The “Gerondissa” Icon

The word “Gerondissa” means eldress or directress. The icon’s origin is as follows:

In the Pantokrator Monastery on Mount Athos, the Abbot, a person of advanced age who was noted for his piety and his holy way of life, was dying. Having received a revelation about his impending death and wanting to commune of the most-holy and life-giving Gifts of Christ before crossing over into the life beyond the grave, he asked the priest whose turn it was to serve to hurry with the Liturgy. The priest, however, paid no attention to the Abbot’s request. But then he heard a voice coming from the Icon of the Mother of God in the Altar. The Theotokos directed that he immediately obey his abbot’s wishes and direction. It was from this incident that the icon of the Mother of God became renowned as such a remarkable image and received the title “Gerondissa.”

The Theotokos is depicted at full length. The icon also depicts a vessel of oil as a reminder of a miraculous event: Following prayers said by the Abbot before the miraculous Icon, oil multiplied to fill nearly empty monastic vessels.

Currently, the icon is not in the altar of the catholicon where it had formerly been kept, but rather at the northeastern column supporting the cupola. The icon has been restored and is covered with a silver riza.

According to pious tradition in the Pantokrator Monastery, during a Saracen attack upon this Monastery, the Gerondissa Icon was cast into a well near the Monastery. One of Saracens, maddened with hatred for Christian holy things, wanted to break up the icon into pieces and use it to light his pipe. However, the Lord did not allow that act of sacrilege. At that very moment, the madman lost his sight. Then the barbarians threw the icon into the well, where it lay for eighty years.

There it was later found at the direction of relatives of the Saracen who for his audacity had been punished with blindness. Before his death, he repented of his madness, and hoping to receive as a result some easing of his fate, he directed that after his death they should go to Holy Mount Athos and find the icon of the Theotokos. Obeying the terms of his will, his relatives arrived at MountAthos and told the local monks where the Holy Icon had been thrown. With great solemnity, the Holy Icon was taken out of the well and carried into the monastery catholicon.

Parish Life, June 2023
St. John the Baptist Parish, Washington, DC


Hej6/6/2023 11:27 pm
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