Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
In 1651 in the Monastery of Iviron there were 365 monks, who being pained because of their poverty, prayed to the Icon of the Theotokos, the Doorkeeper to take care of their livelihood as a loving mother and single protector of the monastery. Then our Mistress, as if saying ”you take care of your souls and I shall be ready to help you in your material needs”, rushed to find aids for the monastery. And from where? From the tsar of the powerful Russia, Alexei Mihailovich. But how? By the following miracle:
The daughter of the tsar got terribly sick. Her legs paralyzed and according to some reputed doctors she would remain paralyzed for the rest of her life, because that disease was incurable. Because of this, the parents of the sick child were overwhelmed by an inexpressible grief and inconsolable sorrow. But when they were at the height of their despair, their daughter reached another doctor, a most gracious Empress, bright as the sun, who showed up in her sleep and encouraged her, promising her a full recovery, then she told her with the sweetest voice: ”Tell your father to bring here my icon, the Doorkeeper, from the Monastery of Iviron.”
The next day they sent a message to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Ioanikios, to ask the monks from Iviron to fulfill the wish of the pious tsar, the only defender of the entire Orthodoxy and take the Icon of the Doorkeeper to the bed of the princess. Hearing these, the monks were surprised and were not willing to fulfill that request, because they were afraid that the Icon would not be given back to them from Russia. Even after pondering that for a long time, they did not come to any conclusion. In the end they decided they would not send the Icon in Russia, but a copy of it.
The painting of that icon was entrusted to the virtuous painter Iamvlih. First the monks officiated a vigil and the blessing of water, washing the original Icon with that, then the cypress plank on which would have been painted the new icon. In the same time they gave to the painter different relics, which after being granulated, were mixed with the colors and they adviced him to fast when working at the icon. On Saturdays and Sundays they kept vigils all night long. After the copy was made, it was sent instead of the Doorkeeper to Russia, with the archimandrites Pahomius, Cornelius, Ignatius and Damaschin, who were accompanied till a certain place by all the monks who prayed to the Theotokos with tears in their eyes to show her power where she was sent and not to shame her monastery.
On the day when the delegation which brought the icon was expected to arrive in Moscow, the city was deserted from early morning and the people living there, led by the family of the tsar and by patriarch Nikon went to the place where they had to receive the Icon and they were all waiting in fasting and prayer. The sick princess, having no idea about what was happening called her mother. But she heard her maid saying:
”Today the Icon of the Doorkeeper will come to heal you.” ”That is why all the people, including your mother, are out of town to receive it.”
”How is that?” she asked. ”The Holy Mother of God is coming and they have left me here?”
And all of a sudden she jumped out of her bed, got dressed quickly and being very angry, she descended the stairs. Then she ran on the streets of the city in a rush, she found the crowd gathered in that place, she went to her parents and disgruntled, asked them why they had not taken her to the reception of the holy Icon. No one could utter a word, for tears and sobs impeded them to do that.
It was a moment of deepest emotion when the people who attended the event saw from one side their Mistress, the Doorkeeper coming to them and from the other side was coming the paralyzed girl, who was completely healed. After the icon was received and worshiped by all the people, the tsar asked the messengers of the Monastery for how long they could leave the miracle working icon to him and the entire Russia and what they wanted as a reward. Then the messengers answered:
”Your highness, we were asked to give you the holy Icon as a gift for you and the pious Russian people, if your highness wanted to give us here a metochion for easing our material needs.” ”And as long as it exists, our monastery, being mostly grateful, would pray to God for your highness and for your descendants.”
The tsar told them:
”I give you one of the most beautiful historical monasteries of our capital, which is located in the neighbourhood of my palace, near Kremlin. It is the Monastery of Saint Nicholas, with 70 ministers, who will be fed and paid from my treasury forever.” ”You will have an annual financial aid of 2500 rubles and beside this an exemption of all taxes for everything you will bring or take from Russia as long as the sun is rising in the sky.” ”I also wish my government pay the shipping taxes of all your messengers, their arrivals and their departures.”
”And after I shall have built a beautiful church near the entrance gate of my capital, I shall put there the holy Icon of my Mistress, the Theotokos, the Doorkeeper, to worship it as the mostly praised Doorkeeper and defender of all our city and of the entire Russia.”
The metochion was in the property of the Monastery of Iviron for 284 years, till 1932, when its last inhabitant, Paisios the Ivirite, was ousted and the metochion was taken by the communists. The monastery earned so much revenue from this metochion that almost only from these it could cover all its material needs.
The Icon of the Doorkeeper, Iverskaia mater, is found in Moscow, in the Church of the Resurrection. When the Patriarch of Alexandria went to Moscow, invited by Patriarch Alexei, for celebrating the jubilee, he asked to be sung the holy hymns before that Icon and 50000 believers attended the ceremony knelt down and crying, although it took place during the communist regime.