Miracles of Our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God of the Holy Monastery of Choziba

20 September 2021

In our narration of the miracles of our glorious Lady, full of grace, the Mother of God, we shall draw some drops from the boundless sea, to the honor of the all-praised Mother of God.

1. No woman had ever entered the Monastery of Choziba. This is the reason why they were later allowed to do so. There was a certain noblewoman in Byzantium, who suffered from an incurable internal illness and, though she spent a great deal of money, she suffered worse than before. She therefore decided to go from Byzantium to the holy city, in order to pray. She reached Jerusalem and, having venerated the holy sites, she then went down to the River Jordan. She continued to pray and visited the monasteries there, entreating God and giving generously to the monks, while also asking for their prayers for her healing and salvation. While she was in a litter, making the ascent to Saint Zacchaeus’, in an ecstatic vision she saw our Holy Lady the Mother of God, who said to her: ‘Why is it, noble lady, that you’ve been everywhere else but not to my home?’ She replied: ‘And where is your home, Lady that I might come to it?’. Our Lady said to her: ‘As you ascend, when you get to the so-called ‘Watering-places’, down below on the torrent is my home’. The woman replied: ‘I’ve heard, Lady, that no woman enters there’. Our Blessed Lady said to her: ‘Come, get down. I’ll take you inside and grant you your health’. She did all this, I think, to let everyone know that this is a holy place and it lay within her power to determine what and how she wanted things to be conducted there. When she arrived at the place, the woman said to her entourage: ‘Lift me up and take me to the monastery down there on the torrent, on the right’. They answered: ‘Lady, we can’t get a litter down there and, in any case, women aren’t allowed in. This is why we didn’t tell you to go down there’. ‘Lift me up onto a horse, then’, she said, ‘because the Mistress of the world urged me to go there’.

When she dismounted, the monks were singing Vespers and Our Lady ensured that they were all at the service. There were two gatekeepers, one of whom was in church and the other in the kitchen for something he needed. So the lady and her entourage entered as far as the middle court-yard, because the small gate did not shut until the third hour of the night. When one of the monks saw the women he ran into the church to tell everyone. The place was in turmoil and, when the abbot learned what was happening, he rushed out, swearing at the gatekeepers and threatening them. The noblewoman saw his distress and said to him: ‘Don’t be angry, father. No-one’s to blame for letting me in here’. She took him aside and told him of her vision of Our Lady and how she’d promised to bring her here and cure her. ‘Just tell me where I can go and rest’. The abbot spoke with the clergy and the elders and then said: ‘This is Our Lady’s will, so we can’t gainsay it’. He took her off to rest in the vestry, since she could not go into the church because of the service. Then the bell rang for the midnight office, she stood up and left, completely well. She told the story of her vision of Our Lady and the grace of the cure and then asked to take communion with the faithful, since she was heterodox and had never taken Orthodox communion. Having partaken of the holy and venerable sacraments and given generous alms to the monastery, she left, thanking and praising God and our blessed Lady, the Mother of God. And so she was granted a double cure, spiritual and corporeal: first she was cured of heterodoxy, that destructive sickness of the soul; and also of the inner, incurable ailment of the body. This was the occasion for women being allowed to enter the monastery of Choziba.

2. There was a Roman monk at the monastery, Vitalius by name, and he had an uncle, a layman, who lived in the holy city. Every now and again the man would go down to the monastery of Choziba to get a blessing and to see his nephew. One evening, because it was so hot, he went to sleep outside the gate. He was also drunk from the amount of wine he’d consumed. He got up in the middle of the night, but was befuddled so when he was attacked by a demon, he fell to the ground. He lay there, in the middle of the road and went back to sleep, oblivious to what was going on. When the muleteers found him asleep on the road, they picked him up and took him to the monastery. He wasn’t hurt, but was as limp as a sack. He’d been kept safe and sound by the grace of Our Lady.

3. One of the brotherhood was called Prokopios and one day he was coming down the hill that lies to the east of the monastery, carrying a load of bushes. Suddenly there was a very strong gust of wind, either from the enemy or something natural, I can’t be sure, and this caught the load, which went tumbling down towards the road, together with the monk. Over and over it went, with the monk on top first, then the bushes and so on. On seeing this, the other monks shouted: ‘Lord, have mercy’. They thought he must have been shredded into little pieces, but when the monk got to the road, he stood up, hefted the load and went into the monastery. He’d been saved in a most unusual manner by Our Lady, and hadn’t suffered any harm at all. The whole brotherhood thanked God and Our Blessed Lady profusely for this.

4. One of the monks was a gardener in the beds that were just outside the front of the monastery. One day he went down to the garden after midday. It was boiling hot and he saw a snake asleep in the damp shade under the lettuces. As soon as it sensed his footfall, it made to escape. But Brother Martinus, as the gardener was called, had a scythe in his hand and ran after the snake. He struck at it and cut off its tail, but was unable to kill it. Two years later, the snake lay in wait for the gardener to take its revenge for the loss of its tail. It was where the earth was banked up, under the lettuces, in the dark places. When it saw him weeding, it approached silently, slithering among the plants, in order to take its revenge. Because he was protected by the grace of Our Lady, the gardener felt in his heart what was happening and, turning round, rebuked it and got rid of it. The strangest thing, though, is that when the monk left his obedience as a gardener and became a muleteer, the snake also left the garden and now waited on the roads. The muleteer was so frightened that he wouldn’t go out at night. But when our blessed Lady saw the pain and sorrow on the part of the monk because of this hindrance to his obedience, she took pity on him and overcame the snake. Because, one day, as the monk was crossing the bridge at the front of the monastery, it lunged at him. It couldn’t strike at him, though, and escaped under a hollow rock, from which, however, there was no way out. The monk had his staff with him and killed the snake, even though it begged him not to with its tongue, as if it were crying out loud. And so, by the grace of Our Lady, the blessed Mother of God who is full of grace, the monk was spared this great struggle and from the dread, antagonistic enemy, who acted through this devious reptile which dwelt within him. The devil, who fell from the heights of heaven and dragged down to earth the reptile which so resembled him, had lain in wait for two years, day and night, to get rid of the monk, if he could.

5. But, as I said before, there’s not enough time for me to praise the miracles from the inexhaustible ocean of Our Lady who is full of grace. When I’ve told one more, a dessert as it were, to my narrative concerning the five Fathers who are buried there, I’ll say no more.

6. On this site, there lived five monks from Syria, who succeeded one another until our holy father John came. It was he who built the holy monastery here and later became the Metropolitan of Caesarea Maritima. The first of the five built a very small kelli, which today is the vestry of the lower little church. It was named for Saint Stephen and they each took it over one after the other. They also built a little chapel to Saint Stephen as well as the structure which now holds their holy relics. The rest of the monastery was built by our holy father John.

7. When the fourth welcomed the fifth, who was named Zeno, and was a young man without a beard, the following happened. After the Sunday service, the teacher would send the young man to Jericho to bring back holy bread for the oblation if people were going to visit them for a blessing. One day, while the young man was standing near the apse of the sanctuary, at the time of the offering, and his teacher was completing the cutting of the holy bread in a loud enough voice, he listened in and heard some words of the anaphora, which he learned by heart. One Sunday, as he was returning from Jericho with the loaves of holy bread, he remembered the words he’d heard his teacher saying when he was preparing the offering and he began to say them aloud repeatedly. At once, the Holy Spirit descended and sanctified both the bread and the young man. An angel of the Lord appeared to his teacher, who was resting a little after the Sunday service and said to him: ‘Get up, elder, and celebrate a liturgy of the presanctified gifts with the bread the young man is bringing, because they’ve already been sanctified’. When the young man came, the teacher asked him: ‘Where have you been, wandering around till this time, ignoring the task I sent you out to perform?’. The young man defended himself, saying that he hadn’t deviated in any way from the command he’d been given. Again the teacher asked him and examined him carefully as to what he’d been thinking about on the road. The young man replied: ‘My psalms’. Wishing to know the force of his vision and the command of the Angel, the teacher persisted in asking and examining him carefully, threatening that he’d punish him physically if he didn’t confess the truth. In the end, the young man confessed that he’d been learning some words from the oblation, which he’d heard when his teacher was preparing the holy bread. From then on, he didn’t allow the young man to approach the apse of the holy altar when he was performing the holy and bloodless offering. Because he realized that it was through him that the Holy Spirit descended and that the holy offering was sanctified. From then on, the young man became a most admirable, illumined and spirit-bearing monk. When he died- still beardless- he was laid to rest in a receptacle, together with the four holy Fathers who had preceded him.

8. Now their names were these: Promos, Elijah, Gannaios, Aian and Zeno and they left a legacy of a virtuous life filled with noble works, since they preferred the solitary struggle and lived with patience the ascetic life, in exchange for the heavenly kingdom. This is why, because they have great boldness before God, they grant many gifts of healing to those who live there and those who visit. They lie in a receptacle from which therapeutic oil flowed constantly, soaking the slab which covered the receptacle. But since the enemy who destroyed our race is always envious of the good gifts which God and his saints have given us, he encouraged a verger to go into church before the start of the service and see to the icon-lamp of the saints. When he found it unlit, he went to the receptacle to venerate the relics. The slab on the receptacle was covered in oil from the saints. Because it was dark, his clothes, his face and his beard all became soaked in oil. Moved to annoyance by the enemy, he tipped out the oil from the saints and since then there has been no flow of therapeutic oil, much to the chagrin of the fathers and visitors, because the saints had effected many cures through it. I think this happened because he approached the saints with disdain and indifference. But even today, they haven’t ceased to grant their blessings and healings in abundance to those who plead with them in faith. So, blessed and select servants of Christ, honorable fathers and brothers, let us also implore God that we may excel with the most perfect life in the virtues of the monastic life. And may we offer God ceaselessly the veneration he is due. Faith unfeigned and unaffected, with respect and all desire and fear, forming a fervent bond with our neighbor and a warm treasure of love, as well as true spiritual riches, with peace, within the treasury of a heart unwounded. So that, through the prayers of our spotless Mother of God, full of grace, and our holy father, George of Cyprus, and all the saints, clad as in light and bearing spiritual virtues, we may be allowed to offer to God, the King of all, fruits worthy of eternal inheritance. May we gain the eternal blessings, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to whom, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, belong glory, honor and veneration, to the ages of ages. Amen.

Sources: from the book: ‘The wondrous life and teaching of our Blessed Father Georgios of Choziba, the Cypriote’. pubd. by Apostolos Varnavas. Rendered into Modern Greek by the theologian Alexandros Christodoulou.