“While I was still a very young child, my father died. My mother quickly remarried and she and my stepfather put me into an orphanage. Later on, when I was older, they brought me out of the orphanage to live with them. My stepfather sent me out to sell lottery tickets to make money. At the end of each day he would take the money that I had earned, then he would abuse me and beat me badly. At one stage I felt much despair and said to myself “does God not exist for me”? I went to church to pray. Inside I went to venerate and kiss the feet of the icon of the Crucifixion. I am telling you this, and it still makes my hair stand on end… I felt I was kissing real feet, flesh!”
Source: Translated from the Greek book «Ασκητές μέσα στον Κόσμο, Τόμος Α» (Ascetics in the World, Volume 1), by the Monastery of St John the Forerunner, Mount Athos Press, 2008.
Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
The Most-holy Theotokos has often appeared to holy men in need: sometimes to encourage them in asceticism, or to heal them from sickness, or to reveal a certain mystery to them. Two similar, wonderful events took place in the Great Lavra on the Holy Mountain. In Great Lent, during the chanting of the Great Akathist, St. John Koukouzelis was tired and sat down, facing the icon of the Theotokos. As he sat, he fell asleep. Just then, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him in heavenly light and said: “Rejoice, O John! Chant and do not stop chanting, and for this I will not abandon you.” With this, she placed a gold coin in John’s hand. When he awoke from sleep, the gold coin was still in his hand. After this, many wonderful miracles were worked from the icon of the Theotokos, as well as from the gold coin.
The second incident involved St. Gregory the monk, who, like John Koukouzelis, was a church cantor. Patriarch Kallistos had established that in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” be sung in place of “It Is Truly Meet.” His successor, Patriarch Philotheus, rescinded this, reinstating “It Is Truly Meet” because of its brevity. But then, on the eve of the Theophany, and in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria, St. Gregory sang “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” instead. Immediately after this, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him, and, as she had done to John Koukouzelis, placed a gold coin in his hand. She said: “I am very grateful for your singing in my honor.” Because of this, it was instituted that all Liturgies of St. Basil would thereafter include “All Creation Rejoices in Thee.”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
A long while after St. Athanasios of Athos had started constructing the Great Lavra, he faced a great economic difficulty: he had neither the money to pay the craftsmen’s 1 wages, nor did he have any food. So he started out for Karyes the Holy Mountain’s capital, to find out what he ought to do.
After he had walked for two hours, suddenly there appeared before him a glorious lady, who asked him,
“Abba Athanasios, where are you going? Why have you abandoned the project which you have started, a project which pleases God? Go back and finish it!” Astonished, he looked at her with awe and asked,
“Who are you? My lady, how do you know me, and how do you order me to return? With what can I continue the monastery’s construction, since no means are left for it?” Then she told him that she was the Mother of God. She ordered him to return, and she promised that she would take care of the money and the food supplies. The saint asked her to give him a sign in confirmation of this.
“Here, hit with your staff this rock,” she told him, and i immediately fresh water sprang from the rock — which to this day is still flowing.
Saint Athanasios returned to his monastery where he found money, and his storage bins were full of food, even as the Theotokos had promised. With renewed desire and zeal he continued, and soon the monastery was completed, and he gave thanks and glory many times to her blessed name.
“An Athonite Gerontikon:, Sayings of the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O Virgin, we extol the great grace of thy Protection, which thou didst spread out like a bright cloud beyond all understanding; for thou dost invisibly protect thy people from the foe’s every assault. Since we have thee as our shelter and certain help, we cry to thee with our whole soul: Glory to thy great deeds, O most pure Maid. Glory to thy shelter most divine. Glory to thy care and providence for us, O spotless one.
O Champion General, we your faithful inscribe to you the prize of victory as gratitude for being rescued from calamity, O Theotokos. But since you have invincible power, free us from all kinds of perils so that we may cry out to you: Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.