Icon of the Virgin ” Softening of evil hearts “(Simeon’s prophecy)

Icon of the Virgin ” Softening of evil hearts “(Simeon’s prophecy)

Days of celebration: February 3
Not far from the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, founded in 395 during the reign of Constantine the Great, an amazing event took place. During a violent storm, Tsarevich Arkady, the son of Emperor Theodosius the Great, fell overboard into the sea. Everyone assumed he was dead. However, not far from Vatopedi, where the monastery was located, Arkady’s companions saw him sleeping under the shade of one of the coastal bushes. When the prince woke up, he told how he was miraculously saved by the Virgin from certain death. In honor of this event, the monastery was given the name “Vatopedi,” which means “boy’s bush.” Emperor Theodosius the Great, having learned about the miraculous salvation of his son, in gratitude not only developed and enriched the Vatopedi Monastery, but also gave the monastery an icon of the Mother of God created from mastic. This icon was named “Ktitorskaya” (or “Vimatarissa” and “Altarpiece”) to mark the emperor’s contribution to the construction and decoration of the monastery. The Ktitor icon was placed in the upper part of the altar of the Cathedral Church of the Annunciation. In 862, when the Arabs invaded the Holy Mount Athos, threatening destruction and plunder, Hierodeacon Savva Vimataris (Altarnik), wanting to save the shrines from desecration, hid the Ktitor icon and the sacred Cross in a well under the altar. Then he went into captivity. The captive spent many years in captivity, but his soul was always drawn to the Holy Mountain, where he served the Lord. After many years, he was finally released. When he returned to Mount Athos, he saw that the majestic Vatopedi Monastery had turned into ruins. He joined a small number of monks who were rebuilding the monastery. During the restoration, he remembered where he had hidden the Ktitor icon and Cross, and asked to raise one of the marble slabs of the altar. Under it, the monks actually found an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and a life-giving Cross. The candle was still burning in front of them. This candle still burns tirelessly in front of the Ktitor Icon of the Mother of God. The monks carefully support it, adding wax to preserve it from generation to generation. Due to the fact that both shrines were found on Monday, the Vatopedi monastery has since held a weekly solemn prayer service in front of the Mother of God in the cathedral, and the next day a solemn liturgy is held with the blessing of koliv and the offering of a part of the prosphora in honor of the Mother of God. This tradition has been going on for more than a thousand years and confirms the truth of the events recorded in the legends of the Vatopedi monastery. The Ktitor icon is now located in the upper part of the altar of the cathedral church.

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