The tradition tells us that on the icon of Paramythia, the original expression on the faces of the figures and the position of the bodies of Christ and the Blessed Virgin changed when the following strange miracle occurred, January 21, 1321 in front of the Abbot – Saint Ghennadios of Vatopedi – which went there to take the keys of the Monastery’s main gate which were at the icon in order to give them to the monk which was responsible in opening the gates:
Pirates had secretly landed on the shore of the monastery and were hiding, waiting for the gates to open in the morning in order to launch an attack on the monastery of Vatopedi. The Abbot, who had remained behind after the end of Matins in order to continue his prayer before taking the keys, heard these words from the icon of the Blessed Virgin:
“Do not open the gates of the Monastery today, but go up on the walls and drive away the pirates.”
As he turned to look, he saw the Mother of God turned towards her right shoulder and looking at him, while the Holy child was stretching out His hand to cover the mouth of His mother saying,
“No, Mother, do not watch over this sinful flock, let them fall under the sword of the pirates and be punished as they deserve.”
But the Blessed Virgin, taking Her Son’s hand in Hers and turning Her head a little to free her mouth, repeating the same words.
This last arrangement of the figures has remained permanently on the icon and has, thus, and has also earned it the rare iconographer’s title of “Achaeropito” (not made by hands). The monks, miraculously saved from the pirates, gave thanks to the Theotokos and named the icon “Paramythia” which means “The comforting one”.
The icon is a wall-painting and it was removed from its original place outside of the Main Church (Katholikon) to the right choir of the chapel named after it. In memory of this miraculous event a perpetual lamp burns in front of the wonderworking icon. Every day the Divine Liturgy is celebrated and a Canon of Supplication is chanted in honor of the icon.
The photos are from the feast of Paramythia. Together with Paramythia was the feast of St. Maximus the Greek one of the great saints of Vatopaidi. At the end of the matins his relics were exposed for veneration. At the feast Metropolitan David of Grevena was present.
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