February 3

All-Holy Comforter, Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos, Macedonia, Greece

At a glance the Virgin seems about to kiss Christ's hand in this venerable icon, but the distinctive pose has another story: a miracle of January 21, 807. Before dawn, Algerian pirates landed and hid on shore below the monastery, waiting to attack when its gates opened. But the abbot heard a woman's voice coming from the icon: "Don't open the gates today, but go up on the walls and drive away the pirates." Looking up, he saw the child cover his mother's mouth and heard him say, "No, Mother. Let this sinful flock have the punishment they deserve." But the Virgin moved his hand enough to repeat her warning. The gesture remained on the icon, and the monks were saved. In thanksgiving, they burn a perpetual lamp before the holy image, known as Παναγια η Παραμυθια, Panagia Paramythia, All-Holy Lady of Legend, and Παρηγοριά, Paragoria, the Comforter. The story is something of a legend, as the historical founding of Vatopedi Monastery did not take place until the 900s. The icon is celebrated on January 21 in the old calendar, February 3 in the new. (Image and information from "Paramythia - Monastery of Vatopedi," Mount Athos, www.mountathos.gr.)  

Also commemorated this date:

bulletNuestra Señora de la Concepción, Suyapa, Distrito Central, Francisco Morazán, Honduras. Patron of Honduras.
bulletMamacha Carmen, Paucartambo, Cusco, Peru. Statue crowned by Pope John Paul II, 1985. Fiesta July 16.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly