St Eleni (who was also called Susanna), New martyr of Lesbos

Saint Eleni (who was also called Susanna) is one of the New Martyrs of Lesbos who are commemorated on Bright Tuesday. She was St. Irene’s older cousin, and suffered along with Sts Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene on April 9, 1463 (Bright Tuesday).

On November 12, 1961 Mrs Basilike Rallis had a dream in which she saw herself by the church at Karyes near the town of Thermi on the Greek island of Lesbos. As she looked inside the church, she saw a young girl about fourteen or fifteen years old, with a dark complexion and dark hair. Since the girl was praying, Mrs Rallis also began to pray. The girl turned to her and said, “Do you know who I am? I am a martyr. Not like Renoula (a diminutive form of Irene), of course, but if you only knew what I endured! I lived with the mayor’s family, and I was also with them when the Turks tortured them here. They mistreated me and gave me such a horrib le beating that I died from the pains. My name is Eleni.”

The saint also told Mrs Rallis about an icon of the Mother of God that she had been asking about, revealing to her the place where it would be found.

When she awoke, Mrs Rallis was reluctant to mention this dream to anyone. She said to herself, “If there really is another martyr named Eleni, I’ll see her again. Maybe

someone else will see her, too, then I’ll tell. But who was this Eleni who lived with the mayor’s family? Perhaps she was thei r servant.”

The next night, she dreamed that she was in the village church. She saw three clerics coming out through the left door of the altar. She made the Sign of the Cross at once, for she thought that Satan might be tempting her. Then ;she saw the three clerics make the Sign of the Cross, too. They looked at her and smiled as they slowly proceeded to the center of the church.

“I recognized St. Raphael and St. Nicholas right away,” Mrs Rallis recalled, “but did not know the other saint. He was tall, middle-aged with a long grey beard and a lordly air about him.”

At that moment, a girl with a round face came out by the same door. She was beautiful, and she wore a rose-colored dress. Mrs Rallis approached her and, kneeling before her, she asked, “Are you also a saint?”

“Yes,” the girl replied. “Sit down beside me, watch quietly and I will explain some things to you.”

Then other people began to come out from the same door and approached the saints. First, a man of medium height with civilian clothes and a long grey jacket. The girl said to Mrs Rallis, “The teacher, Theodore.” He was followed by another well-formed man. The saint said, “The mayor, Basil (St Irene’s father).” Then a tall, stout woman of about forty came forth with two girls whom Mrs Rallis recognized at once.They were Sts Irene and Eleni, of whom she had dreamt the night before.

The unknown saint who had appeared with Sts Raphael and Nicholas identified the tall woman as Maria, the mayor’s wife, and the two girls as Renoula and Eleni. He asked Mrs Rallis, “Why, when you dreamed abou t her last evening, did you say that you would not say anything about it to anyone? Eleni is also a martyr, and she wishes to be remembered. She was not the mayor’s servant, but his orphaned niece who lived with them. Her proper name, which she signed on papers, was Eleni. However, they also called her Susanna. She also had that name.”

Mrs Rallis slowly approached St Irene. She embraced her and began to weep, saying, “O Renoula, my tortured little girl, how could these heartless evil-doers burn you?” Then St Irene also started to cry.

When Mrs Rallis woke up, her eyes were filled with tears, and she thought that she would faint. So powerful was the dream that she later said, “Ah, that tortured child! How I ached for her! Every time I go to Karyes I will sit by her little tomb and I will mourn as if she were my own child. Just think, they tortured the child in front of her father, in front of her mother who bore her. It seems to me that there does not exist a

more terrible martyrdom for parents.”

The Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos are also commemorated on April 9. Detailed accounts of these saints may be found in A GREAT SIGN (in Greek) by Photios Kontoglou (Astir, 1964).