Archangel Michael of Mantamados
This page is dedicated to the miraculous icon of Archangel Michael of Mantamados (Gr. Μανταμάδος) in Lesvos, Greece.This icon is one of four miraculous icons of the Archangel Michael in the Dodecanesse of Greece.
Monastery of the Taxiarchis
On the island of Lesvos, one can visit this miraculous icon at the Byzantine Monastery of the Taxiarchis (Archangel Michael) in the district of Mantamados. This monastery is situated in the northeast part of Lesvos, 36 km from Mytilini. The history of this monastery and the icon is closely connected to the history of the island of Lesvos.
This is a famous monastery, made of stone. In the past, the monastery functioned as a men’s convent and is first mentioned in a 1661 ecclesiastical document. The small church within the monastery originally dates from the 17th century but was replaced by larger church in the 18th century. The present church (cathedral) was constructed in 1879 and follows a three-aisled basilica architectural type. The monastery is structured para-metrically around this church.
The Saracen pirates, during the 9th and 10th centuries, began to invade the entire island. One of their main targets was the monastery of the Taxiarchis. During one of the raids, the Saracen pirates slaughtered all of the monks in the monastery. One monk, however, in his attempt to escape, climbed up the roof but the pirates pursued him. As they closed in on him, the Archangel Michael appeared in front of the Saracens with his own sword drawn and forced them to retreat in a panic. This is how the monk survived.
The monk was in such deep respect and reverence for having witnessed the Archangel Michael in all his fury, decided to recreate the image while it was still vivid in his memory. Not having any other tools but that of clay and the blood of the martyred monks, he began to sculpt the image. The monk did not have enough clay to work with and so the head of the Archangel has turned out disproportionally larger than the rest of his body.
This icon, is now kept within the interior of the church. Many islanders claim to have had personal experiences of miracles being granted for them by Mantamados. This is evident by the numerous cabinets full of ‘tagmata’ to the Archangel housed inside the church. To this day, pilgrims to this church have mixed emotions regarding this icon. At times, the expression on the icon can appear sever, sad or happy according to the message that the Archangel wants to convey to that pilgrim or the faithful. This is the legend of the much-celebrated icon of Mantamados and is the only carved icon (in relief) in existence in Orthodoxy.