The Icon of the Mother of God, named “Three-Handed” (Tri cheiroussa)

Commemorated on July 12/ June 28

      The Icon of the Mother of God, named “Three-Handed”: The wonderworking image, before which the Monk John (Saint John Damascene, Comm. 4 December) received healing of a cut-off hand, was given over by him to the Lavra of the Monk Sava the Sanctified. In the XIII Century the icon was situated in Serbia, and afterwards it was miraculously transported to Athos to the Chilandar monastery.

      The Icon of the Mother of God, named  “Of Three Hands” (“Tri cheiroussa): In the IX Century at the time of the Iconoclasts, Saint John Damascene (+ c. 780, Comm. 4 December) was zealous in his veneration of holy icons. Because of this, he was slandered by the emperor and iconoclast Leo III the Isaurian (717-740), who informed the Damascus caliph that Saint Monk John was committing treasonous acts against him. The caliph gave orders to cut off the hand of the monk and take it to the marketplace. Towards evening Saint John, having asked the caliph for the cut-off hand, put it to its joint and fell to the ground before the icon of the Mother of God. The monk begged Our Lady to heal the hand, which had written in defense of Orthodoxy. After long prayer he fell asleep and saw in a dream, that the All-Pure Mother of God had turned to him promising him quick healing. Before this the Mother of God bid him toil without fail with this hand. Having awakened from sleep, the Monk John saw that his hand was unharmed. In thankfulness for this healing, Saint John placed on the icon an hand fashioned of silver, from which the icon received its name “Of Three Hands”. According to tradition, the Saint wrote the hymn of thanksgiving to the Mother of God – “In thee of full of Grace all of creation rejoiceth”, which appears in place of the Mother of God hymn “It is truly meet” in the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

Saint John Damascene accepted monasticism at the Lavra monastery of the Saint Sava the Sanctified and there bestowed his wonderworking icon. The Lavra presented the icon “Of Three Hands” in blessing to Sainted Savva, ArchBishop of Serbia (+ 1237, Comm. 12 January). During the time of an invasion of Serbia by the Turks, Christians wanting to safeguard the icon entrusted it to the safekeeping of the Mother of God Herself. They placed it upon a donkey, which without a driver proceeded to Athos and stopped in front of the Chilandar monastery. The monks put the icon in the cathedral church. During the time of discord over the choice of hegumen, the Mother of God deigned Herself to accept to head the monastery, and from that time Her holy icon has occupied the hegumen’s place in the temple. And from that time at the Chilandar monastery there is chosen only a vicar, and the monks by monastic usage receive from the holy icon blessing in every obedience.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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