June 11, 2010

The Revelation of the Hymn "Axion Estin" by the Archangel Gabriel

The Revelation of the Hymn "Axion Estin" by the Archangel Gabriel (Feast Day - June 11 and July 13)

The Axion Estin ("It is Truly Meet") Icon of the Mother of God is in the high place of the altar (synthronon) of the cathedral church of the Karyes monastery on Mount Athos.

During the reign of the emperors Basil and Constantine Porphyrogenitos, and the patriarchate of St Nicholas Chrysoberges (984-995), a certain Elder and his disciple lived near Karyes, the administrative center of the Holy Mountain.

One Saturday night the Elder went to Karyes for the all-night vigil. He left, instructing his disciple to remain behind and read the service in their cell. As it grew dark, the disciple heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door, he saw an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, and he invited him to come in. They stood before the icon of the Mother of God and read the service together with reverence and compunction.

During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, the disciple began to sing "My soul magnifies the Lord…" with the Irmos of St Cosmas the Hymnographer (October 14), "More honorable than the Cherubim…."

The stranger sang the next verse, "For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden…." Then he chanted something the disciple had never heard before, "It is truly meet to bless Thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God…" Then he continued with, "More honorable than the Cherubim.…"

While the hymn was being sung, the icon of the Theotokos shone with a heavenly light. The disciple was moved by the new version of the familiar hymn, and asked his guest to write the words down for him. When the stranger asked for paper and ink, the disciple said that they did not have any.

The stranger took a roof tile and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. The angel said, "Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well." Then he disappeared, and the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.

The Eleousa Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn "It Is Truly Meet" was first sung, was transferred to the katholikon at Karyes. The tile, with the hymn written on it by the Archangel Gabriel, was taken to Constantinople when St Nicholas Chrysoberges (December 16) was Patriarch.

Numerous copies of the "It Is Truly Meet" Icon are revered in Russian churches. At the Galerna Harbor of Peterburg a church with five cupolas was built in honor of the Merciful Mother of God, and into it they put a grace-bearing copy of the "It Is Truly Meet" icon sent from Athos.

According to the ancient synaxarion, this feast was originally held at the cell where the miracle took place.

The icon is commemorated by the Church on June 11 and July 13. The appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to a monk on Mt. Athos, and the revelation of the hymn "It Is Truly Meet..." is commemorated by the Church on June 11.

Read also: Miracles of the Icon of "Axion Estin"


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

A monk at night, alone in church
With a fervent prayer, dispels darkness from his soul,
All at once, a monk arrived, about him, nothing unusual,
And, as an experienced cantor, began to chant.
Then, the first monk began: "More Honorable"
Glorifying the Mother of God, Mother "More Glorious".

To him, the miraculous guest spoke about this hymn of praise:
"Among us," said he, "this hymn we sing differently,
As you began, we do not begin,
Rather with 'Truly it is Meet,' venerable father!"

And the entire hymn: "Truly it is Meet" he uttered,
And the monk tried, not a word to omit.
"Now I breathe easier, O my virtuous brother
Of your hymn, allow me to copy it!"
But pencil he has not and not even paper has he,
The church a place for prayer is and not for writing!

Then the guest at midnight traced the church with a cross
And on the stone with his finger he began to write.
As on soft wax, on the stone he wrote,
At this man, the monk was amazed.

Of the unusual guest, the monk inquired: "Who are you?"
"For you, may it be enough that my name is Gabriel."
At once he disappeared. The monk with horror
Recognized the Archangel in the monastic habit.
That which he wrote, no one erased
With heavenly fragrance, the church was filled.