Photo: drevo-info.ru The Pope of Rome strove by every possible means to bring the Orthodox East under his authority, and some of the Greek Emperors made concerted efforts to help him in that regard. Considering Holy Mt. Athos to be the bulwark of Orthodoxy, the Catholics wanted it to be first among the Orthodox sites to submit to the bishop of Rome. They came to the monasteries of the Holy Mountain, and sought through various means to persuade the monks to submit to Roman authority. While there were individual cases in which they met with success, the majority of monks resolutely denounced the papal zealots for assuming for themselves the rights to act as Christ’s governors-general.
The Lord Himself and His Most-holy Mother helped the monks to defend Orthodoxy. Thus, a certain Elder who carried on his spiritual struggle in seclusion near the Zographou Monastery was singing the Akathist to the Most-holy Theotokos before her Icon, when he suddenly heard a voice coming from the Icon: “Rejoice as well, O Elder of God!” The Elder shook with fear. The voice from the Icon continued, “Fear not, but go quickly to the monastery and tell the abbot and the brethren that the enemies of my Son and myself are already near. Let anyone whose the spirit of patience is weak hide himself until the temptation should pass. Let those who wish to have a martyr’s crown remain.” The Elder hurried, and just as he was entering the monastery, the Icon from which he had heard the voice appeared before him. The monk took It, and went to see the abbot. Then those among the brethren who considered themselves weak hid in the hills, while twenty-six monks, including the rector and the elder himself, remained, locking themselves up in the monastery tower. The Latins soon appeared. At first they tried to persuade the monks to unlock the monastery gates, promising them all sorts of benefits in return for their recognizing the Pope as head of the entire Church. From the tower, the monks replied, “For us, the head of the Church is Christ, and we would all rather die than allow you to forcibly sully the holiness of this place.” The Latins angrily responded, “Then die!” They stacked wood around the tower, and set it afire. Blessing God, the monks gave up their souls to Him. This took place on October 10, 1276. The Icon from which the elder had heard a voice was with the martyrs, and was later found, lying entirely unharmed, underneath the ashes.