This icon of the Virgin Mary was painted in 1989 by the Monk Michael of the Holy Mountain of Athos, a monastic republic on a peninsula in northeastern Greece. The Holy Mountain is dedicated to the Orthodox monastic life and has flourished for over a thousand years with all forms of Orthodox monasticism present (hermetic, semi-hermetic, and communal) and made up of people of many Orthodox nationalities. Athos is also dedicated to the protection and rulership of the Virgin Mary as its icon and abbess.
Here in this icon the Virgin Theotokos (from the Greek “Birth-Giver of God”, a term of honor confirmed for her at the Third Ecumenical Council in a.d. 431 to refute the Nestorian Heresy) cradles her Son as He reaches up to touch her face with His blessed hand. In Christ’s halo are the Greek letters for “I AM” for although the Divine Infant is revealed as a Child, He is always the All-Knowing God depicted by the adult features of His face. The Child is here revealed as the Grace of all the world, and the Virgin is the bearer of this “Great Grace” which will transfigure us and make us holy if we will learn to cooperate and do all that He says.