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This miraculous icon was made about 1600 and resides now as before at Holy Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. The position of the Lord’s and the Virgin’s hands tell us a vivid and instructive story of love, protection, and a call to repentance.
Tradition at the monastery relates that as the abbot was handing over the keys of the monastery to the monk doorkeeper one morning, the Virgin spoke from the icon warning the abbot to not open the doors but have the monks climb up on the monastery’s walls to repel the pirates who had surrounded it. She repeated this again, and when the abbot turned towards the icon, the Holy Infant extended His hand to cover her mouth, indicating that they were bad monks, and maybe shouldn’t be saved, but the Virgin held His hand and warned the abbot again. The hands show the Virgin and the Lord not as it was painted, but as this miracle took place.
What does this mean for us? We often are careless, negligent, and leave ourselves unguarded against evil which can lurk just outside our awareness. Although we do not deserve mercy, God and His Mother love us and will help us if we just try to ask.
|Church Feast Day 1
Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece
17th c. (Early)