December 6, 2010

Miracles of Saint Nicholas in Andros

The Monastery of St. Nicholas in Andros was, according to tradition, built in the 8th century though it is not mentioned in any historical books until the 14th century. This monastery has an elaborate architectural structure, including a bell tower and complex arches completed during the recent restoration of the monastery in 1760.

The monastery houses wonderful frescoes and an architecturally superb wooden screen. The Byzantine icon of Panagia Blachernae, donated in the 15th-century by the monastery in Constantinople of the same name, is still kept in here, known in Greece as the Panagia of Andros, a miraculous myrrh-bearing and scented icon of the Virgin of the Root of Jesse.

The Panagia of Andros (the "Root of Jesse") is an ancient and myrrh-streaming icon, always surrounded with a powerful sweet-spicy fragrance. Great wonders occur from this holy icon and myrrh streams from it endlessly. There are even reports that people have been resurrected from the dead through the miracle-working icon.

There is also an ancient icon of the Virgin Mary that has significantly changed its facial expression over the last few years. The authorship has turned exceedingly sorrowful and tears have been flowing from her eyes. In 1999, this icon cried unceasingly coinciding with the bombardment of Serbia at that time.

The monastery also houses the icon of St. Nicholas, and some of his relics; the icon was authored by a nun named Leondia who wove her own hair into the icon. According to the locals of this metropolis, this icon is the most active in the entire of Andros.


The Holy Oil

Every year on St. Nicholas’ feast-day, Abbot Dorotheos gives out little packets of blessed wheat from the lity in honor of the saint. A few years ago, just as he had given out the last packet, a local fisherman came in and hurried to the altar to receive his wheat. Instead, the abbot gave him a small bottle of oil from the kandili hanging over the saint’s icon. The fisherman put it in his coat pocket and left. A few weeks later he was at sea when a sudden storm arose. Although he was a skilled sailor, the storm became violent and, unable to get to shore, he feared that his boat would capsize. He began to pray to St. Nicholas, and remembering the holy oil, took the bottle from his pocket and poured it into the sea. Immediately the wind ceased, and in a short time the water around the boat was as smooth as glass. The fisherman sailed back to Andros, giving thanks for the saint’s intercession.

Fish for the Feast

In the 1980’s, Father Dorotheos was acquainted with the abbot of a small skete on Mount Athos near Karelia where there is a church dedicated to St. Nicholas. On one of the saint’s feast-days, however, there was no fish, and the monks were left with only beans and bread for the celebration. Fr. Damaskenos, the abbot, was unhappy about keeping such a poor feast, and prayed to the saint, “I’m sorry, but we have no fish to honor you with.” A few hours later a fi sherman walked into the skete carrying a large bag of fish. Setting the bag down, he said to the abbot, “These are for you.” The abbot asked where he had come from and the man replied that he was from the middle peninsula8, but had been blown off-course while fishing and landed miles away on the Athonite coast. Knowing that he was too far from any settlement to get his fi sh to market before they spoiled, the fisherman was surprised to see an old man suddenly emerge from the woods, who asked him where he was from. The fisherman told his story and the old man replied that he would buy the fish. He paid him, and told the fi sherman to take the fish to the skete “for my feast.” The simple fi sherman didn’t think about the strange words until the abbot asked him what the old man had looked like. Pointing to an icon of St. Nicholas, he replied, “Like that.” The monks celebrated the feast with great joy, and the abbot, in relating the story to Father Dorotheos, told him that to his great regret, he had not thought to ask the fisherman to trade him the money given to him by the saint.

The “Old Grandfather”

One woman from Thessalonica came to the monastery a few years ago and told Abbot Dorotheos and the monks that one day, while walking to church with her four year-old son, the child was attracted by something in the road and letting go of her hand, darted into the busy street. A huge truck was approaching, and just before it hit him she screamed out for St. Nicholas. After the truck passed over her son’s body, she ran terror-stricken into the road, expecting to find him dead. Instead, he stood up seemingly unscathed, and when she asked him if he was hurt he said matter-of-factly, “Oh no, the old grandfather laid on top of me in the road.”

The Guardian at the Gate

About twenty years ago, when Father Dorotheos was living alone in the monastery, two of the monastery’s tenant farmers became dissatisfied and irrationally demanded that they be granted clear title to their farms. If this didn’t happen, they threatened, they would make trouble for the monastery. They were as good as their word and one night showed up intending to break in. As they approached the big front gate (now fitted with a heavy wooden door and iron bars, but then only an open archway) they were met by an old man, slightly balding, with gray hair and beard, wearing a long brown cloak. He stopped them and said, “Go away, I’m here.” The men rudely replied, “What’s that to us? Out of the way, old man!” and started to push past him. He answered with the compelling command, “Look at me!” Surprised, they turned, and as they looked at him, rays of light shot from his eyes. Terrifi ed, they ran to Apikia, the nearest village, where they told everyone they had seen the saint.

On the next St. Nicholas Day, not long after, one of the men brought a huge artos for the feast, and the abbot, smiling, asked him, “Are you still planning to make trouble for me?” Embarrassed, the man replied softly, “No,” and gave the abbot his offering for the saint.

Read more about this monastery in the article: St. Nicholas Monastery and the Island of the Winds