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Miraculous Icon of the Mother of God "It is Truly Meet"

A Heavenly Hymn to the Mother of God

the Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet”

“Truly it is meet, rejoicing without ceasing, to call you blessed, O Ever-blessed and Most Pure, and Mother of our God, taught now by the Angel, O Pure Virgin Theotokos!”
(Troparion of the 9th Ode from the Canon to the Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet”)

The Most Holy Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, is glorified both on earth and in the heavenly realms. No Orthodox service is complete without the well-known hymn “It Is Truly Meet” dedicated to the Most Pure. Even the youngest children know and love this prayer, and sing it joyfully both in church and at home. From time immemorial, it has been chanted in the churches of Byzantium and Rus’, Iberia and the Holy Land. In the 8th century, the divinely inspired hymnographer St. Cosmas, Bishop of Maiuma, composed the irmos of the 9th Ode of the Triodion for Great Friday: “More honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption you gave birth to God the Word, true Theotokos, we magnify You.”

St. Cosmas, Bishop of Maiuma, fresco from the 14th century in Chora Monastery

St. Cosmas, Bishop of Maiuma, fresco from the 14th century in Chora Monastery, Byzantium

On 24 June (11 June) 982 AD, words were added to this prayer that perfectly express the majesty of the Mother of God. According to Church Tradition, an extraordinary service took place on this day in a humble Athonite cell. A monk was praying alone while his elder had gone to a festive vigil in Karyes. As evening prayers were being offered before the icon of the Queen of Heaven “Merciful,” there was a knock at the gate.

The Cell of “It Is Truly Meet,” Mount Athos

The Cell of “It Is Truly Meet,” Mount Athos

At the door stood an unfamiliar monk, whom the kind novice welcomed warmly before continuing with Matins. During the singing of “More honourable than the Cherubim,” the guest unexpectedly suggested that they first magnify the Queen of Heaven with these words: “It is truly meet to bless You, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure and the Mother of our God.” As this new hymn was sung, a wondrous light emanated from the icon, filling the monk’s heart with tender emotion and bringing tears of grace. He asked the stranger to teach him this hymn. Finding no paper, the guest inscribed the words on a stone tablet with his finger, which became soft as wax under his touch. “The humble Gabriel…” replied the stranger when asked his name by the monk, and then he vanished from sight.

Copy of the Icon “It Is Truly Meet. Merciful” with scenes from its history, Holy Mount Athos

Copy of the Icon “It Is Truly Meet. Merciful” with scenes from its history, Holy Mount Athos

The spiritual elders of Holy Mount Athos glorified God upon hearing the humble monk’s account and examining the stone tablet inscribed with the prayer. They unanimously recognised in the unknown monk none other than Archangel Gabriel — the guardian, herald, and singer of praises to the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos.

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“Gather together, rejoice, celebrate brightly, for Gabriel Divine appeared to a monk now in monastic guise, proclaiming first in Mount Athos the hymn to the Mother of God, who has acquired Her as an Intercessor.”
(Svetilen Hymn)

The Miraculous Icon “It Is Truly Meet” in the Dormition Cathedral in Karyes

The Miraculous Icon “It Is Truly Meet” in the Dormition Cathedral in Karyes

In memory of this event, 24 June has been annually celebrated as a feast day for the icon before which this prayer was revealed to us. Both the icon and the cell have since been known as “It Is Truly Meet.” Today, this icon resides in the Dormition Cathedral in Karyes. During Bright Week on Holy Mount Athos, a solemn procession with this miraculous image takes place.

Procession with the Icon “It Is Truly Meet,” Karyes, 1913

Procession with the Icon “It Is Truly Meet,” Karyes, 1913

In the Russian Orthodox Church, the miraculous icon “It Is Truly Meet” has been venerated for centuries. Numerous copies exist, and many churches and chapels have been erected in its honour. One such copy resides in the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Cathedral in the town of Glubokoye, Belarus. According to an inscription, this icon was a gift from the Russian monks of Mount Athos to Father Euthymius Divolovsky, rector of the church in Glubokoye, located in the Lithuanian Diocese, Vilna Province, Disna County. The inscription reads: “A gift to the rector of the church in honour of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos in Glubokoye, Lithuanian Diocese, Vilna Province, Disna District, Priest Euthymius Divolovsky with his clergy and congregation for this church as an inalienable possession, a blessing from Holy Mount Athos to this temple, its parishioners, pilgrims, benefactors, and all Orthodox residents of the surrounding area…” Documents gathered by the cathedral’s rector in Glubokoye, Protopriest Seraphim Gogolushko, reveal that the icon was brought to the church in June 1911 during a grand procession involving numerous clergy.

The Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet” in Glubokoye, Belarus

The Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet” in the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Cathedral in Glubokoye, Belarus

On 16 June 1999, a copy of the icon was delivered to the Moscow Metochion of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra from Holy Mount Athos. This copy was crafted by the monks of St. Nicholas Skete (“Belozersky”).

Church in Honour of the Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet” in Vladimir Region

Church in Honour of the Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet” in Vladimir Region

“O most-hymned Mother, who gave birth to the Holiest Word, praised by Angels in Heaven and glorified by humans on earth! Graciously accept this small supplication of ours and grant spiritual salvation and bodily health to all who faithfully honour Thee and sing to God: Alleluia.”
(Ikos 13 of the Akathist Hymn to the Icon of the Mother of God “It Is Truly Meet”)

Through the prayers of the Ever-Blessed and Most Pure Mother of God, may we also be deemed worthy of God’s mercy!

This material was prepared by the editorial team at obitel-minsk.ru

Photos drawn from the internet

Sources used in preparing this article:

1. “O Thee Rejoices: Miraculous Icons of the Mother of God,” compiled by N. Dmitrieva. Moscow, 2004.
2. “Orthodox Encyclopedia,” edited by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. Moscow, 2007. Vol. XVI.
3. “The Heavenly Cover over Athos or Tales of the Holy Miraculous Icons Glorified on Athos.” Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, 1997. (Reprint of the 1902 edition).
4. “The Historical Cell ‘It Is Truly Meet’ on Athos | News from Athos (athos.guide)”

June 11, 2024
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