The Synaxis of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is celebrated today for the following reason: In 980, during the reign of Emperor Basil II, when Nicholas Chrysoberges was Ecumenical Patriarch, the holy Archangel Gabriel appeared in the guise of a monk to the disciple of a certain elder living in a hermitage belonging to the Monastery of Pantocrator on the Holy Mountain. During Matins, after the monk had chanted the customary hymn, "More honorable than the Cherubim . . . ," composed by Saint Cosmas the Hymnographer, the Angel chanted the same hymn, but with the following prelude: "It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, the ever-blessed and all-immaculate and Mother of our God." Marveling at the hymn's beauty, the monk asked his visitor - who appeared also to be a monk - to record this new text in writing, which the Angel did by miraculously inscribing the words on a piece of slate, using only his finger, and straightway he vanished from sight. This slate was brought to the Church of the Protaton, and from thence to Constantinople, to the imperial court and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as evidence of the miracle. Henceforth, this version of the hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos began to be chanted in the Divine Liturgy in all the churches. The place where the miracle took place is now called Adein, from the Greek word which means "to sing." The icon itself, before which this hymn was first chanted, is called "the icon of the Axion estin" ("It is truly meet") and it is kept in the sanctuary of the Church of the Protaton on the Holy Mountain.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ye hosts of the Fathers of Mount Athos, gather today, and shout with a voice of jubilation, leaping for joy, and faithfully keeping feast: For, behold, the praise of the most pure Theotokos wondrously and awesome is sung by the Angel; and therefore, as the Mother of God, we glorify her name.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
All of Athos keepeth feast this day in gladness; for it wondrously received from an Archangel's holy hand the hymn whereby thou hast ever been praised as the Mother of God, as is truly meet.
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