Markella of Chios

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Markella of Chios icon found in the Church of St. Markella, Chios island - the place of her martyrdom

The holy and glorious Virgin-martyr Markella of Chios (also Marcella) is the patron saint of Chios and was born and lived in the village of Volissos of Chios. Her feast day is celebrated on July 22.


Markella was born and lived in the village of Volissos of Chios and lived during the fourteenth century. Her mother was a devout christian but her father, who was mayor of the village, was an idolater. At a young age, her mother passed away, but not before she had taught Markella the ways of the Lord. While her father saw to her education, she continued to live in faith and virtue, dedicating herself to Jesus Christ. She studied the Holy Bible and spent many hours in prayer. She practiced the virtues of fasting, love, hospitality and chastity. She avoided idle interactions so that she would not come to spiritual harm. Her goal was to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ.

St Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and attending church services. She tried to keep the commandments and to lead others to God. She loved and respected her father, and comforted him in his sorrow. She told him she would take care of him in his old age, and would not abandon him.

As an adult, St Markella was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. Her father, moved by the evil one began to have sinful desires for Markella. By the time she had reached her eighteenth birthday, her father's desires had begun to show and so Markella decided to leave from her father's house in order to preserve her purity. She went to a nearby mountain and hid in a bush. Her father found her, with the help of a local shepherd, and then set fire to the bush to force her to show. It is said that the shepherd's hand with which he pointed out Markella's hiding spot immediately began to tremble.

Location where the blood of the martyr appears annually marking the spot on which she was wounded

Markella ran to the sea to escape but her father aimed an arrow at her and wounded her. The blood of the saint dyed the rocks and to this very day, during the festivities for her feast day, at a specific time, her blood becomes visible on these rocks for all the faithful who bear witness to this miracle.

Her final moments were spent in prayer to Christ with a request that the rocks would open for her to hide from her father. She was enclosed in the rock, with only her chest and head visible. Upon finding her, filled with evil frenzy, her father butchered her body and then cut off her head and threw it into the sea. Her head floated to the nearby beach of Komi. For many years, the locals could not locate the head until one day an Italian Naval ship was in the area. In the evening, they could see a bright light coming from the distance and when they got closer they witnessed a head, floating in the water, lit by upright floating candles. Immediately, they realised that this was a sacred miracle they were witness to and they took the head of the Saint back to their homeland.

Final resting place of St. Markella
Shrine opposite the tomb

Holy water is said to spring from the rocks that mark her martyrdom. Many pilgrims visit this location and every year on the 22nd of July, during the commemoration services for the Saint, the holy sea water in the rock pool boils during the entire Paraklisis Service; this phenomenon only occurs in the presence of a priest. If a pilgrim's faith is strong, a local tradition is that the water in the rock-pool will feel extremely warm to touch.



Rose of piety and sprout of Chios, we honour with canticles Saint Markella who was beheaded by her father's hand, as she guarded the commands of Christ, give strength and save from danger, us who cry unto you. Glory to Him who gave you strength, glory to Him who crowned you. Glory to Him who works through you, healings for all the faithful.

See also

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