Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our Lady of the Revelation. . .

April 12 - Apparition at Tre Fontane of Our Lady of the Revelation to Bruno Cornacchiola & his 3 children (Rome, 1947, approved in 1956)

The Myrrh-Streaming Icon (I)

In the 11th and 12th centuries, according to the legend, an icon was washed up by the sea and gently left on the shore of Athos close to the Iveron monastery. The icon represents the Mother of God carrying the Christ Child in majesty with one arm and with the other hand making a gesture to show that He is "the Way, the Truth and the Life".

The monks found the icon and carried it to the "catholicon", the church located in the center of the monastic buildings. On the following day it had disappeared from the sanctuary and was found on the wall beside the monastery gate. This recurred several times, so the monks built a small sanctuary for the icon on this very spot. The icon came to be known as the “Portaitissa” or “Gatekeeper”.

Many centuries later, in the early 1980s, an icon workshop was opened in a skete (small monastic community) dedicated to the Nativity. The first icon to be painted there was a copy of the “Portaitissa.”

Near the same date, a Chilean convert to Orthodoxy, Jose Munoz, an art teacher in Montreal, embarked on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos to come into contact with a monastery where icons are painted in the ancient Byzantine style using the egg tempera technique. He and his other companion directed themselves towards the skete mentioned above, where they were greeted warmly, offered traditional Athonite hospitality and invited to visit the icon-painting studio. There, Jose stopped dead in his tracks, flabbergasted, in front of the image of the "Portaitissa". It often happens that seeing an icon for the first time is like falling in love with someone who loves you too: it could be compared to a revelation or a vision. Monastic chastity predisposes to these spiritual “love at first sight” experiences.

Adapted from an article published in France Catholique Magazine, 30 May 1986 by Olivier Clément

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