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The Life of Our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt

READER: The Life of our Holy Mother Mary of Egypt. Master, bless.

PRIEST: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

READER: Amen.

"It is good to hide the secret of a king, but it is glorious to reveal and preach the works of God." (Tobit 12:7) So said the Archangel Raphael to Tobit when he performed the wonderful healing of his blindness. Actually, not to keep the secret of a king is perilous and a terrible risk, but to be silent about the works of God is a great loss for the soul. And I (says St. Sophronios), in writing the life of St. Mary of Egypt, am afraid to hide the works of God by silence. Remembering the misfortune threatened to the servant who hid his God-given talent in the earth (Mat. 25:18-25), I am bound to pass on the holy account that has reached me. And let no one think (continues St. Sophronios) that I have had the audacity to write untruth or doubt this great marvel --may I never lie about holy things! If there do happen to be people who, after reading this record, do not believe it, may the Lord have mercy on them because, reflecting on the weakness of human nature, they consider impossible these wonderful things accomplished by holy people.

But now we must begin to tell this most amazing story, which has taken place in our generation. There was a certain elder in one of the monasteries of Palestine, a priest of the holy life and speech, who from childhood had been brought up in monastic ways and customs. This elder's name was Zosimas. He had been through the whole course of the ascetic life and in everything he adhered to the rule once given to him by his tutors as regard spiritual labors. He had also added a good deal himself whilst laboring to subject his flesh to the will of the spirit. And he had not failed in his aim. He was so renowned for his spiritual life that many came to him from neighboring monasteries and some even from afar. While doing all this, he never ceased to study the Divine Scriptures. Whether resting, standing, working or eating food (if the scraps he nibbled could be called food), he incessantly and constantly had a single aim: always to sing of God, and to practice the teaching of the Divine Scriptures. Zosimas used to relate how, as soon as he was taken from his mother's breast, he was handed over to the monastery where he went through his training as an ascetic till he reached the age of 53. After that, he began to be tormented with the thought that he was perfect in everything and needed no instruction from anyone, saying to himself mentally, "Is there a monk on earth who can be of use to me and show me a kind of asceticism that I have not accomplished? Is there a man to be found in the desert who has surpassed me?" Thus thought the elder, when suddenly an angel appeared to him and said: "Zosimas, valiantly have you struggled, as far as this is within the power of man, valiantly have you gone through the ascetic course. But there is no man who has attained perfection. Before you lie unknown struggles greater than those you have already accomplished. That you may know how many other ways lead to salvation, leave your native land like the renowned patriarch Abraham and go to the monastery by the River Jordan."

St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America

imageThe repose of St. Tikhon is celebrated on April 7.

"The more I study the history of the Orthodox Church in this country, the more I am convinced that our work here is God's work; that God himself is helping us . . . we have to guard sacredly the Orthodox faith, to stand firm in it, disregarding the fact that we live in a non-Orthodox country; not giving heed to opinions one hears, such as: 'This is not the Old Country, here. This is a free land.' Therefore, supposedly, we may not have to observe everything that the Church requires. As if the Word of God is suitable only for the Old Country and not for the whole world. As if the Church of Christ is not catholic! As if the Orthodox Faith is not the one that 'sustains the universe!'" - from St. Tikhon's 1907 Speech to the All-American Council in Mayfield, Pennsylvania

Learn more about this great saint of the Church in North America.

April 9, 2008 + The Fellowship of His Suffering

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From: The Fellowship Of His Suffering

By Archpriest Michael Boroudy

Word Magazine, April 1959

[…] During the Lenten season, we are to concern ourselves with Christ’s suffering in order that we might become fellow-sufferers with Him, learn more of the Christian way of life and so become mature Christians, growing into a full stature of godliness. St. Paul expressed it beautifully when, speaking of his Savior and ours, said, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.”

Taking the above statement as the basis for our sermon, we discover that it contains the central message of our holy religion, a declaration unexcelled by any of the other disciples for depth of meaning and significance. Paul here declares that, a full and mature knowledge of Jesus as Savior had two very essential requirements, a fellowship in Jesus’ suffering and the power of His resurrection.

Memory Eternal, Fr. John Kahle

The V. Rev. John Kahle, the retired pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pa., departed this life on April 6. (St. Paul's is part of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.)

The schedule of services for Fr. John follows.  All services will occur at St. Paul's in Emmaus:

Thursday night (April 10) @ 7 PM:  Priest's Funeral Service

Friday morning (April 11) @ 10 AM:  Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts in the presence of Fr. John, followed by the General Funeral Service.  The internment will follow these services.

Letters of condolence may be sent to his family at 172 Harrison St., Emmaus, PA 18049.

Please remember Fr. John in your prayers.  May his memory be eternal.

About Fr. John

Father John Kahle was born July 19, 1928, in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, to James and Rachel (Ludwig) Kahle. He attended the elementary and high schools in his home town, and graduated Class Orator in 1946.

After serving four years with the United States Army, he began a 14 year career with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., serving as Supervisor of Plant Safety, Plant Planning Manager, and Manufacturing and Engineering Estimator. In 1964 he left Air Products and opened Kahle's Music Store in Emmaus, which he owned and operated with his family until 1995 when he retired from business.

Icon of the Mother of God "Seeker of the Lost"

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Commemorated on February 5

From time immemorial, the Russian people, with faith in the all-powerful help of the Most Holy Theotokos, considered the title “Seeker of the Perishing” to refer not only to those who were dying, but to those whose souls were in danger of spiritual death.

There are no reliable accounts of the origin of the icon, “Seeker of the Perishing.” There are, however, several wonderworking icons of this name, through which the Theotokos showed forth Her mercy to people on the very brink of death.

In the mid-eighteenth century, in the village of Bor, Russia, a pious peasant, Thedotus Obukhov, lost his way in a blizzard on the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism. His horse became exhausted and paused on the edge of an impassable ravine. Not seeing any way to save himself, Obukhov lay down in his sleigh, where he began to freeze to death.

In these terrible moments, he prayed with all his being to the Queen of Heaven for help, and he vowed that if he was rescued he would have a “Seeker of the Perishing” icon painted and donate it to the local church. She heard his prayer and helped him. A certain peasant in the nearby village heard a voice outside his window saying, “Take him.” He went out, saw the half-frozen Obukhov on his sleigh, took him into his home, and nursed him back to health. When he recovered, Obukhov immediately fulfilled his vow and commissioned a copy of the icon from the Church of St. George in the city of Bolkhov. From that time, the Bor “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon was glorified by many manifestations of grace and miracles.

St. Marana of Syria

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Commemorated on February 27

St. Marana and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and the city when they had reached maturity.

Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements.

They wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting.

The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his “Religiosa Historia.” Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Bishop Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. However, when Bishop Theodoret left, they resumed wearing the chains.

St. Kyra of Syria

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Commemorated on February 28

St. Marana and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and the city when they had reached maturity.

Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements.

They wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting.

The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his “Religiosa Historia.” Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Bishop Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. However, when Bishop Theodoret left, they resumed wearing the chains.

St. Domnica of Syria

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Commemorated on February 28

St. Domnica was a Syrian nun, and a companion of Sts. Marana and Kyra, who are also celebrated on this day.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Gorgonia, sister of St. Gregory the Theologian

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Commemorated on February 23

St. Gorgonia, the sister of St. Gregory the Theologian, was distinguished for her great virtue, piety, meekness, sagacity, and toil. Her house was a haven for the poor.

The mother of five children, she died around the year 372 at the age of thirty-nine. Her last words were, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep” (Psalm 4:8).

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Erkengota, Virgin of Faremoutier-en-Brie

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Commemorated on February 21 (also on February 26)

St. Erkengota was a daughter of Erconbert, King of Kent, England, and his wife Sexburga, later Abbess of Ely.

She became a nun with her aunts Ethelburga of Faremoutier and Saethrith in the double monastery of Faremoutier-en-Brie. Unlike them, she never became abbess, but died comparatively young. She visited the aged nuns to say farewell and ask for their prayers.

At the moment of her death, angelic visitors arrived in the monastery. She was buried in the church of St. Stephen nearby. The balsam-like scent from her grave three days later was believed to attest to her sanctity.

At Faremoutier and Ely, her feast is celebrated on February 21, while the diocese of Meaux celebrates it on February 26.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God of Kozelshchansk

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Commemorated on February 21

The Kozelshchansk Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the late nineteenth century, though it is older than that. This icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of Empress Elizabeth’s maids of honor. The owner of the icon married a records clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, and the icon traveled to the Ukraine with them.

During the nineteenth century, the icon belonged to the family of Count Vladimir Kapnist in the village of Kozelchina, and was one of their sacred possessions. During Cheesefare Week in 1880, Maria, the daughter of Count Kapnist, dislocated some bones in her foot. The local doctor said the problem was not serious. Dr. Grube, a noted surgeon in Kharkov, agreed with the diagnosis, and applied a plaster cast to Maria’s foot. He also prescribed hot baths and iron supplements. To lessen the discomfort of the foot while walking, a special shoe was made with metal bands that went around the girl’s leg. Great Lent passed, but Maria did not feel any relief.

After Pascha, Maria’s other foot became twisted. Both her shoulders and then her left hip became dislocated, and she developed pain in her spine. The doctor recommended that Count Kapnist take his daughter to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey and the treatments caused even greater afflictions. Maria lost all feeling in her hands and feet, and did not even feel it when she was pinched.

St. Philothea the Monastic

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Commemorated on February 19

The Monastic Martyr Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Syriga and Angelos Benizelos, were renowned not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply devout. Often, the kind-hearted Syriga had implored the Most Holy Theotokos for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and a daughter was born to the couple. They named her Revoula.

The parents raised their daughter in deep piety, and when she was twelve years old, they gave her away in marriage. Her husband turned out to be a cruel man, who often beat and tormented his wife. Revoula patiently endured the abuse and prayed to God that He might bring her husband to his senses.

After three years, Revoula’s husband died, and she began to labor in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women’s monastery in the name of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. When the monastery was completed, she was the first to accept monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea.

During this time, Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke, and many Athenians had been turned into slaves by their Turkish conquerors. St. Philothea utilized all her means to free her fellow countrywomen, ransoming many from servitude. Once, four women ran away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they renounce their Christianity, and took refuge in the monastery of St. Philothea.

St. Apphia, the Martyr of the Seventy

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Commemorated on February 19

Sts. Archippus, Philemon and Apphia, Apostles of the Seventy, were students and companions of the holy Apostle Paul. In the Epistle to Philemon, the Apostle Paul names St. Archippus as his companion, and mentions him again in the Epistle to the Colossians (Col. 4:17).

St. Archippus was the bishop of the city of Colossae in Phrygia. St. Philemon was an eminent citizen of this city, and the Christians gathered in his home to celebrate church services. He was also made a bishop by St. Paul, and he went about the cities of Phrygia, preaching the Gospel. Later on, he became archpastor of the city of Gaza. St. Apphia, his wife, took the sick and vagrants into her home, zealously attending to them. She was her husband’s co-worker in proclaiming the Word of God.

During the persecution against Christians under Emperor Nero (54-68), the holy Apostles Archippus and Philemon and Apphia were brought to trial for confessing their faith in Christ. St. Archippus was brutally slashed with knives. After torture, they buried Sts. Philemon and Apphia up to the waist in the ground, and stoned them until they died.

Troparion (Tone 4) –

O holy apostle Apphia,

Intercede with our merciful God

That He may grant to our souls

The forgiveness of our sins.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God of Cyprus

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Commemorated on February 19 (also on April 20 & July 9)

In this icon. the Mother of God is depicted sitting on a throne with the Divine Infant in Her arms. There is an angel on either side of Her.

The prototype of this holy icon manifested itself in 392 on the island of Cyprus at the tomb of Righteous Lazarus, the friend of Christ, and is kept there in a monastery. Renowned copies of the Cyprus Icon are at Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral, and in the Nikolo-Golutvin Church in the village of Stromyn outside of Moscow.

During the week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the Greek Synaxarion has an account of an icon which is probably the Cyprus Icon. On the island of Cyprus, a certain Arab was passing by a church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos. In order to display his hatred for Christianity, the man shot an arrow at an icon of the Mother of God which hung by the gate. The arrow struck the Virgin’s face, from which blood began to flow. Overcome with fear, the Arab spurred his horse and rode for home, but was struck dead before he could get there. In this way, he was punished for his impiety.

Other days commemorating the Cyprus Icon are the Day of the Holy Spirit, April 20, and July 9. Some copies of the Cyprus Icon have additional names such as “Cleansing,” “Knife,” and “Hawk.”

St. Mariamne, Sister of Apostle Philip

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Commemorated on February 17

Righteous Mariamne, “The Apostolic Virgin” and sister of the holy Apostle Philip, made a vow of virginity and became the companion of her brother Philip and the holy Apostle Bartholomew, actively assisting them in their apostolic work.

The Church historian Nicephorus Callistus describes their successfully preaching in the Phrygian city of Hieropolis, where they were arrested and locked in prison. St. Philip was put to death on a cross, but St. Mariamne and St. Bartholomew were set free.

St. Bartholomew went on to preach the Gospel in India.

After burying the body of St. Philip, St. Mariamne preached the Gospel at Lykaonia (Asia Minor). She died there in peace.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God Weeping "Tikhvin" at Mt. Athos

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Commemorated on February 17

The Weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is to be found behind the altar in the Prophet Elias Skete. On February 17, 1877 (Thursday of the Second Week of Lent), seven monks remained in the church after the Hours had been read. They were astonished to see tears flowing from the right eye of the icon, and collecting on the frame. A single large tear then came from the left eye.

The monks wiped the tears from the icon’s face and left the church, locking the doors behind them. Three hours later, they returned for Vespers and saw traces of tears on the icon, and a single tear in the left eye. Again, they wiped the tears from the icon, but they did not reappear.

Regarding this manifestation of tears as a sign of mercy from the Mother of God, the monks established an annual commemoration of the icon on February 17.

The Weeping Tikhvin Icon of Mt. Athos is not to be confused with the original wonderworking Tikhvin Icon (June 26).

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Mother Kypriane, Abbess of Holy Angels Convent

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Commemorated on February 15

Reverend Mother Kypriane (†February 15, 2000) was the foundress and first Abbess of the Holy Angels Convent, and is buried at the Cathedral of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco in San Francisco, California.

By permission of www.orthodoxwiki.org

Icon of the Mother of God of Vilnius

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Commemorated on February 15 (also on April 14)

This icon is from Vilnius (or Vilna), Lithuania, and depicts the Most Holy Theotokos by Herself with hands crossed over Her breast. She is crowned, and there is a circle of stars around Her head.

The Vilnius Icon is also commemorated on April 14.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God of Dormition-Dalmatov

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Commemorated on February 15

The Dalmatian Icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos is from the Dormition-Dalmatov Monastery in the Province of Perm, Russia.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

Icon of the Mother of God "Vilno"

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Commemorated on February 14

According to local tradition, the Vilenskaya Icon was written by the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. Elena, daughter of John III Vasilievitch, unifier of Russia, brought the Icon to Vilno in token of her parents’ blessing, on the occasion of her marriage in 1495 to Alexander, Prince of Lithuania.

After Elena’s death, the Icon was installed in the Church of the All-Holy, in which Elena had been interred. Later, the Icon was translated to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Vilno, where it remained until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In a men’s monastery near Vilno, another Vilno Icon of the Mother of God appeared in 1341. On that Icon, the Mother of God was pictured at full length, standing upon a depiction of the moon, with angels holding a crown over her head.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Zoe

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Commemorated on February 13

As a young girl, Zöe was a prostitute and a temptress. When she saw St. Martinian leap into the fire in order to subdue in himself all lust, she bitterly repented, retreating to a convent in Bethlehem where, as an ascetic and recluse, she heroically lived a life of mortification. Repenting of all her sins, she received from God the gift of working miracles.

By the winds of the sea, St. Photina was cast on the island where St. Martinian had earlier isolated himself. Photina remained there in fasting and prayer, along with Zöe, where they later died.

By permission of the www.orthodoxwiki.org

St. Priscilla, with her husband, Aquila, at Ephesus

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Commemorated on February 13

St. Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, were Jews from Pontus who settled in Rome, where they worked as tent-makers.

When the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50, Priscilla and Aquila moved to Corinth. (They may already have been Christians; at that time the Empire made no distinction between Christians and Jews.) In Corinth, they became friends with the Apostle Paul, who lived and worked with them for a period of time (Acts 18:1-3). They also traveled with Paul and were considered worthy to bring Apollos to a full knowledge of the Faith (Acts 18:26).

Priscilla and Aquila returned to Rome around 58, and later went to Ephesus. They were living there when St. Paul asked his disciple Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to greet them (2 Tim. 4:19). It was probably in Ephesus that they were martyred by the pagans.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)

St. Ermenhilda, Abbess of Ely Monastery, England

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Commemorated on February 13 (also on October 17)

St. Ermenhilda was the Queen of Mercia and abbess of Ely in England. She was the daughter of Erconbert, King of Kent, and Queen Sexburga.

St. Ermenhilda married Wulfhere, King of Mercia. She converted her husband to Christianity and bore him two children, Coenred, and Werburga. After her husband’s death, she became a nun at Minster-in-Sheppey Monastery, which had earlier been founded by her mother, Sexburga. Her mother resigned from the abbey and went to Ely, giving St. Ermenhilda her blessing as the new abbess. When Sexburga died at Ely twenty years later, Ermenhilda became Ely’s third royal abbess in succession.

Ermenhilda’s daughter, Werburga, succeeded her as abbess of Ely.

By permission of www.orthodoxwiki.org

St. Maria of Alexandria

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Commemorated on February 12

St. Maria and her father Eugene lived at the beginning of the sixth century in Asia Minor. After the death of his wife, Eugene decided to withdraw to a monastery. His daughter did not wish to be separated from him, and so she accompanied him, dressed as a man. Together, they entered a monastery not far from Alexandria, and she received the name Marinus.

Marinus became accomplished in virtue, and was distinguished by humility and obedience. When her father died, she intensified her ascetical efforts and received from the Lord the gift to heal those afflicted by unclean spirits.

The “monk” Marinus was sent with “his” other brethren to the monastery gardens, and along the way they spent the night at an inn. The innkeeper’s daughter, having sinned with one of the lodgers, denounced Marinus and named “him” as the father of her child. The girl’s father complained to the abbot of the monastery, who expelled the “sinful brother.” The saint spoke not a word in her defense and began to live outside the monastery walls. When the innkeeper’s daughter gave birth to a boy, he brought it to Marinus. Without a word, he put his grandson down before her and left. The saint took the infant and began to raise him.

Icon of the Mother of God "Iveron"

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Commemorated on February 12

During the reign of Emperor Theophilus in the ninth century, the Byzantine Empire raged with the heresy of iconoclasm. In accordance with the emperor’s command, thousands of soldiers pillaged the empire, searching every corner, city, and village for hidden icons.

Near the city of Nicaea lived a pious widow who had concealed an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Before long, the soldiers discovered it, and one of them thrust his spear into the image. However, by God’s grace, his terrible deed was overshadowed by a miracle as blood flowed forth from the wound on the face of the Mother of God. Upon seeing this, the frightened soldiers quickly fled.

The widow spent the whole night in vigil, praying before the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. In the morning, according to God’s will, she took the icon to the sea and cast it upon the water. The holy icon stood upright on the waves and began to sail westward.

Time passed, and one evening in the year 1004, the monks of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos beheld a pillar of light, shining upon the sea like the sun. The miraculous image lasted several days, while the fathers of the Holy Mountain gathered together, marveling at the site. Finally, they descended to the edge of the sea, where they beheld the pillar of light standing above the Icon of the Theotokos. But when they approached it, the icon moved farther out to sea.

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