The original of the icon of the Mother of God called “Portaitissa”, or “Of the Portal,” is kept at Holy Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos. In the 9th century when the iconoclasts were destroying all the icons throughout Asia, devout Christians from Nicea put this icon into the sea to save it. To their amazement, the icon stood upright in the water and “sailed” away from sight. It appeared off the coast of the Athos peninsula in the rough waters by Iviron Monastery. A holy monk was called to bring the icon to land, which he did by walking over the waters and carrying it back.
The monks put the icon in a porch temporarily until a place could be found in the main church for it, but when it was moved to the church, the icon moved back itself many days in a row. The Virgin Mary then appeared to the abbot of the monastery in a dream and told him to leave her where she was so that she could look after him and all of the monks. This is the meaning of “Of the Portal.” Years later Turkish pirates overran the monastery and one of them struck the icon on the cheek with a dagger, which began to bleed. The amazed pirate repented and became a monk.