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Important Holy Mount Athos Russian Icon of Axion Estin Mother of God

The depiction is based on the image of the miracleworking icon Axion Estin ("It Is Truly Meet") Mother of God in the main church of Karyes on Holy Mount Athos considered the protector of the Holy Mountain and its holiest object. Crowned Theotokos is flanked by full-figured descriptions of St. Panteleimon, the Holy Patron of Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos and St. Eudokia of Heliopolis. On the back, the icon has a stamp of blessing from the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery on Holy Mount Athos and a handwritten inscription with a dedication from hieromonk Flegont to his Goddaughter Eudoka, dated 1910.  

Provenance: Sotheby's New York 1993

According to tradition, an Elder and his disciple lived in a cell on Mount Athos. One Saturday night the Elder left to attend the All-Night Vigil in Karyes. He told his disciple to chant the service alone. That evening an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, came to the cell, and they began the Vigil together. During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, when they began to sing the Magnificat, the disciple sang the original hymn "More honorable than the Cherubim…" and afterward the visiting monk chanted it again, but with "It is truly meet…" preceding the original Irmos. As he sang, the icon began to radiate with Uncreated Light. When the disciple asked the visiting monk to write the words of the new hymn down, he took a roof tile and wrote on it with his finger, as though the tile were made of wax. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. At that moment the Archangel disappeared, but the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward.


The Eleousa ("merciful") Icon of the Mother of God, before which the hymn "It Is Truly Meet" was first chanted, was transferred to the main church at Karyes, known as the Protaton. The tile, with the hymn written on it, was taken to Constantinople when St. Nicholas II Chrysoberges was Patriarch (984-996). The hymn became integrated into the Eastern Orthodox worship books and since then it plays an important role in everyday worship, being chanted in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and recited at the Compline.

Father Flegmont (Fedor Lebedev 1875-1955), was a hieromonk of the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos for over 50 years and served as the monastery's sacristan and chronicler. His chronicles, profusely illustrated by photographs, are compiled into 50 large volumes and document the Monastery's life in the first half of the 20th century. 

Additional Info

  • ID#: 10-RSMIS-42
  • Size: 10 1/2 x 8 3/4 in (27 x 22 cm)
  • Age: ca. 1910
  • Origin: Holy Mount Athos
  • Materials: Egg tempera and gilding on gessoed wood in gilt silver revetment cover
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Orthodox Cross
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