November 22

Mother of God “Quick to Hear,” Docheiariou Monastery, Mt. Athos, Macedonia, Greece


Gorgoepikoos icon in Docheiriou Monastery, with gold cover and jewels given in thanks for answered prayers, from "Gorgoepikoos - Monastery of Docheiariou,"  www.mountathos.gr. The Quick to Hear Icon is sometimes listed, and even depicted, as a "sign" type, with the Child in a circle on the Virgin's breast, but in fact it is a Hodegetria or way-pointing image, the Virgin's right hand gesturing toward her Son. 

St. Neophytos, who wrote the rule for the Docheiriou Monastery on the west coast of the Mt. Athos peninsula, is said to have had the Mother of God's image painted on the monastery wall outside the refectory door around 1110. The image resided in silent obscurity with the monks for over 500 years. Then in 1664, as the refectory steward, Neilos, walked by it with a lighted torch, a voice said, "Stop dirtying my icon with your smoke." Neilos disregarded the comment, taking it for a prank, and continued to go to and from his place of duty by torchlight. But the next time the voice from the image scolded him, he lost his sight. The monks appointed a new steward and hung a votive lamp by the painting, before which Neilos begged pardon for weeks. Finally the voice came again: “Monk, your prayer to me has been heard; be forgiven and receive your sight as before. ... From now on let the monks fly to me for their every need, and at once I will listen to them and to all Orthodox Christians who approach me with reverence, for I am called Quick to Hear.” The Quick to Hear Icon (in Greek, Γοργοεπήκοο, Gorgoepikoos) soon became an object of devotion for monks from all over the Holy Mountain. Its hallway was sealed and the image (or a copy) installed in an adjacent chapel. The fame of the miracle-working icon spread through Greece, where the feast of the All-Holy Quick Hearer is celebrated along with that of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God on October 1 (or the modern calendar equivalent, October 14, by Greek Orthodox churches in the U.S.). In the 1800s, the devotion spread to Russia, where the Mother of God Quick to Hear (Скоропослушница, Skoroposlushnitsa) is celebrated on St. Neophytos' day, November 9, the old calendar date observed by many Orthodox churches (e.g. Antiochan and American). Many other Russian Orthodox churches use the modern calendar equivalent date, November 22. (Information from "St. Spyridon Orthodox Church," www.saint-spyridon.com/msg1004.htm, and other sources.)   

 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly