Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Miraculous Icon of the Theotokos "The Root of Jesse", or "Myrovlytissa", St. Nicholas Monastery, Andros

The Miraculous Icon of the Theotokos "The Root of Jesse", or "Myrovlytissa" ["Myrrh-streaming Lady"], St. Nicholas Monastery, Andros (http://www.pigizois.net/pneumatikoi_logoi/panagia_mirovlitisa/mirovlitisa.htm)

History of the Icon
"The monastery now attracts many pilgrims who come to venerate its well known icon of the Mother of God, “The Root of Jesse” (Feast day, July 2). Dating from the fifteenth century, this icon is on the iconostasis in St. Nicholas Church, to the left of the royal doors. Originally given to the monastery’s Constantinople metochion of “Vlachseray” by the famous Church of the Mother of God at Blachernae, it was brought to the monastery for safekeeping when Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453. Covered with a silver riza, the icon depicts the Theotokos seated on a throne, holding her Divine Son in her arms. At her feet lies the Prophet Jesse, the father of King David, from whose lineage it was prophesied the Messiah would come. From Jesse, as if from the root of a tree, springs the trunk depicting the Lord and the Mother of God; both sides shoot forth branches portraying the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ. A matching icon of Christ stands to the right of the royal doors.

One morning in 1986, Archimandrite Dorotheos found a tear of blood flowing from the right eye of the Mother of God on the icon. The following day the flow of blood ceased and a strong, unearthly fragrance began coming from the icon itself. Since then the riza has been almost continuously covered with a fine mist of myrrh that miraculously flows from the icon. The monks collect the myrrh and give it out as a blessing to pilgrims. Small silver ex-voto plaques (tamata) hang before the icon, testifying to the hundreds of miracles granted through the intercession of the Mother of God."

[However, that the following phrase regarding the icon seems to indicate that the icon historically poured forth myrrh: «εκχέον ανά τους αιώνας έως των ήμερων μας μύρον» ("flowing from the ages until our days myrrh") (amateur translation of text from: http://www.pigizois.net/pneumatikoi_logoi/panagia_mirovlitisa/mirovlitisa.htm)]
  

Selected Miracles
"One of the most startling miracles occurred in 1991, when Anne Guillez, a French physician and acquaintance of the author, was miraculously healed. Diagnosed with a quickly spreading form of cancer, Anne, who has a medical practice on Corsica, had driven to the monastery from France with her mother, sister, and young son to pray before the icon and consult with her spiritual father, Abbot Dorotheos. They were present for the Dormition Vigil on August 15, and after the service they went back to their room. They had already fallen asleep when Anne was awakened by seeing who she firmly believes was the Mother of God. In appearance she was dressed as an abbess and very tall. Anne’s mother, sister and young son could hear her talking at length with someone, although the other voice was not distinct; but they could not turn their heads to look – all three say that it was as if an invisible force kept them from looking.

Anne has never remembered what the conversation was about, only that she answered, “Yes” many times, and she believes she was asked, and that she promised, to do something. The next morning she told the abbot of her experience, and he too felt that what she had seen was in fact the Mother of God. When she arrived back in Corsica just days later she went to the hospital again for tests and found that the tumor had completely disappeared. Her physicians were disbelieving and repeated the tests several times, but finally had to admit that she was perfectly well.

Another woman from the nearby village of Stenis had a son who was declared insane and committed to an asylum. She went to the asylum, crossed him with cotton soaked in the myrrh, and he recovered
immediately.

A third account, well-known to many people in southern Greece, involved a woman from Athens who, unable to bear a child, came to the monastery to pray and ask for a piece of the myrrh-soaked cotton. The abbot blessed her and gave her the cotton to take home. Instead of anointing herself with it, as is the usual practice, she prayed and swallowed the cotton. Within a short time she conceived, to the great joy of herself and her husband. When the child was born nine months later, the doctor noticed something in the baby’s hand, and opening it up, found the still-fragrant myrrh-soaked cotton. The miracle was reported in the Athens newspapers and the woman herself testified to it in an affidavit to Archimandrite Dorotheos.
 
There was a sequel to this astonishing miracle however, and not in Greece, but in far-off Russia. In Moscow, friends of the author, Irina and Vassily Timokhin, were troubled that Irina had not yet conceived a child after several years of marriage. When they learned that I was returning to Greece and the Holy Land, they asked me to pray for them at the holy places. On my return to Moscow I brought back five or six “blessings”: oil from the lampadas of miraculous icons on Andros and Zakynthos, date leaves from the tree of St. Sabbas in Jerusalem, oil from the kandili hanging over the relics of St. Charalampos in Meteora, a cloth that had lain in the tomb with the relics of St. Spyridon... I gave them to Irina and explained to her the story behind each one. About five months later I called her and asked if she had any news yet. She replied, “No, I haven’t even tried them, because I want a baby so badly that I’m afraid if they don’t work, I will lose my faith.” We spoke for a while about how God answers prayers and about His Providence when they aren’t answered the way we hope. That afternoon, Irina went to the drawer where she kept the various packages I had given her, and taking out the myrrh-soaked cotton from St. Nicholas Monastery, she prayed, cut it in half, and like the woman from Athens, swallowed it. As she pragmatically explained later, “I didn’t want to use up the whole piece if it didn’t work.” That very night she conceived. She is convinced of the accuracy of the date because the Dormition Fast began the following day, and her husband had just returned from an absence of several weeks.

Once she had conceived, however, Irina was very nervous about giving birth, especially considering the nightmare quality of many Russian maternity hospitals. I suggested that towards the end of her pregnancy we could begin saying a daily Akathist to the Mother of God for a safe, easy birth. About a month before the due date I called to arrange the Akathist, only to have her mother-in-law tell me that not only was Inna unexpectedly in the hospital, but that after an easy four-hour labor she had given birth to a small but very healthy baby boy!

It is known that in the mid-sixteenth century, when St. Philothei of Athens was collecting alms for her charities, she came to Andros and walked many miles from the port at Gavrion to the monastery to ask the brothers for assistance. St. Philothei was not only a capable, self-sacrificing abbess in her own right, but she also maintained what we would now call an “underground railway” – escape routes to help Christian slaves and Moslems who had converted to Orthodoxy, reach safety and freedom. The Root of Jesse icon was already at the monastery and she would certainly have venerated it."
(http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_07/St_Nicholas_Monastery_and_the_Island_of_Winds.pdf)
  
This icon of the Theotokos is commemorated especially on July 2nd, the feast of the Translation of the Holy Robe [Esthita] of the Theotokos to Blachernae. (See: http://www.pigizois.net/pneumatikoi_logoi/panagia_mirovlitisa/mirovlitisa.htm; http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2008/12/most-holy-robe-of-theotokos.html)

The Monastery of St. Nicholas on Andros is one of the great spiritual treasures of Greece. For more on the Monastery, see: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_issue_articles/RTE_07/St_Nicholas_Monastery_and_the_Island_of_Winds.pdf, http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/05/st-nicholas-new-righteous-martyr-of.html.


Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O Ever-Virgin Theotokos, shelter of mankind, thou hast bestowed upon thy people a mighty investure, even thine immaculate body's raiment and sash, which by thy seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in thee nature and time are made new. Wherefore, we implore thee to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O godly shelter that dost cover all mankind, the sacred robe that covered thy sacred body hast thou bestowed on all the faithful graciously, O pure Virgin, as a robe of divine incorruption. As we celebrate with love its august deposition, we cry to thee with fear, O graced of God: Rejoice, O modest one, boast of the Christian race.


Apolytikion for the Icon of the Theotokos "The Root of Jesse" in the First Tone (amateur translation)
The myrrh-streaming lily, your Icon, O Pure One, which the Monastery of St. Nicholas of Andros posesses, pours forth healing to the faithful, and wondrously fragrant myrrh, therefore we venerate it with all reverence, and cry out with fervor: hail, O "Root of Jesse", hail, O myrrh-streaming spring, hail, sacred healer, O Most-fragrant Lady.

Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!

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