FIRST WRITTEN REPORT OF THE MIRACLE.
The miracle was originally written down by Seraphim Thipolos who was Protos on Mt. Athos in 1550. The authentic document of the hieromonk Seraphim was at first published with minor additions by St. Nikodimos of Mt. Athos in 1799 in his book called New Martyrology. It begins by saying: “On Mt. Athos, at the Skete of Protaton, which is at Karyes, near a big pit called Adein, Adein means a hymn, there is a cell. In that cell a hieromonk lived…”
Concerning the time of reporting the miracle, St. Nikodimos says the following: “Fr. Seraphim, a priest monk, lived in 7056 since the creation of the world; now we are in 7306, therefore 250 years have gone by since the miracle was recorded…” Consequently, the original text was written around 1548, two years before Fr. Seraphim became Protos of Mt Athos. This blessed man was the spiritual father of St. Dionysios of Olympos too, and had a close spiritual bond with St. Theophilos the Myrrh-gusher when Fr. Seraphim was staying at the cell of St. Basil the Great in the nearby Kapsala. That cell is near the cell of the Dormition of the Mother of God and as he used to come often to the place where the angelical hymnody glorified in a wondrous way the Mother of God, he decided to write down this miracle for all generations. He, too, built the narthex of the Protaton, the most ancient and historical church of Karyes, which takes pride having the venerable icon of Axion Estin.
AXION ESTIN IN THE LITURGICAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH.
Since the 10th c. and by a decision taken by the Patriarch of Constantinople, this new hymn was incorporated in the ecclesiastical texts, especially in the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
Immediately after the priest says “Especially to the Most-Holy and Most-Pure…”, after the Holy Gifts are sanctified, the first choir chants “Axion Estin” following the same tone of the cherubic hymn. In some cases though, some prefer the second tone because tradition has it that Archangel Gabriel used this tone. As time went by, the hymn of “Axion Estin” to the Mother of God was written in almost all services: Matins, Small and Great Supplicatory Canons to the Virgin, Small Compline immediately after the Salutations to the Virgin and the Thanksgiving Service at lunch.
INFORMATION FROM THE BOOK AXION ESTIN – THE MIRACULOUS ICON OF PROTATON
Fr. Benedict, a hieromonk and scholar, who was born in the island of Syme and lived in the Holy Monastery of St. Panteleimonos, wrote a complete service to the miraculous icon of “Axion Esti” “Done out of piety to our Lady the Theotokos after being asked by the fathers in charge of the church of Protaton in 1838.”
In this service after the sixth ode of the canon, the original text of Fr. Seraphim Thipolos is found with the title: “Report about the miracle of the archangelic hymn of “Axion Estin” by Archangel Gabriel on Mt. Athos”. Actually, the whole text has been improved. For the first time we learn about the time the miracle took place at the pit of “Adein”. It says:
“The miracle took place when Basil and Constantine the Purple-borns, who were brothers and sons of Romanos the New, reigned in 980, while Nicholas Chrysovergus was Patriarch, 6490 since the foundation of the world. However, 6490 corresponds to 982, not 980. The above mentioned Emperors are Basil the II, the Vulgaroktonos (976-1025) and Constantine the VIII (1025-1028). Also in the new Martyrology of St. Nikodimos is written down that the miracle took place a long time ago and that the Angel, who appeared as a stranger monk, was Archangel Gabriel. In the liturgical book of Menaion is also mentioned that the miracle happened on the 11th of June. Therefore, since the miracle happened on the 11th of June, the fathers gathered and had a service with D. Liturgy at the pit, afterwards named “Adein” in remembrance of the miracle, honoring Archangel Gabriel, too.
Fr. Seraphim Thipolos wrote that the miracle took place on a Sunday and the feast took place, according to old printed Menaia, on 11th of June at the “Adein”. Consequently, this date must be searched in 982, when 11th of June coincides with the Sunday.
THE HOLY ICON AND THE GREEK NATION
On October the 3rd 1913, the monks of Mt. Athos offered a long prayer during a lengthy all night vigil in the church of Protaton. Then they wrote the monumental resolution of “eternal and unbroken union with “Mother Greece”, which was signed by the abbots, representatives and other senior fathers holding high responsibilities from almost all monasteries. They all first of all prostrated in front of this high-standing athonite icon and kissed it with deep compunction and tears, actually honoring the most-pure Lady and patron of Athos. The document was finally well written out, sealed by the Holy Community and monasteries, and then, the original one was sent to the King of Greece Constantine XII, regarded as the “successor” of the ever-memorable byzantine emperors who had founded the holy monasteries. Copies were also sent to the Great church of Christ at Constantinople to all the governments of orthodox nations, and finally to the members of “the London conference of ambassadors”.
The icon of “Axion Esti” was printed on the formal bond notes of a national loan to Athos in 1931. The loan was given because the monasteries had given an invaluable and huge part of dependencies to restore poor families and many refugees who fled Turkey in 1922 during the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
In 1963, during the feast of the millennium of Mt. Athos, the blessed icon was taken to Athens. The decision was taken by the Holy Community and the icon was escorted by bishops, political and military authorities, the representatives of the monasteries, the fathers in charge of the church of Protaton and others. It was welcomed with honors, deep piety and much contrition and penance. Crowds of faithful there had the opportunity to venerate this sacred historical icon. After all, it was its first time to be away from its holy cradle.
In the church of Protaton, day and night services are done and constant prayers by monks are offered to the Mother of God, patron of Karyes.
The extensive publication of the story , the editions of the church services and all the transcripts about the icon, but especially the wide spreading of the angelic hymn of “Axion Estin” made the icon popular all over the world.
Source: Hieromonk Justin of Simonopetras
“Axion Estin” –Miraculous icon of Protaton Ayioreitika Tetradia 1
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