The Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the
Iveron Mother of God
famous center of Orthodox monasticism (known also as Agion Oros - Greek for the
"Holy Mountain"). By tradition, it was painted by the apostle and evangelist Luke.
In the 9th century, this Icon was in the possession of a widow who lived in Nicea.
This town in Asia Minor no longer exists, but in its time it was the venue for two
Ecumenical Councils; the first, which composed the first eight articles of Nicean
Creed, and the seventh, which reinstituted the veneration of icons after a lengthy
struggle with the iconoclast heresy, which had erroneously equated the veneration of
icons to idol worship.  
It was during the reign of the iconoclast Byzantine emperor Theophilus that soldiers
came to the  house of the widow, where in a small chapel the Iveron Icon of the
Mother of God occupied a place of honor. One of the soldiers struck the Icon with his
sword, and immediately blood began to flow from the gashed cheek of the Virgin.
Shaken by this miracle, the soldier instantly repented, renounced the iconoclast
heresy, and entered a monastery. On his advice, the widow concealed the Icon in
order to avert its further desecration. After praying for guidance before the Icon, the
widow put the Holy Image into the sea. To her immense surprise and joy the Icon did
not sink but,  remaining upright, drifted away in a westerly direction. Fleeing
persecution, the widow's son left Nicea and went to Mt. Athos where he led a saintly
life as a monk to the end of his days. There he recounted the story of how his mother
had set the Holy Icon upon the waves, and this story was  handed down from one
generation of monks to another.
Many years later this Icon appeared on the Holy Mountain ("in a pillar of fire" as
Athonite tradition  recounts) from the sea, close by the Iveron monastery. At that
time the holy monk Gabriel was one of the brotherhood in this monastery. The Mother
of God appeared to him in a vision and directed him to convey to the abbot and
brothers of the monastery that She wished them to have Her Icon as their help and
salvation. She told Gabriel to approach the Icon on the waters without fear and take
it with his hands. Obedient to the words of the Mother of God, says Athonite
tradition, Gabriel "walked upon the waters as though upon dry land," took up the Icon
and brought it back to the shore. The icon was then brought into the monastery and
placed in the altar. On the next day the Icon disappeared from the sanctuary, and was
found on the wall beside the monastery gate. It was returned to the altar, but the
next day it was again found by the gate. This recurred several times, until the the
Holy Virgin revealed to the monk Gabriel that it was not Her wish for the Icon to be
protected by the monks, but that She wished to protect them. After this, a church was
built near the monastery gate where the icon resides to this day. In connection with
the name of the monastery the icon came to be known as the "Iveron" Mother of God,
and because of its location, the "Portaitissa," or "Gatekeeper." In addition to many
miraculous hearings, the Holy Virgin demonstrated Her protection of the Iveron
Monastery during various assaults by Saracen pirates.
News of this wonder-working icon reached Russia through pilgrims who had visited Mt.
Athos. In the 17th century Archimandrite Nikon of Moscow (later to become Patriarch)
asked the abbot of the Iveron monastery to send a copy of the Icon to Russia, and
this request was fulfilled. The copy of this Icon also began to work miracles and a
special chapel was built for it next to the Kremlin walls in Moscow, where it was
especially revered by the Russian people until the Revolution of 1917 The chapel was
destroyed by the Bolsheviks and the fate of the Icon is not known.
[1] From:
Lives of the Saints