November 25

Mother of God of Mercy, Kykko, Nicosia, Cyprus

The tradition connected with this icon holds that the Archangel Gabriel gave Mary some wood from the Tree of Life. She gave it to St. Luke, who used it to paint three images of her holding the Christ Child. When she saw the one now in Cyprus, she said, "May the grace of Him Whom I bore be with it." Luke sent the icon to the Christians in Egypt (or Antioch), from whence it came to Constantinople in the 400s. 

Kykko icon, 1520 copy, from "The Mother of God 'the Merciful'," www.ukrainian-orthodoxy.org
In thanks for curing his daughter, Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus (1080-1118) gave it to Isaiah the hermit, who installed it in the monastery he built at Kykko, deep in a gorge in the Troodos Mountains, according to the prophecy of a Greek-singing bird: "Kykkou, Kykkou, Kykkos' hill -- / A monastery the site shall fill. / A golden girl shall enter in / And never shall come out again." Since 1576 the holy icon has been completely covered in silver and gold. A brocade veil over the Virgin's face depicts her hidden portrait. From earlier copies, the image of the Kykkotissa spread throughout the Orthodox churches, which celebrate her feast day November 12, or November 25 in the modern calendar. The other two icons, now at the Greek monasteries of Panagia Soumela in Kastania, Thessalonica, and Mega Spileo near Kalavryta, Achaea, are celebrated August 15 / 27.

 

 
Covered icon in Kykko Monastery, from "Rare Portraits of the Blessed Virgin Mary," St. Gawargios & St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt, www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly