Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday (April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. They began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos in 1959 and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom. These accounts form the basis of Photios Kontoglou’s 1962 book A GREAT SIGN (in Greek).
In 1453, Saint Nicholas was living in Macedonia with his fellow monastic, Saint Raphael. Deacon Nicholas was a native of Thessalonica. In 1454, the Turks invaded Thrace, so the two monks fled to the island of Lesbos. They settled in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos near Thermi, where Saint Raphael became the igumen.
In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery and captured the monks. They were tortured from Holy Thursday until Bright Tuesday. Saint Raphael was tied to a tree, and the ferocious Turks sawed through his jaw, killing him. Saint Nicholas was also tortured, and he died while witnessing his Elder’s martyrdom. He appeared to people and indicated the spot where his relics were uncovered on June 13, 1960.
Saint Nicholas is short and thin, with a small blond beard. He stands before Saint Raphael with great respect. Saint Irene usually appears with a long yellow dress reaching to her feet. Her blonde hair is divided into two braids which rest on either side of her chest.
Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene (and those with them) are also commemorated on Bright Tuesday. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has given a detailed account of their life, miracles, and spiritual counsels in Volume 10 of his inspirational series MODERN ORTHODOX SAINTS (Belmont, MA, 1990).