The prototype of the Athonite icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick To Hear” (a copy of which is honored in the monastery church of St. Tikhon’s Monastery)’ is hung in a niche on the outside of the walls of the Athonite monastery of Dochiariou, in front of what used to be the monastery refectory. According to Athonite tradition, the icon was “written” during the lifetime of St. Neophytos, founder of the Monastery, who lived in the tenth century.
The first testimony to the miracleworking powers of this icon was revealed in an incident that took place near the refectory of the monastery. Before the icon was a passageway, through which the fathers generally passed on their way to the Refectory. The steward also passed that way in the performance of his duties, not only by day, but also by night. Sometimes, in the night, he would pass before this icon while carrying a burning torch. Once, in I664,this steward, Nilos, while passing by as usual, with the torch giving off soot, heard a voice coming from the icon, which said, “In the future, do not come here with a lighted torch and do not blacken my Image with soot.”
At first, Nilos was afraid of these words; but then, telling himself that one or another of the brothers had spoken to him, he wentback quickly to his cell, passing on as before. A voice came to him a second time from the icon, saying, “Monk, unworthy of this name! Will you go on much longer carelessly and shamelessly blackening my Image?” At these words, the Steward went blind, and then only did he understand whose words these were; and, sincerely confessing his sin, he deemed himself worthy of such punishment for his inattention to the words of the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos. The brothers of the Monastery learned what had happened, and consequently they placed a sanctuary lamp before the icon, and had it censed every night, while praying diligently that Nilos might receive back his sight. Day, and night he prayed fervently and wept before the countenance of the Divine Mary, the Mother of our Lord. With sincere tears of repentance he entreated forgiveness for his inattentiveness toward her voice and that he might be healed’ And she, as the Good Protectress, did not disdain the prayers of the blind man.
One day, while he was praying and weeping before the holy icon, he heard a voice: “Nilos! Your prayer has been heard. I forgive you and shall give back sight to your eyes. When you have received this mercy from me, announce to the brothers that I am their Protectress, the Guardian and Defender of this Monastery dedicated to the Archangels. Let them and all Orthodox Christians come to Me in necessities, and I will forsake not one of them. For to all who have recourse to me in veneration, I will be their Advocate, and all their petitions will be fulfilled by my Son and God, for the sake of my mediation before Him, for which reason My icon shall be called “She Who Is Quick To Hear;” for I shall speedily show mercy and fulfill the petitions of all who hasten to it.” Following these joyful words, Nilos received back his sight. Report of this miracle swiftly spread throughout the Holy Mountain and many monks, desiring to be eyewitnesses of this miraculous event which had been taken place in their time, came to the Monastery, where, with reverence, they prostrated themselves before the image of the Mother of God, and with amazement, saw the Steward who had been suddenly struck blind and then received back his sight. In the meantime, the brothers of the Monastery, by general consent, having prayed with sincerity and reverence to the Mother of God, closed up the passageway to the refectory. And having decorously enclosed the place where the holy icon was situated, to its right they erected a beautiful church in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick To Hear.”
After this, Moliebens (services of thanksgiving) were said every day, morning and evening, before her holy icon. In addition, there began the practice in which, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, after the dismissal of Vespers, a Priest, (assigned by rotation) would celebrate a special Service in the main Monastery Church, after which all the fathers and brothers, would proceed in order to the Wonderworking icon and sing a Canon of Thanksgiving to the Mother of God.’ The Priest would pray for all Orthodox Christians and for peace for the whole world. Since then, many miracles have been performed in connection with this holy icon: the blind have received their sight, the lame have walked, men have been rescued from imprisonment and shipwreck. Thus the Most Holy Theotokos fulfills the petitions of all Orthodox Christians that have recourse to her in faith, reverence, and with a contrite heart.
This present Icon in the Monastery Church of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk is an exact copy of the original Icon and was presented as a gift by the Fathers and Brothers of the Monastery of Dochiariou to the Monastery of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk at its founding. It is the beloved treasure of the Monastery and has worked many miracles and provides consolation for all who hasten to the Theotokos in faith and love. “…For Thou dost ever protects those who honor Thee.” (Kontakion to the Theotokos.)