June 24, 2012

10 Facts About the Panagia of "Axion Estin"

Below are ten little known facts about the Holy Icon of Panagia "Axion Estin":

1. To arrive at the exact date when the Archangel Gabriel revealed the hymn "Axion Estin", we calculate according to the following facts:

- The synaxarion for the feast says it took place during the reign of the emperors Basil (976-1025) and his brother Constantine Porphyrogenitos (1025–1028), and the patriarchate of St. Nicholas Chrysoberges (980-995), in the year 980 (6490 years from the creation of the world).

- However, 6490 is not 980, but 982.

- We also read in the ancient sources that the miracle took place on a Sunday and the date was June 11. Since June 11th fell on a Sunday in 982, we can assume this is the date the miracle took place.

2. The second part of the hymn "Axion Estin", which begins "More honorable than the Cherubim", was written by St. Kosmas the Poet in the 8th century.

3. With few exceptions, the hymn "Axion Estin" is chanted during the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, in the same tone as the previous Cherubic Hymn. However, according to Athonite tradition, the Archangel Gabriel chanted it in the second tone.

4. The Service to the Panagia "Axion Estin" was written by a Russian hierodeacon named Benedict in 1838. It was published four times in Athens (1854, 157, 1890, 1971) and one time in Karyes, Mount Athos (1924). It was translated into Slavonic twice, once in Constantinople (1861) and once in Thessaloniki (1910). The synaxarion read during the Orthros was written by the Protos Seraphim. The Doxastikon was written by Monk Averkios, a representative of Xenophontos Monastery, in 1923.

5. The Litany with the Icon of Panagia "Axion Estin", which takes place on Bright Monday, is for the following reasons, according to the sources:

- Out of love for the Panagia.
- For the sanctification of homes.
- For the blessing of the fruits.
- To abolish insects and other harmful living things from the gardens, trees and vines.
- For physical health.

6. Before the wars of the 20th century, the litany of Bright Monday would gather more than 2000 people.

7. In 1508, the following miracle took place on Bright Monday. The monks of the Dionysian Cell could not be found to welcome the Icon to their Cell. They had abandoned the Cell and hid themselves. That night a strong rain and hail destroyed their vines, trees, and gardens, though that of their neighbors was perfectly fine. The monks realized their sin and went to the Monastery of Dionysiou to confess to Saint Niphon, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was there. He gave them an appropriate canon for repentance, and the following year they welcomed the Holy Icon with much honor, and begged forgiveness from the monks on their knees for not receiving them the prior year.

8. Twice the Monastery of Koutloumousiou did not welcome the Holy Icon during the litany of Bright Monday, because they considered themselves a large Monastery and did not feel the need to recognize the traditions of the other monasteries. As a result, the first time the boat of the Monastery was burned together with its watch tower, and the second time the walls of the newly-built trapeza and other buildings of the Monastery fell.

9. In 1963, in honor of the 1,000 year anniversary of Mount Athos, the Holy Icon of Panagia "Axion Estin" was brought to Athens. Thousands came to venerate this treasure of Orthodoxy with great emotion. This was the first time the Icon left the Holy Mountain.

10. Night and day services take place at Protaton, where the Icon is kept, before the Panagia "Axion Estin", and dozens daily venerate the Holy Icon, leaving their names and those of their loved ones for commemoration.

The Holy Cell of Axion Estin