A Miracle of a Copy of the Icon of Axion Estin
During the Greek Revolution of 1821, before the great catastrophe that took place on the island of Chios, the Turks pillaged the monasteries of the island of their wealth. One day a Turk happened upon two Greeks who were trying to save the treasures as he was holding an icon of the Theotokos. He told the Greeks: “Take this Mariam” (the Turks call the Virgin “Mariam”). The Greeks didn’t understand why the Turk was giving them the icon. He went on to say: “I tried with my sword to cut this icon in pieces so as to throw it in the fire, but every time I went to chop it nothing would happen to the icon. I looked carefully at the icon and I noticed it smiled at me. I understood your faith is great and this icon should not be destroyed. Take the icon and put it in your church.”
In tears the two Greeks signed themselves with the sign of the Cross and they took the icon and hid it in a bag taking it to their homeland in Reizdere, Asia Minor. They placed the icon in the Monastery of Saint Nicholas and it soon became known for its miraculous properties.
Of its many miracles, the following is told:
There was a sick woman who sought healing from the Holy Virgin and vowed an offering of her bracelets in return. She was healed. But she lived a distance from Reizdere and it made it difficult to go and make her promised offering. This thought occupied her conscience after the miracle.
One day the healed woman noticed her bracelets were missing. She thought someone stole them. At that time she left for the monastery and meant to give an offering of money for the worth of the bracelets. She told the abbess of all that happened and she lead the woman to the icon of the Holy Virgin. With amazement and tears she looked up at the icon and saw her two bracelets which were found in front of the icon a few days before. The Holy Virgin helped fulfill the vow on behalf of the woman.
The faithful Greeks did not abandon this icon neither during the exile of 1914 when they brought the icon with them to Chios, or even during the genocide of the Greeks in 1922 when they were permanently exiled to Greece.
During the Genocide of 1922 a man by the name of Barouma hid the icon in his furnace after he risked his life trying to save it. This Barouma became a monk on Mount Athos where he lived the rest of his life with the icon. Eventually the icon was brought to Chios and then Lemnos. Eventually the Greeks who had come from Reizdere wanted to bring it with them to Crete so they boarded the boat with their beloved icon. As they passed the Holy Mountain the monks requested that the icon stay with them, but the citizens of Reizdere could not part with their icon. It was brought with them to Ierapetra, Crete.
In Ierapetra the icon continued to work miracles for the inhabitants. Eventually a church was built in its honor named Panagia Eleousa. The story of this icon demonstrates the great faith of the Greeks of Asia Minor, the grace of holy icons, and the care the Theotokos shows to the needs of her beloved faithful.