Icon of the Mother of God "Comfort" or "Consolation"
Commemorated on January 21
The Vatopedi “Comfort” or “Consolation” Icon of the Mother of God is in the old Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, in the Church of the Annunciation. It was called “Vatopedi” because near this monastery Arcadius, the son of Emperor Theodosius the Great, fell off a ship into the sea, and by the miraculous intercession of the Mother of God he was carried to shore safe and unharmed. He was found sleeping by a bush, not far from the monastery. From this event the name “Vatopedi” (“the bush of the child”) is derived. The holy Emperor Theodosius the Great, in gratitude for the miraculous deliverance of his son, embellished and generously endowed the Vatopedi Monastery.
On the Vatopedi Icon, the Mother of God is depicted with Her face turned towards Her right shoulder. This is because on January 21, 807, She turned Her face towards the abbot of the monastery, who was standing near the holy icon, about to hand the keys of the monastery to the porter. A voice came from the icon and warned him not to open the monastery gates, because pirates intended to pillage the monastery. The Holy Child then placed His hand over His Mother’s lips, saying, “Do not watch over this sinful flock, Mother, but let them fall under the sword of the pirates.” The Holy Virgin took the hand of Her Son and said again, “Do not open the gates today, but go to the walls and drive off the pirates.” The abbot took precautionary measures, and the monastery was saved.
In memory of this miraculous event, a perpetual lamp burns in front of this wonderworking icon. Every day a Canon of Supplication is chanted in honor of the icon, and on Fridays the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. On Mt. Athos, this icon is called “Paramythia,” “Consolation” (“Otrada”), or “Comfort” (“Uteshenie”).
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)