When the fame of our Lord Jesus Christ came to Abgar, the ruler of Edessa, who
was suffering from leprosy, Abgar sent a messenger named Ananias, through
him asking the Savior to heal him of his disease, while bidding Ananias
bring back a depiction of Him. When Ananias came to Jerusalem, and
was unable to capture the likeness of our Lord, He, the Knower of hearts,
asked for water, and having washed His immaculate and divine face,
wiped it dry with a certain cloth, which He gave to Ananias to take
to Abgar; the form of the Lord's face had been wondrously printed upon
the cloth. As soon as Abgar received the cloth, which is called the
Holy Napkin (Mandylion), he reverenced it with joy, and was healed
of his leprosy; only his forehead remained afflicted. After the Lord's
Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, the Apostle Thaddaeus (see Aug.
21) came to Edessa, and when he had baptized Abgar and all his men, Abgar's remaining leprosy also was healed. Abgar had the holy image
of our Savior fixed to a board and placed at the city gate, commanding
that all who entered the city reverence it as they passed through.
Abgar's grandson, however, returned to the worship of the idols, and
the Bishop of Edessa learned of his intention to replace the Holy Napkin
with an idol. Since the place where it stood above the city gate was
a rounded hollow, he set a burning lamp before the Holy Napkin, put
a tile facing it, then bricked up the place and smoothed it over, so
that the holy icon made without hands was no longer to be seen, and
the ungodly ruler gave no further thought to it.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone:
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