MOTHER OF GOD OF THE THREE HANDS
June 28 / July 12
The Icon of the Mother of God, "Of the Three Hands": In the ninth century during the time of the Iconoclasts, St. John of Damascus was zealous in his veneration of holy icons. Because of this, he was slandered by the emperor and iconoclast Leo III the Isaurian (717-740), who informed the Damascus caliph that St. John was committing treasonous acts against him. The caliph gave orders to cut off the hand of the monk and take it to the marketplace. Towards evening St. John, having asked the caliph for the cut-off hand, put it to its joint and fell to the ground before the icon of the Mother of God. The monk begged Our Lady to heal the hand, which had written in defense of Orthodoxy. After long prayer he fell asleep and saw in a dream that the All-Pure Mother of God had turned to him promising him quick healing.
Before this the Mother of God bid him toil without fail with this hand. Having awakened from sleep, St. John saw that his hand was unharmed. In thankfulness for this healing St. John placed on the icon a hand fashioned of silver, from which the icon received its name "Of Three Hands." (Some iconographers, in their ignorance, have mistakenly depicted the Most Holy Theotokos with three arms and three hands.) According to Tradition, St. John wrote a hymn of thanksgiving to the Mother of God: "All of creation rejoices in You, O Full of Grace," which appears in place of the hymn "It is Truly Meet" in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.
St. John Damascene accepted monasticism at the monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified and there bestowed his wonderworking icon. The Lavra presented the icon "Of Three Hands" in blessing to St. Sava, Archbishop of Serbia (+ 1237, January 12). During the time of an invasion of Serbia by the Turks, some Christians who wanted to protect the icon, entrusted it to the safekeeping of the Mother of God Herself. They placed it upon a donkey, which without a driver proceeded to Athos and stopped in front of the Hilandar monastery. The monks put the icon in the monastery's cathedral church (katholikon). During a time of discord over the choice of igumen, the Mother of God deigned to head the monastery Herself, and from that time Her holy icon has occupied the igumen's place in the temple. At the Hilandar monastery there is chosen only a vicar, and from the holy icon the monks take a blessing for every obedience.
From Palestine, the godly-minded Sava brought us your venerable icon, O holy Bride of God, which is known as the icon "Of the Three Hands"; and now, since the monks of Hilandar possess it as their boast, they send up hymns of praise and thanksgiving, crying out in exultation: Rejoice, O full of grace!
Come, let us revere the famed icon of the Queen of All, known as the icon "Of the Three Hands" because of the marvel which it wrought; and with fervent faith and longing let us cry out: O pure maiden, preserve your monastery and your flock from all dangers, tribulations and adversities, for we cry to you: Rejoice, O help and defense of all!
Source : Icon of the Mother of God of "the Three Hands" : Orthodox Church in America
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