February 16, 2016

A Historic Athonite Icon of Saint Haralambos in the Hut of Saint Akakios

By Monk Patapios of Kavsokalyva

One of the sacred treasures of the Hut of Saint Akakios, which belongs to the Skete of the Holy Trinity of Kavsokalyva, is the historic portable icon which bears the inscription "Saint Haralambos the Rapid Helper", the work of an Athonite factory from the mid-18th century.

This small but homely sacred icon of Saint Haralambos in the Hut owes its existence to the following wondrous event: After the translation of the relics of Saint Akakios in 1733, which were found to emit an ineffable fragrance and show a resounding element of sanctity, acclaimed by both Mount Athos and the Great Church of Christ, the submissive of Saint Akakios and the Righteous One of the Skete Papa-Jonah of Kavsokalyva traveled to Constantinople to minister - at the invitation of the Patriarchate - as a spiritual father and partly to arrange to find financial resources for the Kyriakon of the Skete to be built as well as the church of the Hut.

At that time there fell upon the City a terrible and deadly plague, which led to the deaths of thousands of its inhabitants. Even Papa-Jonah was challenged by the disease at that time. He then prayed to his elder the Venerable Akakios as well as to Saint Haralambos, whose miracles relating to plagues were many. Then Saint Haralambos appeared to him in a vision, who assured him that not only would he be healed, but also all the faithful would be redeemed from the terrible scourge.

The miracle happened and the event became quickly known around the circle of his spiritual children who surrounded Papa-Jonah, and they were eye-witnesses of the spread of the miracle throughout the City. Then to the glory of God and to show gratitude to their spiritual father from Kavsokalyva, the faithful conducted a fundraiser throughout the City, whereby Papa-Jonah realized the mandate of his elder, and he built the two previously mentioned churches.

In the commemoration of the miracle above, Papa-Jonah commissioned an icon of Saint Haralambos, with survives to this day as a treasure of the Hut of Saint Akakios. In this small but homely icon, the wonderworking Saint is depicted in the middle, bearing the inscription "The Rapid Helper". To the right is represented Papa-Jonah kneeling, dressed in monastic garb. To the left is a composition depicting the plague, in the form of a black demon, who is removing himself in a panic. Particularly important is an inscription attributed to Saint Harlambos: "I redeemed Jonah from the disease of the plague, when he fled to me, with longing and willingness."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.