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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Posted in History, News, Special Icons, The Theotokos | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

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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Irene Chrysovalantou | Quick guide

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou (Ειρήνη Χρυσοβαλάντου)

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou (Ειρήνη Χρυσοβαλάντου)

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)
Venerable Irene of Chrysovalantou

Venerable Irene of Chrysovalantou

Brief hagiography of Irene Chrysovolantou

More detailed biography from Mystagogy

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