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October 1, 2009

The Miraculous Icon of the Panagia Gorgoepikoos ("She Who Is Quick to Hear")

Panagia Gorgoepikoos (Feast Day - October 1)

To the right of the entrance to the dining room of the Monastery of Docheiariou on Mount Athos, there is a special place of veneration dedicated to the miraculous icon of the Theotokos Gorgoepikoos. The monastery’s tradition suggests that the icon was painted during the eleventh century, in the time of St. Neophytos (a founder of the monastery). Across from this lies the church dedicated to the one depicted in the icon.

In 1664 the then head of the dining room, Monk Neilos, was passing by the icon as usual with a lit torch to get to the dining room. Suddenly he heard a voice say: "Do not pass by here again with a torch and smoke up my icon."

Neilos heard the voice but had no idea from where it came, so he continued about his business. After a few days, at around the same time he heard the voice the first time, again he heard a voice saying as he passed with his torch: "Unmonastic monastic, how long will you irreverently and unhonorably smoke up my image?" Upon hearing this, immediately he was blinded.

It was then that Monk Neilos understood that both voices were of the Theotokos, and because of his disobedience he was correctly disciplined (the Theotokos is considered the supreme Abbess of all the monastics on the Holy Mountain). He made his way to a stasidi (monastic arm chair) across from the icon and began to implore the Theotokos for his sight to be returned. When the brethren heard what had happened, they placed a lamp before the icon, and censed it each night.

At the appropriate time the Theotokos forgave and healed him, saying to him: "Behold, I am granting you your sight, but see that you do not pass by here again with a lit torch. I am the Abbess of this Monastery, the Theotokos Gorgoepikoos, for quickly do I hear those who call upon my name." Therefore, it is by the Theotokos herself that the name of this icon was confirmed to be Gorgoepikoos, which means "quick to hear".

The Most Holy Theotokos then fulfilled and continues to fulfill Her promise of quick help and consolation for all those who come to Her with faith.

In Russia, copies of the wonderworking Athonite image “She who is Quick to Hear” were always venerated with great love and fervent prayer. Many of them were glorified by miracles. In particular, there were cases of healing from the plague and from demonic possession.

In 1938, the Docheiariou Monastery presented a copy of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God “Quick to Hear” to the Russian Spiritual Mission at Jerusalem.

It should be noted that prior to the miracle above regarding Monk Neilos, the names of the Panagia's icon at Docheiariou in 1563 were Vrefokratousa (Infant-bearer), Fovera Prostasia (Awesome Protection) and Gorgoepikoos (Quick to Hear). Yet when the Panagia revealed her name a century later there was a different spelling to the last that is hard to portray in English but looks like this in Greek - it went from Γοργοεπήκοος to Γοργοϋπήκοος (in English the "e" is a long "e" sound). What this means is that not only is the Theotokos "Quick to Hear", but she is also showing another attribute of herself by calling herself "Quick to Obey". In this way she was teaching Monk Neilos the value of obedience, and how she is the example par excellence of the great virtue of obedience. It was because Monk Neilos did not obey the command of the Panagia that he was blinded, yet after he was disciplined for his disobedience the Panagia obeyed his request and healed him. Thus, she who is "Quick to Hear" is also "Quick to Obey".


Numerous miracles of all sorts are attributed to Panagia Gorgoepikoos, for the icon reminds believers that the Holy Virgin is quick to come to the aid of those who call upon her with faith.

One of the many miracles comes from a testimony of a Greek woman whose husband in the summer of 1987 was healed of an acute myocardial infarction. She writes:

His condition was very serious, but it became even worse when he suffered a pulmonary edema. On Sunday afternoon Dr. Papoutsakis at the General State Hospital Nicea informed me that was husband was dying.

In my hands I was holding an icon of Panagia Gorgoepikoos. I approached by husband - who was just about ready to die - and I gave him the icon to embrace; it was my only hope. I went out to the hallway and prayed for Her to work Her miracle, for him...for the kids...for me.

Ten minutes did not pass when I fearfully saw the doctor come out of the intensive care unit. He approached me confused and said, "A miracle happened". "I was sure of it" I responded with tears and he explained to me the unexpected development.

I thank the Panagia for her infinite benevolence.

Thekla Periorellis,
Piraeus, Athens

To listen to the Supplication (Paraklisis) Service to Panagia Gorgoepikoos in Greek, listen here (It is the one titled: ΠΑΡΑΚΛΗΤΙΚΟΣ ΚΑΝΩΝ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΓΟΡΓΟΫΠΗΚΟΟ ΤΗΣ Ι. Μ. ΔΟΧΕΙΑΡΙΟΥ)