August 9, 2013

The Acheiropoieton Icon of Christ in Kamouliana

The Finding of the Acheiropoieton Icon of Christ in Kamouliana (Feast Day - August 9)

The acheiropoieton or "icon not made by hands" image of Christ appeared in Kamouliana of Cappadocia and is mentioned in the early 6th century by Zacharias Rhetor of Mytilene, his account surviving in a fragmentary Syriac version. In the version recorded in Zacharias's Chronicle, which is said to have taken place during the reign of Theodosius I, a pagan lady named Hypatia was undergoing Christian instruction, and she asked her instructor "How can I worship Him, when He is not visible, and I cannot see Him?" She later found in her garden a painted image of Christ on linen cloth floating on water. When she picked it up, it was not wet. When placed inside her head-dress for safekeeping in order to bring it to her instructor to see, it then created a second image onto the cloth, and then a third was later acquired or painted by a woman from Diobulion in Pontus and installed in a church in her village. Hypatia duly converted and founded a church for the version of the image that remained in Kamouliana, while the other was housed in Caesarea. In the reign of Justinian I (527-565) the image is said to have been processed around cities in the region to protect them from barbarian attacks.

One of the images probably arrived in Constantinople in 574, and is assumed to be the image of Christ used as a palladium in subsequent decades, being paraded before the troops before battles by Philippikos, Priscus and Heraclius, and in the Avar Siege of Constantinople in 626, and praised as the cause of victory in poetry by George Pisida. It was probably destroyed during Iconoclasm, after which mentions of an existing image cease, and in later centuries its place was taken by the Image of Edessa, which apparently arrived in Constantinople in 944, though is said to have originated from the time of Christ.