Icon of the Theotokos “Abbess of Mount Athos” – T17

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This is one of the few icons in which the Virgin is shown  without the Divine Infant.  Here we behold her in monastic garb, wearing an abbatial mandyas (mantle) and carrying a paterisa (crozier or staff) as she is borne on clouds above the Holy Mountain of Athos, which is called the Garden of the Panagia (All-Pure).  On her mantle are depicted the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  The star on her forehead and the two stars on her shoulders represent her virginity before, during, and after bearing the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The lower right hand corner of the icon recalls her first visit to Athos when she was journeying to Cyprus to visit Saint Lazarus (of the Four Days Dead).  The ship was blown off course and anchored at Mount Athos.  The Holy Virgin came ashore and the many idols and temples of demons there toppled and crashed down at once.  She blessed the peninsula saying, “Let this spot be my portion; here let me abide.”  She then re-embarked and returned to her home near the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  The tradition is that she is the only woman allowed there since then.

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Church Feast Day 1





Egg Tempera


20th c. (Late)