Martyr Michael “the Black-Robed” of St Sava Monastery

Hieromartyr Michael the Black-Robed lived in the ninth century, and came from the city of Edessa (Mesopotamia) of Christian parents. He was a zealous disciple of St Theodore of Edessa (July 9). He distributed to the poor the inheritance left him by his parents, then went to Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places.

Jerusalem at the time was under the control of the Mohammedans. St Michael remained in Palestine and settled in the monastery of St Sava. Once, he was sent from the monastery to Jerusalem to sell goods for the monks. At the marketplace, the eunuch of the Mohammedan empress Seida, seeing that the monastery goods were both fine and well-made, took him along to the empress.

The young monk caught the fancy of the empress, who tried to lead him into sin, but her intent proved to be in vain. Then by order of the enraged Seida they beat the monk with rods, and then accused him of being an enemy of Islam.

Having interrogated the monk, the emperor began to urge him to accept the Moslem faith, but St Michael answered, “I implore you, either send me back to the monastery to my instructor, or be baptized in our Christian Faith, or cut off my head, and then I shall go to Christ my God.” The emperor gave the saint a cup with deadly poison, which St Michael drank and remained unharmed. After this the emperor gave orders to cut off his head.

The death of the martyr occurred in Jerusalem, but the monks of the monastery of St Sava took the body of the saint to their Lavra and buried it there with reverence. At the beginning of the twelfth century the relics of the holy martyr were seen there by Daniel, the igumen of the Kiev Caves monastery, while on pilgrimage to the Holy Places.