The miraculous icon of Panagia Vimatarissa
The miraculous icon of Panagia Vimatarissa or Ktitorissa is the premier icon of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, on Mount Athos, located in Northern Greece. It is placed at the central chair of the Holy Altar inside the main church (Katholikon) of the Monastery. According to tradition, Arcadius, the young son of Theodosios the Great, Emperor of Rome, was involved in a ship wreck. He washed to shore and ended up beneath a bush under miraculous circumstances. Underneath that bush he found this icon. This exact place later became the site of the Monastery of Vatopedi and hence the name of the Monastery - The Greek word for bush is "Vatos" and the Greek word for child is "Pedi," Vaopedi or Greek - Βατοπέδι. The icon was placed in the Holy Altar of the Monastery when it was built. The icon also received the name Ktitorissa (the founder) from this miracle. The best known miracle of this Holy Icon is as follows: when Arab pirates decided to loot the Monastery (as was common practice in the 10th century), the Hierodeacon Savvas was the Vimataris (person responsible for the Holy Altar) of the main church (Katholikon). He managed to place the icon in a well, located in the Holy Altar, together with the Cross of Constantine the Great and a lit lantern which was always placed before the icon. However he did not manage to save himself, as he was caught by the pirates and sold as a prisoner on the island of Crete. 70 years later when Crete was liberated by the Emperor Nikiforos Fokas, Hierodeacon Savvas was also freed and immediately returned to his Monastery. Upon his return, he led the then Abbot of the Monastery, Nicholas, to the well inside the Holy Altar and instructed him to open it. It was a miracle! The icon and the Cross were found floating on the surface of the water and the lantern was still lit before the icon. The Icon also receives the name Vimatarissa because of where it was found, that is the Holy Altar. Ever since this occurrence, a Paraklesis service to the Virgin Mary (Panagia) is chanted before the Icon every Monday afternoon. The Divine Liturgy is conducted in the main church (Katholikon) every Tuesday, apart from Sundays and major feasts. Processions conducted at the Monastery, always have the Holy Icon of Panagia Vimatarissa or Ktitorissa first in line of the procession. We are blessed to have had the miraculous icon replica visit our Cathedral on Friday, September 28, 2018.