Bulgaria Welcomes Copy of Miraculous Virgin Mary Icon
Hundreds flocked to welcome the arrival of a copy of the miraculous Dostoino Est icon of Virgin Mary from Mount Athos into Bulgarian capital's main cathedral, St. Alexander Nevsky.
The icon arrived Saturday evening, as part of events to celebrate 130 years since laying down the foundational stone to the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the centennary of its completion, and the 98th anniversary of Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Maxim, which all fall in 2012.
Two prior copies have been made of the Dostoino Est icon from the cathedral of Karyes on Mount Athos - one for the Finnish and one for the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The name of the icon - Dostoino Est in Church Slavonic, Axion Estin in Greek, and It Is Truly Meet in English - comes from the first line of a hymn devoted to Virgin Mary, which was supposedly revealed by Archangel Gabriel to a novice monk in the presence of the icon.
As the monks sang the yet unheard hymn, the icon began to irradiate with Uncreated Light, says Christian Orthodox church tradition.
The English text of the hymn runs thus: "It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim. Without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word. True Theotokos, we magnify thee."
It is chanted especially in morning services and at the Divine Liturgy, and is very much venerated by Orthodox Christians.
The copy of the icon, which will remain in Bulgaria forever, has been painted by the monk Ephrem from the Esphigmenou monastery in Mount Athos. The icon's casket was crafted by Bulgarian carver Ivaylo Elshishki.
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