraculous dreams and visions.
Their Feast, as ordered by Saint Raphael, is celebrated on Bright Tuesday (instead
of their commemoration dateApril 9thas listed in the Synaxaria).
Posted on April 29, 2008.