Theotokos, Gerondissa (Eldress)

Theotokos, Gerondissa (Eldress)
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  • Item #: X194
At one time the abbot of the Monastery of the Pantocrator, on Mt. Athos reposed in the Lord. He had reached a venerable age and had lived a pious and holy life. He had learned by revelation the time of his repose and wanting to receive the Holy mysteries before departing into the next world, he asked the priest whose time it was to serve the Divine Liturgy not to delay as his time was near. However, the priest paid no attention to the abbot’s request. But he soon heard a voice from an icon of the Holy Theotokos in the altar telling him not to delay but to hurry an fulfill the abbot’s desire. From this incident this icon became known as the Eldress (Gerondissa). The Mother of God is depicted in full stature and standing “guard” over the Holy Mount of Athos. She is known to have increased the monastery’s supply of oil on two occasions at the request of the abbot. (See No.63) The monastery has a pious tradition that during an attack of the Saracens the Gerondissa Icon was threatened with destruction. One of the attackers was about to chop it to pieces but the Lord did not allow this and the attacker was struck blind. The barbarians threw the icon into a well and it remained there for 80 years. According to information given by relatives of the blind saracen the icon was retrieved. It happened in this way; The blind man wanting to repent before dying for his deed asked his relatives to go to the Holy mountain and rescue the icon. His relatives fulfilled his wishes and told the monks where the icon was to be found. It was lifted from he well and placed back in the church not in the altar as before but in from of the north-east column which supports the cupola. It is now adorned with a silver riza.
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