15 Days for Panagia {day 9}

In the year 52 A.D. the Theotokos, St. John and several others were on a ship sent by St. Lazarus, who was now the bishop of Cyprus. She and her company were going to pay him a visit and she was bringing him gifts, an omophorion (bishop’s stole) and epamanikia (cuffs), that she had sewn for him.While they were at sea there was a terrible storm and the ship was thrown off course. During this storm she prayed to her Son to pilot their vessel, according to His will. When the storm finally subsided they found themselves outside the port of Clementos on Athos.

At that time, Mount Athos was inhabited by pagan tribes and the island was full of temples occupied by mostly young virgins dedicated to the goddess diana and were preparing to become priestesses in the idolatrous temples of Greece. It was forbidden by penalty of death for men to enter the island.

When the Virgin Mary’s ship approached, the statue to Jupiter fell from its place at the top of the island and shattered to pieces. (The presence of this statue is mentioned in ancient history; its eyes would reflect the starlight and was used as a lighthouse to those sailing around the island)

When the Panagia went ashore to rest for a few moments she was overwhelmed by the beauty of the island and she asked her Son to give her this mountain, despite the fact that the inhabitants were pagan. A loud voice was then heard saying, “Let this place be thine inheritance and garden, a paradise and a haven of salvation for those seeking to be saved.”

[[ Now, it is important to mention at this point an event that occured immediately after Pentecost. The Apostles and several other followers of Jesus were casting lots to see which land they were to travel to in order to spread the Word. The Theotokos too desired to take part in the preaching of the Gospel and so the apostles cast a lot for her and her lot fell on the Iberian land (now Georgia is southern Russia).

However after the day of Pentecost, the Theotokos was planning on setting out for Iberia at once but the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and said that Jesus Christ wishes that she not depart from Judea. He told her that God would direct her to a peninsula in Macedonia and she will have the work of preaching in that land. He went on to tell her the following in regards to the Iberian land, “The land which fell to thee will be enlightened in the latter days, by another woman, and thy dominion will be established there.” These words were fulfilled three centuries later when the blessed Virgin Mary sent St. Nina “Equal to the Apostles” wom she blessed and helped in proclaiming the Gospel to the Iberians.]]

Panagia Gerondissa of Mount Athos

So, when the Virgin Mary heard those words while resting on the island, she remembered the Archangel’s words. She stood up to give thanks to God and at that moment the ground shook and the pagan statues in all the temples fell prostrate and broke into pieces. Then, even the trees on the peninsula bent forward as though offering veneration to the Theotokos. Then screams were heard coming from the idols and cries could be heard saying, “Men of Apollo, get ye all to Clemes harbor and welcome Mary, the Mother of the Great God Jesus!” Then the demons inhabiting the idols, forced against their will, could not resist the power of God and they proclaimed the truth.

Whereupon, all the inhabitants of Athos hastened from all parts of the island to that port. She then preached to them the Gospel of her Son and all were amazed at not only her words but also at the fact that a Hebrew woman was speaking to them in Greek.