July 28th is the feast day of our venerable mother Irene of Chrysovalantou. This popular saint was born in Cappadocia during the 9th-century, and gave up the chance of royal marriage to join the Chrysovalantou convent eventually becoming its abbess. She can be recognized in icons by the the presence of some, or all, or the following:
- The clothing, and sometimes staff, of an abbess (see icon above).
- Three apples from Paradise, given to St. Irene by a sailor after being instructed by an apparition of St John the Apostle. The apples gave off a divinely sweet aroma, and were shared among the sisters of the convent.
- Bowing cypress trees, which recall a miracle observed three times by one of the nuns, who saw St Irene levitating during prayer whilst two cypress trees bent down before the abbess. The nun tied scarves to the bowed tips of the trees to prove to the other sisters the miracle had occurred. The scarves are usually shown tied to the trees, and the nun may also be shown spying on the Saint.
- An angel holding a scroll. This is the guardian angel of St Irene, who appeared to her after she prayed to foreknow the trials of her nun. The angel greeted her saying: “Hail, handmaiden of God, the Lord has sent me that more might be saved through your guidance. I am to remain at your side and disclose the events of the future.”
- An open scroll held by St Irene, written upon which is some of the preserved teachings and admonishments of the Saint.
- The Chrysovalantou convent may be shown in the background, especially if the bowing cypress tress are also shown.
- The inscription of her name: Οσία Ειρήνη Χρυσοβαλάντου (Greek); Saint (or Blessed) Irene Chrysovalantou (English); Святая (Св) Ирина Каппадокийская (Cyrillic); Sfanta (Sf) Irina Hrisovalant (Romanian)