By Michalis Kakias.
ASTORIA – The Great Archieratical Vespers, in honor of Saint Markella, took place at the Cathedral of Saint Markella in Astoria, presided over by the GOC Metropolitan of America, His Eminence Demetrius, and the former Metropolitan Bishop of America, Paul, assisted by a number of priests, on Thursday, August 3.
In his statements to the National Herald, Metropolitan Demetrius wished St. Markella to bless the Hellenes and give health, joy, and prosperity.
“Saint Markella,” he said, “has helped many people here in New York and will continue her pleasing to God work. For us, this parish has a great history and I feel it the highest honor to have been serving for the last three years since I took up my duties. Chronia polla to everyone.”
The Metropolitan Bishop of America, Paul, pointed out to TNH that St. Markella is a source of hope, optimism, and life, and wished God to protect people and guide them on the path of salvation.
Anna Hadjicostas, Vice President of the Parish Council, thanked the faithful who attended the celebrations and honored the community with their presence.
Kalliopi Menakis, a member of the Philoptochos Society, praised the social and charitable work of the organization. “The Philoptochos,” she said, “has 25 members to provide moral and material help and support to our fellow humans in need, while helping our church in all the events.”
Demos Menakis, a former president of the Parish Council, expressed his love for the Cathedral of St. Markella, which he has attended since 1956. “My whole life is connected with this church. Here my wife and I were married and saw our four children married, at St. Markella we baptized our 15 grandchildren, and saw 5 of them married, and our seven great-grandchildren were baptized here and we hope to see them get married here, too,” he said jokingly.
The services for the saint’s feast day at the Cathedral of St. Markella in Astoria. Photo by Michalis Kakias
The celebratory events for the feast day of St. Markella culminated on Friday, August 4 with the Archieratical Divine Liturgy, followed by a treat for all the believers with coffee and desserts prepared by the nuns and the ladies of Philoptochos Society.
Finally, it should be noted that the Greek festival of St. Markella is scheduled for Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17.
St. Markella is the patron saint of Chios and was born on the island in the 14th century. She was the daughter of the mayor of her town. Raised in the Christian faith by pious parents, she lost her mother at a young age. Young Markella, devoted to Christ, preserved her virginity in spite of numerous temptations from the Devil. Seeing he could make no progress with Markella, the Evil One turned his attention to her father, and enflamed within him an unnatural lust for his daughter.
After her father declared his desire for her, Markella ran away in tears and fear. At the edge of the water with no escape in sight, a rock opened up for Markella to enter and enclosed her lower half within it. When her father reached her, he was furious and beheaded his daughter on the spot. The miraculous rock is still on Chios in the church dedicated to Saint Markella the Virgin-Martyr and healing waters spring from it.