Commemorated on June 11
The “It is Truly Meet” Icon of the Mother of God is in the high place of the altar of the Cathedral at the Karyes Monastery on Mount Athos.
During the reign of Emperors Basil and Constantine Porphyrogenitos, and the patriarchate of St Nicholas Chrysoberges in the tenth century, a certain Elder and his disciple lived near Karyes. One Saturday night, the Elder went to the Karyes Monastery for the all-night Vigil. Before leaving, he instructed his disciple to remain behind and read the service in their cell. As it grew dark, the disciple heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, and the disciple invited him to come in. They stood before the icon of the Mother of God and read the service together with reverence.
During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, the disciple began to sing “My soul magnifies the Lord…” and then recited the line, “More honorable than the Cherubim….”
The stranger began to sing the next verse, “For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden….,” but then began to chant something the disciple had never heard before, “It is truly meet to bless Thee, Oh Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God…” Then the stranger continued with, “More honorable than the Cherubim.…”
While the hymn was being sung, the Icon of the Theotokos shone with a heavenly light. The disciple was moved by the new version of the familiar hymn, and asked his guest to write the words down for him. When the stranger asked for paper and ink, the disciple said that they did not have any.
The stranger took a tile from the roof and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. The angel said, “Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well.” Then he disappeared from the room, and the Icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.
The Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn “It Is Truly Meet” was first sung, was transferred to the Monastery at Karyes. The tile, with the hymn written on it by the Archangel Gabriel, was taken to Constantinople when St. Nicholas Chrysoberges was Patriarch.
Numerous copies of the “It Is Truly Meet” Icon are revered in Russian churches. At Galerna Harbor in St. Petersburg, a church with five cupolas was built in honor of the Merciful Mother of God, and a grace-bearing copy of the “It Is Truly Meet” icon sent from Athos was put into the church.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )