The Miraculous Icon in Vatopedi

Going up the stairs to the left of the central gate of the catholicon of the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi there is a chapel dedicated to Panagia Paramythia. After the performance of the miracle, which we will describe, the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, fresco of the 14th century, was transferred into it. which used to be on the right edge of the exonarthex.

In the past there was the custom, when the fathers left the Catholic Church, after the end of the Orthros service, to embrace the icon of the Virgin Mary that was in the exonarthex. There the Abbot gave the keys to the gate of the Monastery, which was closed for the evening hours, to the porter to open.

One year, at the beginning of the 14th century, on January 21, Orthros ended. The fathers retired to their cells to rest, until their daily ministrations began. Then the gate of the Monastery would be opened. They did not know that pirates were lurking outside it, – at that time it was a scourge in the Aegean sea -, who had surrounded it, ready to invade to destroy everything.

The Abbot was alone in the church, devoted to his prayer. He jumped suddenly hearing a voice, which did not sound like a human voice. Frightened, he looked around. He didn’t see any. Besides, no one was inside the temple. And yet someone spoke. He concentrated his attention and, full of fear, realized that the voice came from the image of Theodoros. Reverently he strained his ear to listen. He then heard the voice of the Virgin Mary saying: “Do not open the gate of the Monastery today, but after climbing the walls, chase away the pirates.”

Amazed, the Abbot fixed his eyes on the image of the Virgin. He then saw an amazing miracle.

The form of the Virgin Mary was alive. The baby Jesus she was holding in her arms also took life. He moved his right hand and closed the mouth of his holy Mother, turning his bright face towards her.

A sweet child’s voice was heard saying: “Don’t, Mother, don’t tell them. Let them be punished, as they deserve, for neglecting their solitary duties.’

Then the Lady Theotokos, with great motherly care towards her only Son, raised her hand slightly, held his little hand, tilted her holy face a little to the right and repeated more strongly: “Do not open the gate of the Monastery today, but after you have gone up on the walls, drive out the pirates…And look to repent, because my Son is angry with you.” He repeated the warning for the third time: “Today, do not open the gate of the Monastery…». After the dialogue, Our Lady and the Holy Child were again restored to her as an icon.

The Abbot, full of admiration, called together all the Fathers, told them the supernatural events that happened and repeated to them the words he had heard from the lips of the Virgin Mary and the Divine Child to his Mother.
Everyone turned in amazement towards the miraculous image. And their astonishment increased. The representation of the image had been transformed. The composition was completely changed and looked nothing like the old picture. The format as seen today was preserved. The Virgin should hold Christ’s hand under her mouth and tilt her head to the right to avoid it. Her facial expression is full of infinite mercy, love, sympathy and motherly affection. Although Christ is represented as an infant, he has a stern face as a Judge.

Panagia Paramythia – Holy Great Monastery of Vatopediou

This icon is indeed handmade, because it was made in the form it is today, not by human hands, but by the Grace of God, after the miraculous intervention of Our Lady to save the Monastery. She was called “Panagia Paramythia”, meaning Comforter. And rightly so, because as the pilgrims of the Monastery say, who can’t get enough of seeing it, the sight of the sweet expression on the face of the Virgin Mary rests, rests, calms and comforts the human soul.

With this miracle, the motherly devotion of the Mother of God is revealed once again in interceding for the sins of people “to her Son and God” and her saving embassies with which they are freed from the sufferings they justly deserve for the multitude of their sins.

The icon was transferred to the special chapel of Paramythia. In front of her, the monks keep a dormant candle, sing the Prayer every day and a Divine Liturgy is celebrated every Friday. In the past, it was customary for the monks to have their haircuts in this chapel. The life of Saint Neophytos is also connected with this icon, who was a “prisoner”, i.e. guardian and minister of the chapel of Paramythia.

The Saint was on mission and service on behalf of the Monastery for a period of time in one of its shares, in Evia. There he became seriously ill. He then begged the Virgin Mary to allow him to die in the monastery of his penance. He immediately heard the voice of the Virgin Mary saying to him: “Novitiate, go to your monastery and after a year prepare for your departure from life.” Profoundly thanking the Virgin Mary for the extension of life given to him, he told his subordinates to prepare for the return to the monastery.

Indeed, after the passage of a year, one day after he had received the Holy Mysteries, climbing the stairs in front of the Paramythia chapel, he again heard the voice of the Virgin Mary: “Newbie, the time of your exit has come”. When he went to his cell he made his will and after receiving forgiveness from all the fathers of the fraternity, he surrendered his spirit to the Lord.


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