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Panagia Portaitissa

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History of the icon
==History of the icon==
This is the most famous and most revered miraculus icon of the [[Theotokos]] on the Holy Mountain. In the 9th century, during the reign of Theophilus the Eikonomachos (Iconoclast), it was the personal property of a devout widow from Nicaea in Asia Minor, who kept it and honoured it in her private chapel. The Emperor's men who got to hear of this decided not to carry out immediately the order about [[icons]], but to start by trying to blackmail its rich owner. In the time which they gave her to collect the money they demanded, the widow took the [[icon ]] and her dearly loved son and, after fervent prayer, took it to the sea and left it on the surface of the waves, so that it should not be defied by the iconolastsiconoclasts. The [[icon ]] stood upright on the water and began to head towards the west, while the widow's son, following her advice, also fled towards the west to escape persecution. Later he became a monk and died on the north-east coast of [[Athos ]] near or in the Monastery of Clement, and so the anchorites round about heard from him the story of the [[icon]].
One evening, when monks from Georgia (Iberians) had started to live at the [[Monastery ]] of Clement, an amazing phenomenon puzzled all the monks of the area: a column of fire stood upright on the sea and reached to the heavens. This vision continued to be seen for several days, and then the monks saw the [[icon at ]] adrift in the sea. They made their supplications to God that this priceless treasure should be given to them, and the [[Theotokos ]] appeared to the devout anchorite Gabriel the Iberian and bade him to walk on the water to take the [[icon ]] and to give it to the Abbot and brethren of the Monastery.
Nevertheless, after its reception and installation in the church, the [[icon ]] repeatedly disappeared and was found above the gate of the Monastery on the inside. In a dream, the [[Theotokos|Blessed Virgin ]] told St Gabriel that this was the place which she herself had chosen, so that she could protect the monks and not be protected by them. Thus the [[icon ]] took the name of '''''“Portaitissa”''''', and until this very day its presence in the [[Monastery ]] and on the [[Athos|Holy Mountain ]] is regarded as a guarantee of the protection of Athonite [[monasticism ]] by the [[Theotokos]]. Later, a chapel was built near the wall of the [[Monastery ]] in which the [[icon ]] was placed, while the old entrance was closed and another, grander, one built. The [[miracles ]] performed by the '''Portaitissa ''' are without number, especially on [[August 15 August ]] and on Monday of Diakainisimi Week, when there is a procession and the finding of the [[icon ]] is commemorated with a Liturgy [[liturgy]] in the [[chapel ]] on the shore, at the exact spot where St Gabriel took it out of the sea.
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