(Source) Like the Panagia Portaitissa, the Glykophilousa Icon is one of those which were saved during the iconoclastic period and brought miraculously to Mount Athos. It originally belonged to Victoria, the devout wife of the senator Symeon. Victoria was one who venerated the holy icons, especially that of the Most Holy Theotokos, before which she prayed each day. Her husband was an iconoclast who found her piety offensive, for he, like Emperor Theophilos (r. 829-842), found the veneration of icons distasteful. Symeon told his wife to give him her icon so that he could burn it. In order to save the icon from being destroyed, she threw it into the sea, and it floated away standing upright on the waves. After a few years, the icon appeared on the shores of Mount Athos near the Monastery of Philotheou, where it was received with great honor and rejoicing by the Abbot and Fathers of the Monastery, who had been informed of its impending arrival through a revelation of the Theotokos.

A spring of holy water sprouted forth on the very spot where they placed the icon on the shore. Every year on Monday of Bright Week there is a procession and blessing of water. Numerous miracles have occurred.

Although there are many miracles of the Glykophilousa Icon, we will mention only a few. In 1713, the Mother of God answered the prayers of the devout Ecclesiarch Ioannikios, who complained about the poverty of the monastery. She assured him that she would provide for the material needs of the monastery.

Another miracle took place in 1801. A pilgrim, after seeing the precious offerings (tagmata) hanging from the icon, a certain pilgrim planned to steal them. He stayed in the Temple after the Ecclesiarch closed it. Then he stole the offerings and left for the port of Iveron Monastery. There he found a boat that was leaving for Ierissos. After a while the ship sailed, but despite the excellent weather, it remained stationary in the sea. When the Ecclesiarch saw what had happened, the abbot sent monks out in various directions. Two went to the port of Iveron and when they saw the immobile ship, they realized what happened. Getting into a boat they went to the ship came aboard. The guilty man who committed this fearful sacrilege asked for forgiveness. The monks were magnanimous and did not want the thief to be punished.

A pilgrim from Adrianopolis visited Philotheou Monastery in 1830. He listened attentively to a monk tell the story of the holy Icon and the miracles associated with it, but he regarded the account as a fictitious tale which only a child might believe. The monk was grieved at the man’s unbelief, and tried to persuade him that everything he had said was absolutely true. The unfortunate pilgrim remained unconvinced.

That very day, as the pilgrim was walking on an upper balcony, he slipped and began to fall. He cried out, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me!” The Mother of God heard him and came to his assistance. The pilgrim landed on the ground completely unharmed.

The Glykophilousa Icon belongs to the Eleousa (the Virgin of Tenderness) category of icons, where the Mother accepts the affection shown by the Child Christ. The icon is commemorated by the Church on March 27 and also on Bright Monday. The icon depicts the Theotokos inclining toward Christ, Who embraces her. She seems to be embracing Him more tightly than in other icons, and her expression is more affectionate.

The Icon is located on a pillar on the left side of the katholikon (main church).

The Glykofilousa icon (celebrated today, March 27) is similar to the one celebrated in Russia on March 19:

(Source) The Smolensk “Tenderness” Icon of the Mother of God manifested itself in the year 1103 at Smolensk. There is another Smolensk “Tenderness” Icon from the vicinity of Okopa (down from Smolensk). This icon was in the encampment of the Russian armies of the military commander Shein, restraining the Polish besiegers from destroying Smolensk for twenty months (1611-1613).

Here is an icon of Tenderness from the Orthodox parish behind my old apartment in Greece. Such sweet, tender love depicted in line and colour!

Excerpt from St. Gregory Palamas’ Homily on the Annunciation from Mary the Mother of God, pp. 56 & 58-59

Continuing as you are now with your virginity inviolate, you shall conceive a child and bear the Son of the Highest. Isaiah foresaw this many years before and prophesied, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son”, and, “I went unto the prophetess”. In what way did the Prophet go to the Prophetess? In the same way the Archangel now came to her. What the Archangel now saw, the Prophet foresaw and foretold. That the Virgin was a prophetess with the gift of prophecy, is proved to all by her hymn to God in the Gospel (Luke 1:46-55).

…Surely it is obvious to anyone that the Virgin Mother is both the burning bush and the tongs. She conceived the divine fire within her and was not burnt, and an Archangel ministered at the conception, and through her the Bearer of the sins of the world was united with the human race, purifying us thoroughly by means of this indescribable bond. The Virgin Mother, and she alone, is the frontier between created and uncreated nature. All who know God will recognize her as the one who contained Him Who cannot be contained. All who sing hymns to God will praise her next after Him. She is the cause of the benefits which preceded her, the protectress of those which came after and through her those good things which are eternal shall be received. She is the theme of the prophets, the first of the Apostles, the support of martyrs, the dais of the teachers. She is the glory of those on earth, the delight of those in heaven, the adornment of the whole Creation. She is the beginning, fount and root of the hope store up for us in heaven.

To which may we all obtain her prayers for us, to the glory of Him Who was begotten of the Father before all ages, and, in these last times, became incarnate of her, even Jesus Christ Our Lord. To Whom belong all glory, honour and worship, now and for ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

On this Holy Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God we wanted to introduce our family endeavour to publish Orthodox fiction:

Lumination Press Write-up_card(1) 

Upcoming publications from Lumination Press:

Voyage to the Rock, a YA adventure novel by Fr Matthew Penney (visit the Voyage to the Rock website here)

voyage to the rock

Out of the African Lands: The Story of Saint Perpetua and Her Companions, a historical fiction novelette by Constantina R. Palmer

e-book cover(a pre-release cover design)

lumination press lamp

“Let us make ready our lamps, shining out with brightness and true faith”

-Saint Romanos the Melodist

chrysostomAs the Sunday of the Cross marks the halfway point to our celebration of Pascha, I thought this quote from St. Chrysostom was wonderful. It is by His mercy that we will be saved, mercy He offers us so that we might someday reach the summit of virtue.

We’re halfway there, folks, let’s not become fainthearted! The cross reminds us that through trial comes joy, the joy of the Resurrection. Just a little while longer and our “mourning” will be turned into joy when we chant together, “Christ is risen from the dead!”


screen shot

If you’re interested in learning more about Holy Lady Vladimir OCA Mission here on Newfoundland you can visit our website here. There is also a link to the website at the bottom right hand side of this blog just under the blogroll: If you click on the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir it will take you directly there.



Fragment of a monastic meeting held on December 30, 2013

Nun Chionia: We brought up the following topic during one of our previous meetings: as soon as a person decides to struggle with a certain sin, she is immediately overwhelmed by temptations. I’m having a serious issue with it. No matter how many times I tried to struggle with my passions, of which I have plenty – I can simply pick and choose any of them – I have always faced this problem. As soon as I tell myself that I start the fight, I meet a temptation. I cannot get it: why does it happen, given that the enemy does not know our good thoughts?

Father Andrew: This is because the enemy knows our weaknesses.

Nun Chionia: How can he know that, for instance, today I would like to start fighting this or that sin?

Father Andrew: He feels it. He has an intuition. Perhaps, this is what God allows him to do. A person thinks, “I will get up early and attend all the nocturnal services,” but immediately she is overcome by such sleepiness that she cannot possibly attend a nocturnal service at all. The Lord says, “Come on, you are free to try but it is Me who you need to succeed.” The brothers who stay at the metochion often promise that they will never drink again but this never happens because they rely solely on their own strength. We should call unto God, “O Lord, help me! I cannot live like that anymore.”

Nun Chionia: Yes, we should begin with praying to God. However, even though I do pray, the situation never changes; perhaps, this is because my prayer is too weak. I have sins like irascibility and anger. So I plan to struggle with these sins and say, “O Lord, help me, protect me, teach me to react to everything calmly.” Nevertheless, I fail to do this and temptations come down on me like an avalanche. I want to fight the sin, and start sinning even more as a result.

Father Andrew: You’ve got to feel your weakness, for God’s power is made manifest in weakness; you’ve got to humble yourself down because you are a proud person. So if you say, “I’ll do this, I’ll do that,” gradually you may be overridden with pride, self-confidence with regard to your abilities and your spiritual condition, and this will be the most horrifying of all.

Nun Chionia: How can I improve?

Father Andrew: You have to humble down.

Abbess Euphrosinia: I can relate to what you are saying. You want to do everything for your own sake, for the sake of your pride, not for the sake of Christ.

Father Andrew: In order to justify yourself in your own eyes. You should be thinking, “Lord, I am the worst of all the sisters. I do not deserve anything but please do not leave me; I want to live with love, humility, and patience, but instead I am angry and all my passions, all my sinful dirt pours over onto my dear sisters. Forgive me, O Lord, help me!” If you reprimand yourself like that, if you feel your absolute dependency on God – you will not even notice how your way of doing things will change. This is because if you decide to do something, you cannot help watching over yourself and looking at the result, and believing that this result is your own. That is why the saints used to say that they were the worst of all: they did not see themselves exalted, they saw their wretchedness. Whenever God would give something to them, they were humbled even more because they considered themselves unworthy of it. You see, you can walk on nails and stand on your head, you can be sophisticated to a great extent – and many people do it – however, the basis for it will not be right, it will be the spirit of pride, the evil spirit. Apparently, the Lord sees that you have to humble down more. You want it but you cannot do it so you should rebuke yourself and ask for the sisters’ prayers, and when you succeed, you should say, “The sisters’ prayers managed to do it, not my own strength.” The first person you should ask for prayers is the person you dislike most. This will be a humbling experience for you, and that is how you will grow spiritually and not notice yourself doing any good. As you look into your soul, you will be able to see how deep your fall is and will no longer be proud of what the Lord gives you. The original sin deformed the human nature, so we can say that the worse – the better, if you do not become desperate.

Nun Chionia: You tell me I should ask for the prayers of the sister I have a hard time getting along with. This is the most difficult task for me…

Father Andrew: Well, you should be friends, help each other, serve each other. Carry out your holy obedience. See how Nun Nadezhda carries it out and feels that God is her strength.

March 7, 2014

Who is so great as our God? Thou who art God; Who alone workest wonders!

To finish our week of the Truth of Our Faith series I wanted to post my favourite hymn. This is in Arabic, English and Greek. For me this hymn represents all the greatness God has given us in our Orthodox faith (including the Byzantine chant melody!). May we always treasure and protect it as our most prized possession!



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