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From among the saints commemorated on the 17th of October, we especially remember the "Deliverer" Icon of the Mother of God.

 

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At the beginning of the XIX century the remarkable ascetic Constantine Theodoulos was loving as a monk on Mount Athos. This Elder had a wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos, which had been painted about 150 years before. After this ascetic's repose, the Icon was passed on to Constantine's disciple, Schema-monk Martinian, who arrived on Mount Athos from Greece in 1821.

Early in 1841 Father Martinian left the Holy Mountain and went to the town of Mavrovonē in the diocese of Sparta, where many miracles were about to take place.

The residents of that place were afflicted by a terrible disaster: their fields, forests and almost all the vegetation was devastated by locusts. Moving forward in a solid mass, they destroyed everything in their path. Their flight took them right to the city of Marathon. The local authorities drove the residents out of their homes into the fields, forcing them to collect the destructive insects, dump them into pits, and then burn them, but all these measures were ineffective. It seemed that the more locusts they killed, the more their numbers increased.

People lost all hope for human assistance, so they chanted a Moleben, but the disaster did not end. Terrified, the villagers turned to Father Alexis, a man of God, who lived in a monastery near that unfortunate district. Taking some holy relics, this God-pleaser advised them to have a Moleben with a Cross Procession to their fields. The locusts, as if irritated by such actions, focused their attention on the worshippers. Countless insects attacked people, especially in their eyes. Both the residents and priests fled to their homes in horror.

Elder Martinian also learned about this disaster. After serving a Moleben, he spoke to the villagers: "Is our faith so weak that we cannot ask the Lord to help us? Let us intensify our prayers; at least let us gather the old men, and we will resort to the powerful intercession of the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Let us take her holy Icon and pray together, trusting in the Lord. He will not reject our humble prayer to Him, and, through the intercessions of His Mother, He will save this district from a great calamity."

The inhabitants followed the pious Elder's suggestion, with confidence in the merciful intercession of the Mother of God, they gathered not only old men, but also husbands, wives and even children. There were also four priests. The Cross Procession followed the Elder, who carried the holy Icon, and went into the field. There Father Martinian placed the Icon on the ground, and all the villagers bowed before it in supplication. The Sovereign Lady did not reject the prayers of the faithful servants of her Son and our God. She drove the locusts away. Suddenly, a great flock of birds appeared, rushing swiftly at the insects. The locusts rose from the fields and flew in such a thick mass that they obscured the sunlight.

Later, in the village of Mavrovonē there was a boy who was very sick, and his illness was getting worse. His parents asked the priest to bring him Communion. For some reason, however, the visiting priest did not hurry, and he did not arrive for a long time. He took the Holy Gifts and went to the boy's house. He had invited Elder Martinian to come with him. When they arrived at the house, they were shocked by the news that boy was already dead. The priest was filled with deep remorse, since his procrastination had deprived the child of his final spiritual consolation. The only hope left to them was to trust in God's mercy.

The priest asked Father Martinian to bring his Icon so they could pray to the Queen of Heaven for the boy. The Elder, seeing the deep faith of the priest and the devastated parents, took out the holy Icon which he always kept with him and placed it over the child's bed. Confident that nothing is impossible for the Sovereign Lady, the Elder, the priest, and parents bowed before the Icon, begging her to restore the child to life. After praying for a time, the Elder touched the dying boy three times with the Icon, and suddenly the child opened his eyes. At Father Martinian's request, the boy was given Holy Communion, and then got up perfectly well. The next day he went to school, where he had been sent shortly before this for his primary education. Later, the boy who returned to life was tonsured in a foreign country with the name Alexis, and for a long time he lived an ascetical life on Mount Athos.

News of this glorious miracle spread far through the neighborhood. Many people who suffered from physical and spiritual infirmities flocked to the Icon of the Mother of God with faith. The Elder's tiny home was always crowded with people and he decided to hide from them, but they found him again.

Father Martinian would not have minded visiting the sick with the Icon if their reverence for the Mother of God had not been mixed with a desire to glorify the Elder as well. He thought he should retire to a place where no one would find him. Therefore, he went by the sea shore and soon, above the ocean, he found a sheer rock with a cave, which was quite suitable for his ascetical struggles. Father Martinian thought he was completely secluded there. However, the good will of the Most Pure Virgin had arranged things otherwise.

One night the ascetic was praying in the cave. Suddenly, he heard a voice ordering him not to hide the Icon, but to minister to the needs of others. He tried to protest his unworthiness, and his infirmity, but the voice told him even more insistently to be obedient, saying that all this was for the glory of the Mother of God. When the Elder had finished his prayer, he decided to rest for a short time. Suddenly, at that moment, the cave was illumined with an extraordinary light. Surprised, the Elder came out onto the rock, desiring to know the source of such extraordinary radiance. The ascetic beheld a wondrous sight. He saw a pillar of light stretching from the sky to the ground, and in doing so, he heard again the same voice commanding him to leave his solitude and to go serve his neighbors. Thus, the ascetic opened his door to the residents of that vicinity.

There was a possessed woman named Elena, who used to shout all the time that she knew where the Elder was hiding. At the same time, she declared that only his Icon could heal her. The demon who possessed the woman was very fierce. He exposed the secret sins of all those who came to see Elena. One devout priest decided to read the prayers of exorcism over her no matter what happened. For that reason he went to Elena's house. Immediately, the woman attacked the priest and began to vilify the one who served at the altar, saying: "Aha! So you want to expel me? Are you thinking of casting me out? No, you cannot expel me, you will never drive me out. Look to yourself!"

Despite all the demon's words the priest continued to read the prayers, and asked the demon possessing the woman to reveal who could banish him. Against his will, the impure spirit spoke of a solitary Elder with an Icon, calling the ascetic a ragamuffin, an evil monk, and so on. Then the priest asked the demon where he might find this Elder. Then the demon, forced by the priest's prayers and by the power of God, revealed where Father Martinian was hiding.

The morning after the vision the Elder heard the sound of a large crowd of people gathered before the rock and begging him to come down to them to help the suffering. Seeing God's will in all this, the Elder obeyed and went to the homes of the villagers. First of all, he went to see Elena. As he approached her dwelling, she fell down unconscious and began to scream. When the Elder entered the house, he put down the Icon of the Mother of God and bowed before the Icon. At once, the demon came out of the woman with great moaning. She returned to her senses and fervently thanked the Theotokos. After this she felt quite well. Many other demoniacs were also healed by praying before her Icon.

Because of all the miracles taking place before the Icon, people were always in Father Martinian's home. The Elder finally decided to return to his monastery. When the people learned of his departure, they followed him for some distance. With a great cry they parted from the Elder as he walked away from them, carrying the Icon of the Mother of God, who had poured forth so much grace on their district.

In 1884, soon after he arrived on the Holy Mountain and entered the monastery of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Father Martinian went to the Lord. Then the holy Icon of the Mother of God became the monastery's precious heritage. The revered Icon remained there until July 20, 1889, when Archimandrite Makarios, the Superior of Saint Panteleimon's Monastery, gave the Deliverer Icon as a blessing to the newly-built New Athos Monastery of Saint Simon the Canaanite in the Caucasus The Icon has been there from 1889 until the present day.

The first celebration of the transfer of the Icon to New Athos Monastery took place on October 17, 1889. That is why the Feast Day in honor of this Icon was established on this day. About that time a storm cast more than a ton of fish ashore at the monastery.

In this Icon the Most Holy Theotokos holds the Divine Child on her right arm, and He blesses with His right hand.

The Deliverer Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on October 17, and on April 4.