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November 24, 2021

The Story of the Icon of the Panagia Pyrovoletheisa ("of the Gun Shot")

When Mount Athos was occupied by a Turkish guard in April of 1822, a soldier dared to shoot at the icon of the Theotokos located outside the entrance of the Sacred Great Monastery of Vatopaidi. The bullet hit the right hand of the Panagia. As soon as he shot the right hand of the Panagia, the sacrilegious soldier immediately fell down and frothed in front of the gate like a madman, as the historical manuscript states about this event. This soldier, who was the nephew of the captain of the detachment, then went and hung himself on an olive tree in the garden opposite the entrance of the monastery. The danger of retaliation and looting of the monastery would have been certain, if the scene was not witnessed by a fellow soldier who informed his uncle about it. The captain of the detachment then confessed that this was indeed a divine chastisement and ordered that his nephew, the soldier, be cast away dishonorably and unburied. The miraculous icon of the Panagia Pyrovoletheisa ("of the Gun Shot") is located at the entrance of the Sacred Great Monastery of Vatopaidi, and the location of the gunshot on the right hand can still be seen.

A similar incident had taken place in the Sacred Monastery of the Great Lavra, where right inside the gallery of the entrance of the monastery is a fresco of the Panagia enthroned, and a Turkish soldier turned and said to the monks who were staying there: "This is your Lady, her you obey and venerate?" and he turned and shot the Panagia. The bullet, however, turned back at him as soon as he shot at the image, thus killing the sacrilegious Turkish soldier and frightening his fellow soldiers. This icon is also called Panagia Pyrovoletheisa ("of the Gun Shot").