Our Lady Vimatarissa or Ktitorissa

This icon is on the synthronon of the sanctuary of the katholikon and the following tradition is associated with it.

In the 10th century, during the course of a raid on the Monastery by the Arabs, the deacon-monk Sabbas, who was sacristan (vimataris) at the time, managed to hide the icon in the well of the sanctuary, together with the cross of Constantine, placing a lighted candle in front of them. The Arabs plundered the Monastery and the deacon Sabbas was carried off as a prisoner to Crete. He gained his liberty 70 years later and returned to the Monastery. The younger monks, who knew nothing of the hidden treasures, opened the well on his instructions and found the icon and the cross standing upright on the water and the candle still burning.

This icon is also called Ktitorissa (from ktitor = founder), since its discovery took place during the time of the three founders of the Monastery, Athanasius, Nicholas and Antonius. In memory of this, a supplicatory canon to the All-holy Theotokos is sung every Monday evening, and every Tuesday, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated in the katholikon.

Another story is told of this icon.At one point, there was a monk of the monastery who had difficulty in understanding the meaning of the verse “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday”, and was filled with sorrow that he could not find anyone to explain this to him. It so happened that at that time the former Patriarchs of Constantinople Cyril and Cyprian were staying at the Monastery and large numbers of monks from all over the Mountain had gathered to receive their blessing. On the Monastery’s patronal festival, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, at the point when the Patriarch Cyril was going to reverence the sacred relics after the customary blessing, the monk heard a voice from the Vimatarissa icon explaining to him precisely the meaning of the verse, which caused him to thank the Blessed Virgin in tears for this miraculous solution to his difficulty.

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