Lent 2015

The Publican and the Pharisee, Kosovo, 14th Century.

The Publican and the Pharisee, Kosovo, 14th Century.

February 1 marks the beginning of the Lenten Triodion (the period of preparation before Easter) with the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. This is a reminder for any readers that there is a page on the Icons for Lent on this site, and a reminder for me that I really should update the blog this Lent with some appropriate posts for Holy Week!

A joyous fast to everyone!

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The Saint who always carried an icon of the Saviour

Anton of Martqopi, the Stylite

Anton of Martqopi, the Stylite

January 19th celebrates the memory of a Georgian saint: Venerable Anton of Martqopi, the Stylite. He is one of the Thirteen Syrian Fathers who settled in Georgia during the 6th century to preach the Gospel and are credited with establishing monasticism in Georgia. St Anton was known for always carrying with him an icon of the Saviour “not made by hands”, and it is notable that the monks who came to Georgia to evangelize would use icons for this purpose. Indeed, the original “not-made-by-hands” icon was instrumental in bringing about the conversion of Edessa.

A pagan nobleman who encountered the saint holding the icon and surrounded by deer (closeness to wild animals being a feature of many ascetic saints) was driven by fear to have the icon removed from Anton by chopping off his hands. This was miraculously prevented and this event helped in convincing many of the truth of Christianity.

After establishing monasteries, St Anton spent the last years of his life in seclusion, retreating into the wilderness and living atop a pillar (from where he gets his title of Stylite), although he could not prevent many people coming to him with petitions and seeking advice. After his repose, St Anton was buried in the monastery he founded – still holding onto the icon of his Saviour.

A brief life of St Anton the Stylite.

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Wonder working Icon of the Theotokos thwarts thieves

Panagia Giatrissa (All-Holy Virgin the Healer) Icon of Loutraka

Panagia Giatrissa (All-Holy Virgin the Healer) Icon of Loutraka

The Panagia Giatrissa Icon (All-Holy Virgin “the Healer”) is a well-known wonder-working image in Greece. In the early hours of December 24th 2014, another miracle was added to the list attributed to the holy icon.

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Weeping Icons in Ukraine and Russia

Weeping icons of the Mother of God (left) and St Anne (right)

Over the past couple of days, a number of websites have been linking to an article I posted a couple of years ago, quoting Fr Seraphim Rose’s words on why icons of the Mother of God weep. The reason for this is because of uncorroborated stories appearing in a Polish paper reporting dozens of icons weeping in both Russia and Ukraine.

Many of these websites are rather “apocalyptic” in tone and are regarding these miracles as a portent of how the Crimean crisis may escalate into full-scale war (simultaneously fulfilling so-called prophecies of Fatima). It’s worth noting that the icons have not begun weeping in the past few days, or even this year, but in fact began to weep in September last year (as described here). Therefore, the weeping icons preceded the protests in Kiev and the current situation, and may have warned about what has now happened, rather than anything worse to come.

However, amid the article linked to by so many websites recently are the most important words regarding this and every situation:

What is certain is [the] tears of the Mother of God speak directly to the heart of every Orthodox believer, calling all to repentance, amendment of life and return to Orthodox faith and tradition in their fullness.

As we are beginning the rigors of the Lenten fast, let us take the tears of the Mother of God as a reminder to repent ourselves, praying also that fellow Christians in Russia, Ukraine and worldwide may act wisely and in the fear of God.

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Why does John the Baptist have wings in Orthodox icons?

St John the Baptist "Angel of the Desert" (17th Century, Russian)

St John the Baptist, Angel of the Desert (17th Century, Russian)

August 29th is the day that commemorates the Beheading of John the Baptist. Why is this Saint, almost uniquely, shown in many icons with wings?
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Happy Feast of the Transfiguration 2013

Transfiguration, Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery, Russia (1497)

August 6/19 is the feast of the Transfiguration. Below are links to two articles about the Transfiguration icon. The articles also contain links to sermons and other resources related to the feast.

Transfiguration Icon | The Event and the Process

Who’s in the Transfiguration Icon?

You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend.
Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos.
O Giver of light, glory to You.

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The snakes that venerate icons

Icon of Panagia Fidousa (Virgin of the Snakes)

Icon of Panagia Fidousa (Virgin of the Snakes)

In a tiny Greek village in the south of Kefallonia, a miracle occurs every year after the feast of the Transfiguration (Aug 6). Around the bell-tower of the chapel at Markopoulo, small venomous snakes appear. These snakes crawl around the church, and upon the icons of the Mother of God in an act of apparent veneration. The snakes remain in the confines of the chapel, docile throughout, until the feast of the Dormition (Aug 15), when they disperse and become almost impossible to find on the island. This is a strange miracle, especially given the association of the serpent with Satan, so what is the significance?
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