In the Menaion three Prosomia are given at Vespers for St Diomedes. The Typikon, however, prescribes 3 for the Mandylion and the 3 for the Feast from Small Vespers. It also prescribes an Entrance at Vespers. At Matins there is a Canon and a Kathisma, after the 3rd Ode, for the Saint, which are not translated here, and a Great Doxology. I have only translated the first third of the lengthy Synaxarion entry for the Mandylion. The exchange of letters may also be found in Eusebiuss History of the Church, but, significantly, he makes no mention of the story of the Mandylion.
In the second troparion of first Ode of the canon for the Icon, St Germanos quotes the phrase most precise definition from St Gregory the Theologian, which is also quoted in the first troparion of the iambic canon for Pentecost, to describe the relation of the Word to the Father.
Commemoration of the translation from Edessa of the Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ Not Made With Hands, or the Mandylion; and of the Holy Martyr Diomedes.
AtLord, I have cried we insert 6 stichera and we sing 3 stichera of the Feast.
Tone 2. With what garlands of praise.
With what lips shall we, poor and worthless, call the Mother of God blest? She is more honoured than creation and holier than the Cherubim and all the Angels; she is the unshaken throne of the King, the house in which the Most High made his dwelling; the salvation of the world; the hallowing of God, who on her godly feast richly grants the faithful his great mercy.
What songs of awe did all the Apostles of the Word offer you then, O Virgin, as they stood around your death-bed and cried aloud with wonder: The Palace of the King departs, the Ark of hallowing is exalted. You gates be lifted up, that the gate of Gate may enter in great joy, as she unceasingly asks for the world his great mercy.
What spiritual songs may we now offer you, all-holy? For by your immortal Falling Asleep you have hallowed the whole world, and have passed over to things beyond the world to perceive the beauty of the Almighty and, as his Mother, to rejoice in it exceedingly. Ranks of Angels escort you, pure Virgin, and the souls of the just; with them ask for us peace and his great mercy.
And three of the Holy Icon. Tone 2. Same melody.
With what eyes shall we who are born of earth look upon your image, which the armies of the Angels cannot look at without fear as it blazes with divine light? For it departs to-day from the land of unbelievers and by divine decree comes to dwell in the Queen of cities and among a people of true religion. At its entry Kings rejoice, O Christ, falling down before it with fear and faith.
With what hands shall we creatures of dust touch your Image, O Word? We who are stained by faults touch you, our sinless God? We who live in filth touch you the unapproachable? The Cherubim tremble and hide their gaze; the Seraphim cannot bear to see your glory; creation serves you with fear. Do not then condemn us, O Christ, who unworthily greet from faith your dread appearance.
Once again the godlike day of the Masters festival is here; for he who is seated in the highest has now clearly visited us through his honoured Image; he who is unseen by the Cherubim above appears through painting to those to whom he has become like, formed ineffably by the immaculate finger of the Father according to his likeness. As we worship it with faith and love we are sanctified.
Glory. Both now.Tone 6.
Come, let us feast the universal Dormition of the all-blameless Mother of God; for to-day Angels celebrate the honoured Translation of Gods Mother, and invite us who are born of earth to a festival to cry with never-silent voice: Hail, who passed over from earth and took up your abode in heavenly dwellings. Hail, who gathered the choir of the Disciples together by a light cloud. Hail, our hope and protection; for we, the race of Christians, ceaselessly call you blest.
At the Aposticha, Prosomia of the Feast.
The company of the Disciples is gathered from the ends of the earth in Gethsemanes field, Mother of God, to bury your body which held God.
Verse:Arise, O Lord, to your rest: you and the Ark of your holiness.
O your mysteries, Pure Virgin, which are above nature! For as Gods Mother you have now radiantly departed to him, Mother of God.
Verse:The Lord has sworn truth to David; he will not turn from it: the fruit of your womb I shall set upon your throne.
The tomb of the Virgin and Mother of God is a ladder leading up to heaven those who ever glorify her with faith.
Glory. Both now.Same melody.
When you were translated to him who was born of you, O Virgin, the Apostles came together on clouds to bury your body.
Apolytikion of the Holy Icon. Tone 2.
We venerate your most pure icon, loving Lord, as we ask pardon of our offences, Christ God. For by your own choice you were well-pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, to deliver from the slavery of the enemy those whom you had fashioned; therefore with thanksgiving we cry to you: You have filled all things with joy, our Saviour, by coming to save the world.
And of the Feast.
In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world; you passed over into life, you the Mother of life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.
After the 1st Reading from the Psalter.
Kathisma. Tone 4. Joseph was amazed.
The armies of the Angels as they watched your Translation, immaculate Mother of God, blessed, all-praised All-holy, having the counsel of the One born from you they gathered the band of Disciples and with joy bore your honoured body to Paradise as they sang the praise of Christ, the Giver of life, to the ages.
Glory. Both now.The same.
After the 2nd Reading, Kathisma to the same melody.
As your Fashioner and God he translated to perfect joy your soul that had been placed in the hands of the One who had become man from you for our sake; therefore we reverently call you blessed, the only pure and undefiled, and as we all acknowledge you to be in deed Mother of God we cry: Implore Christ, to whom you have passed over, to save our souls.
Glory. Both now.The same.
Psalm 50. Then the Canons of the Feast, the Holy Icon and the Saint.
The Canon of the Holy Icon, of which the Acrostic is:
By Patriarch Germanos.
Ode 1. Tone 6.
The One who before was without a body, by the Fathers good pleasure did not refuse to be formed with a body like ours, and has granted us the grace of a divine representation.
The unchanging nature, the most precise definition of the Father, having entered mortal flesh, left behind for us on earth his characteristics when he went back to heaven.
By your revered sufferings, O Christ, you justified your inheritance, which had been shaken by the deception of the Enemy, making it stable by the representation of your form.
Taking flesh from your pure loins in a manner above nature, O all-blameless, the One who gives being to all mortals became visible, yet not abandoning what he was before.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 3.
You wrapped the honoured Church around with raiment, O Saviour, when you moved the royal heart to seek out your likeness as a shield wall.
Wishing to strip away things that are good and diminish them in time, the begetter of envy shamelessly handed them over to polluted hands; but he was confounded, for his reckoning was in vain.
David once danced with radiant joy before the holy Ark; and now the one who has gained royal sceptres as his lot is glad to give them greater strength by the divine likeness.
Wishing to cut out from its root all the forefathers natural disobedience, O Virgin, your Son assumed from your womb all that is human.
Kathisma of the Holy Icon. Tone 1.
The king of Edessa, recognising you as King of all things, who do not offer sceptre and army, but with a word multitudes of wonders, implored you, the God-man, to come to him. But seeing your impress on the towel he cried out, You are Lord and God.
Glory.Of the Saint.
Tone 8. The Wisdom and Word.
Both now.Of the Feast. The same.
O Virgin, who conceived God without seed and without corruption gave birth to him incarnate, you have been clothed in the new incorruption of the Spirit; for as Mother of Life and Queen of all things you have passed over to immaterial life. Therefore fittingly and truly you have been revealed as a cloud pouring down waters of life for us. All-blameless Mother of God, intercede with your Son and God to grant forgiveness of faults to those who with faith bow down before your divine Falling Asleep.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 4.
As it leaves the city in the East and draws near ours, the King, wise in God, now receives your sacred napkin.
Sweet is the sun, which appears to the eyes; but sweeter the appearance, O Christ, of your likeness; for the one gives sensible light, the other spiritual.
Strength deserted the right hand of the Ishmaelite, for with the weapon of the Cross the stern King cast all its defence to the ground.
Intercede we beg, O most pure, that your city may be guarded unharmed from barbarous assault; for see what the boasters devise against her.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 5.
Small was the city that first prepared your reception, O Christ, which the coming of Thaddaios set free from diseases, the writing of your hand and the depiction of your face.
The gifts of your graces have been multiplied, O Christ; for the things which before Edessa held in its bosom as its boast, New Rome receives with rejoicing.
Halt the massed assaults of our enemies, O Virgin; destroy their devices; help your inheritance; for you see that we have been beset by evils.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 6.
You were fairer in beauty beyond all the sons of mortals, O Saviour; for though you had neither form nor beauty at the moment of your passion, yet you truly enlightened all things, and the sight of your form is revealed. Its likeness, imprinted on a cloth, has been granted to us.
The multitude of the strength of the Hagarenes has been removed and has now given, like an Ark from among foreigners to the new Israel, your imprint on a towel, O Christ, and your glory which it had also gained; for it is not right for Holy Things to be thrown aside.
Just now I was fainting, O Saviour, from the strength from your hand; but take your blows from me at the prayers of her who bore you without knowing man, O Word, and do not abandon me to be drowned by the tempest of sin and suffer dread nausea, O only Redeemer.
Kontakion of the Feast.
On the 16th of the same month, commemoration of the holy Martyr Diomedes.
In life by choice, in death his head cut off.
On the sixteenth of the month Diomedes was slain by a sword stroke.
On the same day the venerable Chairemon died in peace.
O blest Chairemon, at lifes end rejoice [chaire];
For then you saw the start of toils reward.
On the same day, commemoration of the thirty three holy Martyrs from Palestine, who died by the sword.
Which falling by the sword crushed demon ranks.
On the same day memorial of the entry of the Image Not Made By Hand of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, brought from the city of the Edessenes to this god-protected Queen of cities.
A final burial cloth you wore when dead.
For the Tile
By hand now bears your form not made by hand.
When our Lord and great God and Saviour Jesus Christ was, in his goodness, working many wonders, as it is recorded in the sacred Gospels, and when his reputation was spreading everywhere, Agbar the Ruler of Edessa heard of them and wanted to see Jesus Christ with his own eyes, but was unable to do so because he was suffering from incurable diseases. For a black leprosy had burst out over all his body and had consumed him, for this reason he was unapproachable and unseen for all his subjects.
Around the time of the Passion of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, he wrote a letter and sent it by a certain Ananias, ordering him to depict with absolute accuracy his height, his hair and his face, and in short his whole bodily appearance, and to bring him the form of Christ; for Ananias was a skilled painter.
The letter was as follows, word for word:
Agbar, Ruler of the city of Edessa, to Jesus Saviour, the good physician, who has appeared in Jerusalem, greeting!
I have heard about you and about your cures, which are done by you without drugs; for example you make the blind see again; you make the lame walk; you cleanse lepers; you drive out unclean spirits; you heal those who have been tormented by disease over long periods. Having heard all this of you I had one of two ideas: either that you are Son of God, who do these things, or that you are God. So then I write to you and ask you to and to come to me to cure the suffering I have, and then to be with me; for I have also heard that the Jews murmur against you and wish to do you ill. My city is very small but distinguished and adequate for both of us to live here in peace.
Ananias left for Jerusalem and having given the letter to the Lord he gazed intently at him, but, since he was unable to get near him because of the surging crowd, he climbed up onto a small outcrop of rock and at once began to move his eyes while press his hand to the paper and he began to copy the appearance of what he saw, but he was quite unable to capture his form because it appeared now with one now with another appearance and with differing aspect. But the Lord, who knows what is hidden and searches hearts, knowing his intention, revealed what was happening secretly. For he asked to wash, and while doing so he was given a cloth folded in four, and when he had washed he wiped his most pure and divine face with it. Thus his divine form and appearance were imprinted O the wonder! on the cloth. This he gave to Ananias saying, Go, give this back to the one who sent you. He also gave him a letter in the following terms,
Blessed are you, Agbar, who have believed in me, though you have not seen me. For it is written of me that those who have seen me do not believe in me so that those who have not seen me may believe and live. As to what you wrote about my coming to you, it is necessary that I accomplish all that I was sent out to do and, after I have accomplished it, to be taken up to the Father who sent me. And when I have been taken up I will send you one of my Disciples, named Thaddaios, heal will heal your disease and grant you and those with you eternal life and peace, and he will make your city such that no enemy can prevail against it.
At the end he fixed seven seals in Hebrew letters, which when translated mean,Picture of God Divine wonder. [In Greek a play on words: Theou thea theion thavma]
Agbar received Ananias with great joy and fell down and worshipped the Holy and most pure Icon of the Lord with faith and much love, and he was instantly healed of his disease. Only a small patch of leprosy remained on his forehead. After the saving passion of Christ and his assumption into heaven the Apostle Thaddaios reached Edessa and brought Agbar and all those under him to the font, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When Agbar came out of the water he had been cleansed of the small remaining trace of leprosy.
On the same day we commemorate the great and surpassing love for mankind of God concerning us, which he demonstrated once by routing with shame the godless Hagarenes, at the mediation of our most holy Lady, Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary.
On the same day the drawing of the holy water in the church of Life-receiving Spring and of its replenishment.
But then, filled up, works wonders yet again.
On the same day the commemoration takes place of the dread threat in those times of the earthquake, from which, beyond hope, our God who loves mankind delivered us.
To him be glory and might to the ages. Amen.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 7.
O Word of God, when you dwelt on earth you drove out every disease with a word; but returning to your Fathers throne you heal our diseases through your Imprint.
The One who created all things by a word, and who received a form that was not his, has left behind for us visible appearances of his own form. As we receive them with gladness, we rejoice.
The faithful king, seeking with his whole soul an impression of your form, Lord, as he sought so he found, discovering the fitting fulfilment of his godly longing.
By your conceiving humanity was freed from the ancient condemnation; for God, having found you alone to be wider than the heavens, O All-blameless, made you his dwelling.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 8.
As in a vision, the whole chosen people of the city, hoping that you, the Lord, will make your home there, gives you a wondrous welcome, leading out a choir of High Priests, carried on whose shoulders and entering your own inheritance, O Compassionate, you came to rest in your Mothers shrine.
The mouths of innocent children sang your praise as you journeyed to the city that slew the Prophets; but the lawless synagogue of the Hebrews armed a murderous hand and raged against you. But now the lawful city, pouring out with all its people because it sees you, the Creator, rejoices as it receives the imprint of your form.
The Angel of Great Counsel of the Father, having chosen to put on flesh, was brought to completion in your womb, O All-pure. He declared you to be his Mother below, O holy one, and renewed corrupted mortal nature. We bless him as Creator and highly exalt him to all the ages.
Of the Holy Icon. Ode 9.
A people without understanding raved against you, O Saviour, and in return for kindness shamelessly threatened dreadful deeds against you; but we, who had been thrust far away, were adopted as children by your sufferings, O Saviour.
Grant help against their enemies to the Orthodox and to their faithful Sovereigns, because we have gained as an invincible protection, Master, the symbols of your flesh. Through them they look towards their salvation.
The Word of God, bearing a body, appeared to those on earth, double by nature from you, O All-blameless, by exchange of the Godhead, united without mixture in one hypostasis by the mingling. Him we glorify.
Exapostilarion of the Saint.
Glorious great Martyr, divinely you empurpled the Church of Christ with the streams of your blood; while you quenched the soul-destroying deception of idols, all-blessed Diomedes; and now do not cease to intercede for us to the Lord.
And of the Feast.
The company of the Apostles, assembled together on clouds, as is fitting buries the Mother of the Lord, the Saviour too being present with tens of thousands of Angels.
At the Aposticha of Lauds, Prosomia.
Of the Feast. Tone 2. House of Ephratha.
With hymns the godly worshippers, as they accompanied your revered body that had received God, cried out, Where do you now depart, Sovereign Lady?
Verse:Rise, Lord, to your rest; you and the Ark of your sanctification.
Come, let us born of earth set in place the dance as we cry aloud the funeral hymns at the Translation of the Mother of God today.
Verse:The Lord has sworn truth to David, and will not annul it: Of the fruit of your womb I will place on your throne.
Earth has been blessed by your burial, O Virgin; while the air has been sanctified by you ascent, strange to the law of mortal nature.
Glory. Both now.
It was fitting for the eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Falling Asleep of his mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore him. Therefore carried over from all parts by divine power, they came to Sion and escorted her, as she who is higher than the Cherubim hastened towards heaven. With them we worship her as she intercedes for our souls.
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