May 4, 2023

The Eight Times the Icon of the Panagia of Axion Estin Left Mount Athos

The Panagia of Axion Estin icon is widely considered the most important treasure of Mount Athos, and is normally kept in the Protaton Church in Karyes, the capital of the Holy Mountain. The miracle associated with the icon goes back to the year 980, and for nearly a thousand years after that it never left the Holy Mountain. However, beginning in 1963, it has come out of Mount Athos on eight occasions to be venerated by the faithful for special reasons. These eight occasions are as follows:

1. 1963 - The first time the Panagia of Axion Estin icon left Mount Athos was during the celebration of the Millennium of the Athonite Monastic State, or the thousand year anniversary since the establishment of monasticism on Mount Athos as it was officially recognized by the Roman Empire. On April 17th 1963 the icon arrived at Piraeus from Dafni of Mount Athos with the warship ASPIS. In Athens, it went up by roadway via Neo Faliros and Syngrou Avenue. After it was received by Archbishop Chrysostomos II in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it was taken in a procession to the Metropolis and placed in the Church of Saint Eleutherios, where it was venerated by thousands of the faithful, among them the then King Pavlos of Greece. It returned to Piraeus on April 25th 1963 where it boarded the warship PIRPOLITIS bound for Dafni of Mount Athos.

2. 1985 - The second time was in October of 1985 when it was brought to Thessaloniki, for the 2300 year anniversary since the founding of the co-capital city. This was also the year that the Co-Celebration of the Panagia and Saint Demetrios began again after hundreds of years, since they are both patrons of the city. To mark this special celebration, the Panagia of Axion Estin was brought from Mount Athos to Thessaloniki during what is known as the Great Week of Saint Demetrios, which is a week long celebration of Saint Demetrios leading up to his feast day.

3. 1987 - In November of 1987 the icon was brought to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, in conjunction with the arrival in Athens of Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios I.

4. 1994 - It was brought to Cyprus in October of 1994, to strengthen the Orthodox Christian faith of the faithful there and to bless and grace her people who have been suffering for decades.

5. 1999 - The fifth occasion took place in September 1999, at the initiative and request of Archbishop Christodoulos, when it arrived in Athens and kept in the Church of Saint Panteleimon after the great earthquake that took place. It was brought for the spiritual and material support of the earthquake victims. Their housing would take place in a settlement that would bear the name "Axion Esti", funded by the money raised with the arrival of the icon.

6. 2012 - It was decided by the Holy Community of Mount Athos following a request from Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, that for the events planned by the Metropolis, in the context of the celebration of 100 years since the liberation of Thessaloniki, the Panagia of Axion Estin would make a special appearance. The icon remained in the Church of Saint Demetrios from October 13th to November 1st and was venerated by more than 100,000 believers, Greeks and foreigners.

7. 2022 - The seventh occasion took place on the 6th of September 2022, in Komotini, where it remained for six days in the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, for the encouragement and strengthening of the people of Thrace and of all Greeks, especially due to the economic crisis, the pandemic and the fracturing of relations with the Turks. On September 7th the icon was received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Originally this was scheduled to take place in 2021, on the occasion of the 100 years of the liberation and integration of Thrace into the Greek nation, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this was not possible.

8. 2023 - We are now in the middle of the eighth occasion where the Panagia of Axion Estin has come out of Mount Athos as a special blessing for the faithful. It is scheduled to take place from May 3rd to the 15th and the icon will be venerated by the faithful at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. It is brought to Athens by an earlier request of Archbishop Hieronymos in order to brighten the 200th anniversary of the Revolution of 1821 with its presence. It was originally planned to come to Athens in 2021, but the Holy Synod decided to wait till after the pandemic had ceased and conditions permitted. 
To read more about this icon, see the links under its feast on June 11th here.
Arrival in Athens in 1963.
The veneration of the icon in 1963.

The arrival in Athens in 2023.



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