The Dormition of the Theotokos — Part 10: A Jewish Priest Dares to Touch the Bier and is Converted
During the procession there was also present a Jewish priest by the name of Athonios. When the cloud protecting the faithful had lifted and he was able to see the Apostles and the faithful chanting in joyful procession, he filled with envy. With great malice in his heart he charged straight towards the bier in a mad fury. Running up to the bier he was going to attempt to cast the body of the Theotokos to the ground. When his hands had barely touched the couch, and invisible angel struck them off at the elbow. The malicious hands of the Athonios clung fast to the bier while he writhed in pain exclaiming, “woe is me!” The Hews that beheld this sight of their priest then cried out, “Verily He that was brought forth by thee is the true God, O Mother of God, Ever-Virgin Mary!”
Acknowledging his sin, Athonios repented and turned to the holy Apostles and said, “Have mercy on me, servants of Christ!” Peter then ordered the procession to stop. Then Peter said to Athonios, “Now thou hast received thy just fruits. Know that ‘the Lord is the God of vengeance; the God of vengeance hath spoken openly’ and, thus, we cannot heal thee of thy wounds. Only our Lord Himself can do this, Who you had unjustly rose up against, seized and killed. Even He will not bestow healing upon thee till thou wilt believe in Him with all thy heart and confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the true Messiah, the Son of God”
Athonios cried aloud, “I believe that He is the Saviour of the world foretold by the prophets! He is the God, but being darkened with malicious envy, we did not acknowledge the greatness of God openly, but delivered Him to death, though He was guiltless. But by the power of His divinity He arose on the third day, putting us all to shame. We attempted to conceal His Resurrection by bribing the soldiers, but we could no nothing, as the glory of the Resurrection was manifest and spread abroad”
Upon this confession of Athonios and statement of faith, the faithful rejoiced. Peter ordered Athonios to place the wounds of his severed arms to the limbs hanging on the bier. He then told him to call on the most holy Mother of God with faith. Athonios did as he was instructed and at once the severed arms were joined at the mark where they had been severed and only a red line remained about his elbows.
Athonios then fell down at the bier praising Christ God who was born of the Virgin Mary. He then also began to recite words from the prophecies which testified to both the Virgin Mary and Christ. Athonios joined the procession, following behind the bed with the other Christians. He was later baptized.
Upon this occurrence, many of the jews who had tried to attack the procession and lost their sight also repented, approached the bier, and when touched with the blessed palm from paradise received their sight once more.