Theotokos, Consolation of Vatopedi
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- Item #: X211
The ancient monastery of Vatopedi was located on the seashore of Mt. Athos and therefore was subject to frequent attacks by pirates. These marauders were Arabs, Catalans, Turks and others who managed to penetrate its fortress walls. On many of these occasions the monastery was defended by the Mother of God herself, the Abbess of Mt. Athos. (See No. 1 in Vol.I) Back in Byzantine times the monks of Vatopedi had the custom of leaving the catholicon after the early service to venerate a fourteenth century fresco of the Mother of God located in the narthex. One day as the abbot was giving the keys to the sacristan to open the gates of the monastery, he heard a voice from the icon, “Do not open the gates of the monastery today but go up to the walls and drive off the pirates.” The abbot turned to the icon and saw that it became animated. The Christ Child put His hand over the mouth of His Mother and said, ”Do not watch, Mother, over this sinful flock. Let it pass under the sword of the pirates, for its transgressions have multiplied.” But the Mother of God turned Her face and reaching up to restrain the hand of her Child, repeating her injunction. The abbot quickly informed the brethren what he witnessed, and the monks rushed up onto the walls. Thanks to the firm compassion of the Mother of God, the monastery was saved. The figures on the icon were preserved in their changed positions as a constant reminder of the miracle. From this it was given the name of “Consolation “ of Vatopedi. In 1687, a special chapel was built for the icon in the outer narthex and the divine liturgy is celebrated every Friday and the Supplicatory Canon is chanted daily. In 1997 a four-hundred year old copy of this icon located in the Kykko Monastery on the island of Cyprus, began to weep. (See No. 73) This was regarded by many Greek Cypriots as a sign of impending danger and on one Sunday it attracted twenty thousand pilgrims. They were led by the local archbishop in supplicatory prayer before this icon for their forgiveness and preservation from evil, and for help in their struggle for liberation from the Turks.