This week’s icon, the Glykophilousa, or “Sweet Kissing” Icon comes to us from the Iconoclastic Period, the harsh campaign of banning and destroying icons, which continued during the reign of Emperor Theophilos.
A man named Simeon was a senator, and an Iconoclast. He was displeased with his pious wife Victoria’s continued veneration of icons, and he demanded that she give him the Glykophilousa icon, so that he might burn it.
In order to save the icon, Victoria threw it into the sea, where it miraculously stood upright upon the waves, before arriving on the shores of Mt. Athos, years later. There the Abbot and monks of the Monastery of Philotheou, who had been informed of its arrival in a vision of the Theotokos, greeted it with great joy.
The Glykophilousa belongs to the “Eleousa”, the “Virgin of Tenderness” category of icons, which generally show the Theotokos accepting the love demonstrated by the Christ Child. In this particular icon Christ embraces his mother, who returns the embrace as she inclines toward him, wearing a very affectionate expression.
The miracles brought about this icon are numerous. A select one involves a pilgrim visiting the monastery in 1830. The pilgrim scoffed at the miraculous nature of the icon. The monk who relayed these stories was very sad at the man’s disbelief, but could not convince him. The following day, the pilgrim slipped and began to fall off of an upper balcony. As he fell, he cried out for the Holy Theotokos to save him. Our Lady heard his plea and came to his aid, when he fell to the ground completely unharmed.