June 11, 2019

Synaxarion of the Miracle of the Archangel Gabriel at Adein and the Revelation of Axion Estin

Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel at Adein

 June 11


Beforehand Gabriel sang Rejoice to the Maiden,
Now in Adein, he sings the hymn Axion Esti.

By Fr. Seraphim Thipolos,
Protos of Mount Athos
(Account Written in 1548)

This Synaxis and Feast of the Archangel Gabriel is followed on the Holy Mountain of Athos, in a cell of the Monastery of Pantocrator, called "Axion Estin," in a place called Adein. It is followed because of the following miracle. At the Skete of Protaton, which is found in Karyes, next to the location of the Sacred Monastery of Pantocrator, there is a large gorge with various cells. In one of these cells, which is dedicated to honoring the name of the Dormition of the Lady Theotokos, there was an elder and virtuous Hieromonk, together with one of his submissives. As it was customary every Sunday at the Skete of Protaton for a vigil to take place, on one Saturday evening, when the elder wanted to go to the vigil, he said to his disciple: "Child, I am going to listen to the vigil, as is customary. You however, remain at the cell, and as you are able read your Service." With this he departed. When the evening had passed, behold there was a knock on the door of the cell. The brother rushed to open it, and he saw a stranger Monk, unknown to him, enter inside and he remained in the cell that night. When the time for Matins came they rose up, and both of them chanted the Service,. When they came to the "More Honorable" (Tιμιωτέραν), the resident Monk chanted only "More Honorable than the Cherubim" (Tην τιμιωτέραν των Xερουβίμ) and so on till the end, which is the customary ancient hymn of Saint Kosmas the Poet. The stranger Monk however began the hymn differently, chanting: "Truly it is meet to bless the Theotokos, the ever-blessed and all-pure, and the Mother of our God" (Άξιόν εστιν ως αληθώς μακαρίζειν σε την Θεοτόκον, την αειμακάριστον και παναμώμητον, και Mητέρα του Θεού ημών.). Then he attached to it the "More Honorable" until the end.

When the resident Monk heard this, he was in awe, and said to the appeared stranger: "We only chant the 'More Honorable,' and have never heard of the 'Axion Estin,' neither us nor those before us. I beg you, as an act of love, write down this hymn for me, that I may also chant it to the Theotokos." He replied: "Bring me a pen and paper that I may write it." The resident answered: "I have neither a pen nor paper." The appeared stranger said: "Bring me a flat stone." The Monk hastened to find one, and finding a flat stone, he brought it to him. The stranger took it, and wrote the hymn "Axion Estin" on it with his finger. And - O the miracle! - he inscribed the words so deep onto the hard flat stone, it was as if he wrote it on a tender candle. He then said to the brother: "From now on, you will chant this also, as well as all the Orthodox." Upon saying this, he disappeared. It was a Holy Angel sent from God, to reveal this Angelic Hymn, fitting for the Mother of God. It seems that it was the Archangel Gabriel, as it states in the Menaion for this day, namely the "Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel at Adein." The Fathers at that time celebrated the Synaxis and Feast and Liturgy every year at the cell of "Adein," to commemorate the miracle, honoring and glorifying the Archangel Gabriel, who from the beginning till the end stands as the inspired hymnographer of the Theotokos, who fed her and attended to her, and was her joy-making Evangelist. So also he served to reveal this hymn of the Mother of God, as it alone is fitting of her service.

When the elder returned from the vigil and entered the cell, his submissive began to chant the "Axion Estin," as it was delivered by the Angel, and then he showed the flat stone to his elder, with its angel-inscribed words. When he heard and saw these, he was ecstatic before this wonder. Both then took this angel-inscribed flat stone, and went to Protaton, and showed it to the Protos of the Holy Mountain, and the other Elders of the common Synaxis, and narrated to them all that took place. With one voice they glorified God, and thanked our Lady the Theotokos for this paradoxical event. Immediately they sent the flat stone to Constantinople to the Patriarch and the Emperor, indicating to them through a letter everything about this intense event. From then on this angelic hymn was distributed throughout the ecumene, to be chanted to the Mother of God by all the Orthodox, even by children. Regarding the holy icon of the Theotokos, which is in the church of that cell, the following miracle took place. It was transferred by the Fathers of the Holy Mountain to the magnificent Church of Protaton, where it can still be found today, enthroned on the sacred synthronon within the Holy Bema, because it was before this icon, that the Archangel Gabriel first chanted this hymn. The cell took on the name Axion Estin. The gorge in which the cell can be found, is called by everyone until today Adein, which means "to chant," for this angelic and fitting for the Mother of God hymn was first chanted there.