Feast of Saint Mary 

September 20, 2021

The revelation of the miracle of our Lady Mary in the city of Tsedenya when oil dropped from the tablet with her portrait [painted] upon it as if it had been clothed with flesh is commemorated in our Holy Church.  Now, it is said that Luke the evangelist painted this portrait.  The cause of its coming to Tsedenya was a certain widow whose name was Martha, and who turned her House into a habitation for pilgrims; and she loved our Lady Mary exceedingly, and ministered unto her with all her power.  One day there lodged with her a certain righteous monk whose name was Theodore, and she received him with joy.  And on the following day when she was bidding him farewell, she said unto him, “Whither goes thou, O father?”  He said unto her, “I go to worship in the Sanctuary in Jerusalem.”  She said unto him, “Take a little money from me to buy me a picture of our Lady Mary, and bring it to me when thou returns to me”; and he said unto her, “I will buy [a picture] with my own money, and bring it to thee.”

When he had arrived in Jerusalem he knelt and prayed in the holy places, and he set out on his return journey without having bought the picture.  immediately  he  heard  a  voice,  which  said  unto  him,  “Why  hast  thou forgotten to buy the picture?” being troubled by the voice he turned back into the marketplace, and found a picture of our Lady Mary, which had sweet features and a beautiful form.  Having bought it he wrapped it up in cotton and in fine linen.  as he was traveling along a terrible road in the desert thieves rose up against him, and when he was wishing to take to flight, a voice came forth from that picture which said, “Fear not: complete thy journey”; and he went on his way and none challenged him.

Another time a savage lion rose up against him and wanted to rend him, and straightway an awful voice came forth from that picture and drove away the lion.  When Theodore saw all these signs and wonders, he wanted to carry that picture and drove away the lion. When Theodore saw all these signs and wonders, he wanted to carry that picture to his own city, and he did not wish to give it to the widow.  As he was traveling by boat on another journey, the wind rose up against him and carried him towards Damascus.  Having disembarked he went into the house of that widow with several other pilgrims, and he did not discover himself to her, and she did not know him. On the following day when he wished to go forth secretly and to depart to his city, the gates of the house failed to work and they remained jammed throughout the day; in the evening the monk returned to his abode, and when the widow saw him she wondered.  He continued to do this for three days, returning each evening; he saw the gate, but when he wished to go through it, he was unable to go on his way.  Then the widow took him and said unto him, “O my father, what ailed thee?  Is thine heart troubled that I see thee thus disturbed?”  Then he told her everything that had come upon him in the matter of the picture.  Straightway she brought him into her house, and she opened the wrappings of the picture and found that drops of sweat were falling from it; and by reason of her joy she kissed the hands and feet of the monk.  Then she took the picture into her prayer-chamber, and laid it upon a stand in a recess with great honors.  She made for it a brass grating, so that no one could touch it, and she hung before it lamps which burned by day and by night, and outside these she hung silken curtains.  Beneath the picture she set a marble bowl into which the drops of oil, which sweated out from it, might be collected.

That monk dwelt with the widow, and ministered to the picture of our Lady Mary until they both died.  And when the archbishop of that city heard the report of the picture, he, and the bishops and the priests and all the people came [to the house], and when they looked at the tablet with the picture they found that it was in the condition of being covered with flesh; and they marveled at this divine work.  Having emptied out the oil from the bowl, and divided it among themselves as a blessed thing, the bowl filled up [again] immediately.  When they attempted to remove the picture to another spot a great earthquake took place, and many people died; and the picture remain there until this day.

Source: The Ethiopian Synaxarium page 20