The miraculous Icon of Panagia Vimatarissa or Ktitorissa is the premier Icon of the Holy Monastery of Vatopediou. It is placed at the central chair of the Holy Altar inside the main church (Katholicon) of the Monastery.
According to tradition, Arcadius, the young son of Theodosios the Great, Emperor of Rome, was involved in a ship wreck. He washed to shore and ended up under a bush under miraculous circumstances. He found this Icon under this bush. This site later became the site of the Monastery of Vatopediou and hence the name of the Monastery - The greek word for bush is Vatos and the Greek word for child is Pedi, Vato Pedi or Greek - Βατοπαιδιου. The Icon was placed in the Holy Altar of the Monastery when the Monastery was built. The Icon also receives the name Ktitorissa (the establisher) from this miracle.
The best known miracle of this Holy Icon is as follows. When Arab pirates decided to loot the Monastery (as was common practice in the 10th century), the Hierodeacon Savvas was the Vimataris (person responsible for the Holy Altar) of the main church (Katholikon). He managed to place the Icon in the well of the Holy Altar, together with the Cross of Constantine the Great and a lit lantern which was always placed before the Icon. He did not manage to save himself though, he was caught by the pirates and was sold as a prisoner on the island of Crete. 70 years later when Crete was liberated by the Emperor Nikiforos Fokas, Hierodeacon Savvas was also freed and immediately return to his Monastery.
Upon his return, he led the then Abbot of the Monastery Nicholas to the well inside the Holy Altar and instructed him to open it. It was a miracle! the Icon, and the Cross were found floating on the surface of the water and the lantern was still lit before the Icon, even though though it was lit 70 years before. The Icon also receives the name Vimatarissa because of the where it was placed for 70 years.
Ever since this occurrence, a Paraklesis service to Panagia is chanted before the Icon every Monday afternoon, and the Holy Liturgy is conducted in the main church (Katholikon) every Tuesday, apart from Sundays and major feasts of course, and all processions conducted at the Monastery, always have the Holy Icon of Panagia Vimatarissa or Ktitorissa first in line of the procession.
On the Tuesday after Easter each year, a procession of the Holy Icon is done around the Monastery in honour of Panagia.
Photos thanks to Pemptousia.gr, vatopedi.wordpress.com & pneymatiko.wordpress.com