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The Quick to Hear: a Rare Icon of the Mother of God from Zograf Monastery


This icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is located in Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos. The name of the icon is explained by the following miracle.

When Saint Cosmas of Athos was still young and lived in Zograf Monastery, he visited Vatopedi Monastery on the Annunciation Day. He spotted a beautiful and majestic Woman in the church during the service and in the refectory during a meal. Saint Cosmas was embarrassed and unable to explain how She appeared on Mount Athos where no female had ever stepped and why monks of that monastery allowed Her presence. Carried away by these thoughts, he returned to Zograf and went to his elder. The elder saw that his disciple was baffled and asked him:

“Why are you so sad and wistful?”

Cosmas told him what he had seen in Vatopedi Monastery and honestly shared with the elder all his doubts and thoughts about the Woman that he had seen among the monks of that monastery.

“What did that Woman look like? What did She wear?” the elder asked again.

Cosmas described Her appearance in detail. The elder sighed and told his disciple:

“You failed to recognize the Female that appeared to you in the monastery, didn’t you? Now, listen: she wasn’t a mere mortal woman. She was the Queen of our Holy Mountain and all creation.”


Soon afterwards, Saint Cosmas was alone in the church. He started praying fervently to the Mother of God and exclaimed:

“O Most Holy Theotokos, please pray to your Son and God so that He would lead me to the route of salvation!”

Hardly did he utter these words that he heard the voice of the Theotokos:

“O my Son and my God! Teach Thy servant how to be saved!”

Then Cosmas heard an immediate response to Her prayer:

“He must leave the monastery and live in solitude.”

Cosmas followed that revelation. Having received his abbot’s blessing, he went to a neighboring desert, dug a cave, and spent the rest of his life in that cave carrying out his monastic duties. He was rewarded by the Lord with the gift of miracles.

The icon in front of which Saint Cosmas prayed and from which he heard the voice, is called “She who is quick to hear.” It is located in a niche in the east wall of the sanctuary of the cathedral church of Zograf Monastery.

Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds

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