By John Sanidopoulos
When St. Savvas the Sanctified was near his end (6th century), he told his monks to watch for one day in the distant future when an archbishop, a man of God bearing the same name, would come from a far-off western land. The monks were to give this man St. Savvas' pateritsa (pastoral staff) and an icon of the Panagia. They would know it was the right man when at the moment of his paying veneration to the tomb the tied up staff will fall to the ground. Two hundred years later, St. John of Damascus added his own wonderworking icon of the Panagia Tricherousa (Three Hands) to this inheritance.
When St. Sava of Serbia visited the monastery of his namesake some 700 years after St. Savvas' death, the monks had still maintained the prophesy of their founder, and now found its fulfillment in St. Sava of Serbia. While he was paying veneration to the saint’s tomb, the staff fell down. The miracle repeated the next day, and all doubts of the monks were gone. They knew for sure then that the Serb Sava was the one they had been waiting for. This is how the much-revered icon of the Panagia of Three Hands (through which the miracle of the restoration of St. John of Damascus' hand was accomplished), as well as the pateritsa, came to reside at the Serbian Hilandari Monastery on Mt. Athos.
Today in Karyes there is a Cell which belongs to Hilandari Monastery that goes by the name Pateritsa. The ebony staff, made from the tusks of an elephant, is within a cabinet of the north aisle of the Chapel of the Transfiguration of the Cell.