Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Miraculous, Myrrh-flowing Icon of Panagia Malevi, and the Monastery

Greetings!

This is very roughly translated and slightly rearranged and summarized from the page "Iερά Mονή Μαλεβής" on the Church of Greece website (http://www.ecclesia.gr/greek/monshrines/malevi.html). I believe it is originally from Nun Anysia from the Monastery of Panagia Malevi, and it is her re-telling a short history of the Monastery, along with her account of the great miracle. There are many icons of Panagia that throughout the world and throughout the centuries have been shown miraculous by the Grace of Christ and the Theotokos, but this is particularly striking story. For over forty years, the ancient Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos (called Panagia Malevi) has been exuding Holy Myrrh which is intensly fragrant, and has helped work many, many miracles throughout the world. May Panagia continue to watch over all of us and protect us, who venerate her Sacred Image, and who worship her Son.
  
The Monastery of Panagia Malevi (taken from: http://www.pigizois.net/ieres_mones/i_m_panagias_malevi/20.jpg)


The Holy Monastery of Malevi

"The first of foundation of Malevis in “the Channels”
(Lay re-telling)
The first Malevis Monastery was built on a high place called Malevou which is now called Kanala in the isolated and trackless forests of Malevou. The chronical book of the monks states that the first monastery was founded in 717 AD, but a year later all of the Monks died, and the final monk, seeing his inevitable end, left a hidden message of what transpired. From that time other monks decided to leave this monastery at “the Channels” and re-build the monastery at another, lower location. On Parnon mountain, which has an altitude of 1937 (m?), the old ruins and are being found of approximately seventy Christian monasteries.

The Monastery of Panagia Malevi (taken from: http://www.inarcadia.gr/culture/ekkl/mon/malevi/malevi2-500.htm)
  
The Monastery of Parnonos
The Monastery of Malevi is one of the oldest monasteries in the region of Parnonos Mountain. Because the honor and veneration of the Theotokos was especially important for the monastics, many of the monasteries were founded in memory of the Birth of the Theotokos, her Dormition, or others to her honor.

Since the original monastery was built on the site previously called Kanaloni approaching the top of Malevou, the Monastery became known as the Panagia of Malevou was slowly Panagia Malevi or simply Malevi.

The refounding of the monastery of Malevis as of today is noted in a historical epigraph on the Katholikon [the central church] of the Monastery, which was founded placed by the Hieromonk Joseph Karatzas. He writes as follows in detail on the plate:

[ΑΝΗΓΕΡΘΗΚΕΝ ΕΚ ΒΑΘΡΩΝ Ο ΘΕΙΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΑΝΣΕΠΤΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ ΟΥΤΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΘΕΟΜΗΤΟΡΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΕΠΟΝΟΜΑΖΟΜΕΝΗΣ ΜΑΛΒΗΣ ΔΙΑ ΚΟΠΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΜΟΧΘΩΝ ΠΟΛΛΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΟΣΙΟΤΑΤΩΝ ΙΕΡΟΜΟΝΑΧΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΙΩΣΗΦ ΚΑΡΑΤΖΑ ΗΓΟΥΜΕΝΟΝ ΑΠΟ ΧΩΡΙΟΝ ΣΙΤΑΙΝΑ 1916]
The Monastery is therefore ascribed to the year 1116 AD for its foundation, while the old Monastery was built in 717 AD.
  

The Miraculous Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos ("Panagia Malevi") (taken from: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=34&pos=40)
  
The miracle of the Icon
The miraculous Icon is traditionally known as one of the seventy images painted by the Evangelist St. Luke. The icon was brought by residents of Mount Athos to the first monastery in the Canal.
Following the tragic end of the monks who died due to the extreme cold and the roaring winds, it was left alone and came to the place it is today. It repeatedly was found in some local bushes, and was constantely found illumined by a divine light. Three attempts were made to move the Icon to no avail, so a church was built at that location in 1116, and in the year 1362 the silver covering was added to the Icon.

How the Holy Myron [Myrrh] was revealed
I have profound emotions and my soul is brought to heaven when I ponder the divine Myrrh, which flows from this miraculous Icon. How many were left speechless trying to tell and explain it. The Myrrh is unlike anything on earth. The Myrrh is not similar to the Myrrh which flows from various Saints. It is unprecedented Myrrh that our sweetest Jesus graced us with as a very precious gift to His Ever-Virgin Mother.
  
And hear how it was revealed. In 1964 before the Holy Myrrh ran down the Icon of the Theotokos, for twenty days an indescribable aroma was present around the monastery. The Icon smelled beautifully, but initially it was not understood to be a miracle and people asked one another «Are they putting perfumes on the icons?» But no one knew anything. A Father Stilianos asked «What kind of perfume are you using?» and the nuns replied «We aren’t putting anything on, Father».
  
A Dimitrios Kalitsis, who had come from Agio Petro said «the aroma is coming from the Panagia». The aroma was still so strong that at night on the terace I said, «My Panagia, what is this that you open a river and drown us.»
  
The Friday of the Final Chairetismoi [Salutations Service to the Theotokos in Great Lent] on the 17th of April, 1964, pilgrims had come for the Vigil. The first drops appeared. Sister Theonymphi saw them first, and then the Pilgrims ran to see them.
  
On the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, Sister Theodouli came after Vespers quite troubled and said «Sister Mariam, go to the church of the Panagia. Something like a mirage appeared and see that it is.»
I had not gone to the Vespers service. I ran to the church, I took a candle and gazed at the Icon and saw the Panagia open and closing her mouth and something like a fountain running out. When she opened her mouth, as much as a running tap would flow up, and it would stop when her mouth was closed. And when she would reopen her mouth the fountain would run again, but upwards. And the water that filled the frame was clear. The stand [proskinitari, stand that holds up an icon for veneration] was full, and that which flowed outside was as the color of milk.
  
We were shaken and afraid, and no one slept that night. On Monday morning Panagiotis Kolovos came from Agio Petro. He went to venerate the Panagia, and came to tell us that there were drops outside of the frame. The Sisters went and saw a few drops from outside of the glass and the color was the color of the sky, blue, and the aroma was very strong.
  
That afternoon, the Gerontissa [Abbess] Parthenia returned and we related to her what we saw and she remained speechless; she didn’t know what to tell us. Was this a miracle? Because we have never heard of the miracles of the Panagia like the one we’d seen.
  
The next day we saw again a few drops from the center towards the outside. The frame did not hinder it, and it ran out of the frame and down the stand. The color was all-pure like a diamond, and had an aroma. On the next day, Wednesday, they subsequently ran at intervals several times a day. The color was a golden yellow like lemons or yellow oil, and it ran so many times that we filled half a bottle, we sealed it, and the next day the vial was empty.
  
To us who witnessed this first, the miracle was traumatizing, and we cried. I did not know what kind of sign this was and what was its meaning. Would it signify a catastrophe? What could we say?
The sixth week of the Great Fast, the week of the Palms, was for us days of lament and weeping.
  
One day we rang the bells throughout the day but nobody came. They heard the bells as they told us later but did not come. We were alone. We notified the Diocese, and Priests of Metropolis came, took the Icon from the stand, wiped it, and inspected it to confirm themselves with their eyes the miracle of the Panagia.
  
The Police came, the people came from their villages, some by motorcycles, other with animals, others walking to venerate the Panagia.
  
The police put everyone outside, and locked themselves into the church by themselves. We could not see what they were doing. The Policeman said that when he wiped the Myrrh, more would flow from the face of the Panagia, and he said «I believe, Panagia». The icons smelled beautiful, the stasidia [seats along the periphery of the church], the the whole church, the whole monastery. Even the cars of those that took pieces of cotton dipped in the Holy Myrrh smelled.
  
The aroma was so strong that it reached the lower road, so strong it was. The Myrrh would run down the stand several times a day and reached the floor, and we gathered it with cotton and gave it to everyone. There were so many people, and we would read Chairetismous [the Salutations to the Theotokos] continuously. Even when Holy Week came, and it is said «we don’t Salute the Panagia in Holy Week», but so great was the crowd that we read it throughout Holy Week. The Myrrh would run from the Icon at intervals several times a day. On Holy Pascha, it stopped running. During Renewal Week [the week after Pascha] it did not run, but it resumed during the week of Thomas in the same way.
  
The color would change between four forms, as I said earlier, like a milky color, the color blue, a diamond color, and a yellow color that remained stable and did not change. Once I saw myself at the Midnight service that the Myrrh coming from the Panagia was blood red, and passed outside of the frame and stayed there. In the morning I woke up before the other Sisters and went to see the Icon and it was dry. After this it appeared as dried blood, but the aroma was always the same. When the icon would flow and hit the floor, it was like my sword poking my side, and I would go run to venerate the Panagia. I would gather the Myrrh from the floor. Sometimes the aroma of the Myrrh would permeate as waves, something that I perceived as something beyond nature. The aroma was not like a natural scent which would smell and then stop. The Aroma of the Myrrh of the Panagia is not like them, but is not held back going in or out, just as the Lord was not hindered by the seals or the stone at the Tomb [at His Divine Resurrection]. Thus nothing hindered the aroma and the Myrrh to flow inside or outside the frame, and it would come not in a physical manner, but in waves, and would not leave the slightest doubt in the unbelieving.
No one was left untouched, and prayers and supplications and tears to the Panagia were made by all the Pilgrims, by everyone.
  
The Bishop of Navplion was Chrysostomos after the death of Bishop [Despotis, literally Master, the traditional Orthodox greeting to the Bishop] Germanos Roumpani. He had just come, so instead the Bishop of Sparta, Kyprianos, came. He came here to our monastery, inspected the Icon, asked himself about the miracle and said «Blessed be the name of the Theotokos. May the miracle of the Theotokos spread».
  
The Miraculous Icon of Panagia Malevi in the Church, on the stand for veneration (taken from: http://arcadia.ceid.upatras.gr/arkadia/monchu/gallery/malevi.html)
  
Policemen and Chemists attempt to identify the source of the Holy Myrrh
In 1969, the chief commander in Tripoli gendarmerie commander of the Astros, came and inspected the icon, and as he told the residents of Agios Petros, he found no hint at all of fraud, and that previously he was not God-fearing, but when he saw the miracle with his own eyes, he said: «A Great God exists ».
And a Chemist from Tripoli took some Myrrh of the Panagia to perform a chemical analysis on it, and he beheld miraculous power, but he did not seen anything natural [or physical], and he cried out «A Great God exists».
  
The Myrrh of the Panagia was for a few years as the way I said above. Though it appeared all-clean in the frame it gathered as large drops and came outside of the frame, it dripped, and we saw when it came out and ran down. We gathered it with cotton and gave it as a blessing to the world. A few years later, there was a great earthquake, and since that time it runs continuously in the frame, it is continuously drenched, it does not slow down, we wipe it up and in a few hours, again it is filled.
  
The miracle of the Panagia was not known very far away. The local region and a little beyond only knew about it. After 6 years, Dimitrios Panagopoulos came in 1970, in the month of July from Athens, a pious man and a preacher of the divine word. Many people know him from his sermons and from his modest life. This preacher of the Divine Word spread the miracle of the Theotokos around the world in his monthly brochure called «Agia Marina». From then began to come pilgrims from the Capital, from all over Greece, and from the outside, and those who couldn’t come would send us a letter seeking the Holy Myrrh of the Panagia. The Holy Myrrh works miracles, many sick people have been healed.
  
St. Nilus (or Neilos) the Myrrh-flower, who began his asceticism near the Monastery of Panagia Malevi, and later moved to Mount Athos - Commemorated on November 12th and May 7th (http://www.thehtm.org/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=27_50_90&products_id=375&osCsid=859e6e46a702d14705cdf13311e9e055 , see: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=103290. On a side note: according to the following full biography of the Saint in Greek (http://users.uoa.gr/~nektar/orthodoxy/agiologion/osios_neilos_myroblyths.htm), the famous, so-called "Prophecy of St. Neilos" was actually the result of false "revelations" to a Monk Theophannes who was healed by the Saint, but was later deluded in thinking that the revelations in his dreams were of divine origin. Though they do resemble other divine revelations in some ways, they were never recognized by the Athonite Fathers as being genuine.)
   
The Gerontissa Parthenia
Since 1960 when she was made Abbess, she has built six churches. St. Neilos the Myrrhflowing, where the first cell of the Saint was. St. George at the cemetery. St. Charalampos in the metochion [dependency] of the Monastery at Korakovouni. St. Nektarios. And recently she finished the large Church, which celebrates the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Holy Transfiguration of Christ, and the Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple. And the lower church also has three dedications.
  
The Monastery of Panagia Malevi, a shot of the newer, Large Church (taken from: http://www.pigizois.net/ieres_mones/i_m_panagias_malevi/06.jpg)
  
The feast of our Panagia
On the Feast of the Panagia, like every year, we do a vigil service in the small church. This year, 1994, on August 15th the vigil took place in the Large Church, a beautiful, all-radiant and decorated church. The wonderworking Icon of Panagia was moved to the veneration stand in the great church and it was venerated by all the people, the Christians. At 6 o'clock in the afternoon was the small Vespers, and at 9:30 at night the bells run harmoniously. There was chanting, ringing of bells at short intervals, and soon began Great Vespers, and after Vespers was Holy Unction. After the Holy Unction began Matins, the liti, the Six-psalms, the Polyeleos of Panagia, the kathismata, canons, and finishing the minologio we chanted the Engomia [lamentations] of the Panagia, katavasies, and the 9th ode, the Praises, and after the Doxology, we chanted “Holy God…” very slowly, and had the procession with the Epitaphio of the Panagia outside of the great church, all holding lit candles.
  
And when the bells of the great church and the simandron of the small one rang festally, the large procession around the church began. The small epitaphio was preceded by the Precious Cross and the gold banner of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The small candles and Sisters with Priests all chanted “Holy God…” in a festal manner while the bell-ringer rang during the procession of the Epitafio. Truly moving are these moments in the infinite silence of the night. At 5 in the morning the Divine Liturgy finished which was followed by a sermon for the feast of our Panagia. The Sisters and the Faithful will commune, and will go rest after the Divine Liturgy. At 7 o'clock we have a second Divine Liturgy because many Christians come from afar and can't make the Vigil that we follow, so there is another priest and they receive Holy Communion at the second Divine Liturgy.
  
That same evening we have Vespers early, and after Vespers, we take the Icon of the Dormition which we have below the Myrrhflowing Panagia, the censer, the candles, the talanto, the simandron, and the bells ringing, we exit from the church and procede up the stair to the salon and we the Sisters and those who happen to be there at this moment chant “In giving birth…” [the Apolytikion for the Dormition of the Theotokos] and the bells chant “In giving birth you retained your Virginity”, and other hymns. We will stop at the salon and wish many years of virtue for those who celebrate the feast of our Panagia, the Gerontissa Parthenia and other Sisters who celebrate, and we chant more hymns.”
  

Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)
  
Apolytikion for the Dormition of the Theotokos - Tone 1.
In giving birth you retained your virginity; in falling asleep, O Mother of God, you did not abandon the world. You passed over into life, you, the Mother of life; and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.
Απολυτικιον Παναγιας Μαλεβης - Ηχος α'
Δευτε πιστοι αγαλλομενοι ανυμνησωμεν * την Παναγιαν Παρθενον * ρεει γαρ εκ της Εικονος Αυτης* Μυρον ευωδιαζον * Δευτε το θαυμα τιμησωμεν * και την Παρθενον προσκυνησωμεν * και ποιησωμεν δεησεις εκτενεις * ινα ρυση τε ημας ποικιλων περιστασεων
Apolytikion of Panagia Malevi - First Tone (amateur translation)
Come O faithful and joyously praise the All-Holy Virgin, for from Her Icon flows fragrant Myrrh, Come let us honor the miracle, and the Virgin let us venerate, and perform fervent supplications that she might deliver us from various troubles.
  
For the Paraklesis (Supplication) service to Panagia Malevi (in Greek), see: http://www.agiooros.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=9533.
  
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us! Amen!

1 comment:

Marie K said...

What a beautiful accounting of the history of the Holy icon of the Panaghia at the Monastary of Malevi. Xronia Polla ses ollous sas. H Panaghia mazi mas pantote.