Throughout Bright Week, in all the monasteries, sketes, and kellia of Mount Athos, cross processions are held every year.
They are all connected with the Mother of God, the Abbess of the Holy Mountain of Athos, and this is signified by the more well-known and revered icons of the Theotokos from the various communities that are carried at the head of these processions. These icons are also accompanied by relics of the saints. For example, the procession from the Iveron Monastery is led by the Iveron icon of the Mother of God; the icon of the Akathist, the most ancient icon of Vatopedi, is carried in that monastery’s procession; the procession of Filotheos Monastery includes the icon of the Glykophilousa, or “Sweet-kissing” icon; the Koutloumousiou procession is accompanied by the “Terrible Betrayal” or “Passion” icon; and the procession of the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon monastery has for centuries carried the icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
On Bright Monday the first procession took place with the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God “It is Truly Meet” in the Koinotita, or Holy Community—the spiritual and administrative center of the Holy Mountain in Kares. The ancient tradition is that the procession by the Koinotita marks the beginning of a series of similar solemn processions made by all the communities on Mt. Athos on Tuesday or Wednesday of Bright Week. According to Athonite tradition, all of the processions symbolize the Heavenly Queen’s rounds of her earthly Portion.
The Koinotita procession has it’s own particular rite. In the Holy Dormition Church of the Protis, or administrative head, services are held according to the Paschal rubrics. To the Matins are added the Gospel reading, canon, and stichera to the Theotokos. At the Liturgy, in place of “The Angel cried…” is sung the festal “It is Truly Meet…,” called “of the Protis”. According to tradition, this is the very “It is Truly Meet…” that the angel sang when glorifying this icon.
At the end of the Liturgy the supplicatory canon of the Mother of God is sung, and then the Great Cross Procession begins with the icon of “It is Truly Meet,” which is kept in the altar of the Koinotita church. The procession lasts for about five to six hours. The centuries-old rite of procession with the miracle-working icon makes strictly observed stops in a specific order. Thus, the icon visits Koutloumousiou, which is located near the Koinotita, and then the metochia of all the Athonite communities in the capital of the Holy Mountain, as well as certain sketes, such as that of St. Andrew.
Unfortunately, this year the Cross Procession ended earlier than usual due to torrential rains that swept across Mt. Athos, and the icon was not able to visit the metochia of Agios Pavlos, Hilandar, Xeropotamou, and the Russian St. Panteleimon monasteries. The rains also prevented the processions of the Koutloumousiou and Iveron monasteries.