The cross with icons of The Lord Almighty, the icon of the Mother of God “Comfort and Consolation” and eight saints has a traditional shape of old Russian Novgorod crosses. The image of Christ on the cross obverse symbolizes the Lord as the master of human destinies, as rectoral and omnipotent God. In His hands He holds the Book of Life where everyone has a page of one’s own. Near Christ there are the saints, the men of prayer, and defenders of human beings before Him.
At the cross top we see St. Tikhon. The Holy Patriarch (1865-1925), who became the leader of Russian Orthodox Church in troubled 1917. In time of civil war and terrible persecution of Orthodox he assumed all hardships of Church, having preserved Christian ideals of love and good. When the Holy Hierarch was suggested leaving Russia, he answered that he cannot desert his children: Bolsheviks are his children as well, and the parents love a sick child more. And he became a martyr of the theomachic rule. In his humility and deeds the Holy Patriarch trusted in the Mother of God Who had always protected and strengthened him. He even passed away to God under Her veil, on April 7, just on the Annunciation Day.
At the cross foot there is the image of St. Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov (1651-1709), the author of multivolume “Menologion” (Lives of Saints), and of the Book of the wonders by the Most Holy Mother of God. Several stories from it became iconographic subjects for new icons of the Mother of God.
To the right and to the left of the Saviour icon there are images of the Byzantine saints – Gregorius Palamas and Dionysius the Areopagite. The Holy Hierarch Gregorius, the Archbishop of Thessalonica (1296-1359), spent many years at the Holy Mt. Athos in the hermitage of St. Sabbas. There he wrote multiple of books that became the theology of the Orthodox sanctity and asceticism. The Holy Hierarch as well said many words full of inspiration about the Most Holy Mother of God Whom he worshipped as the only one who reached the highest level of Godlikeness, and personified all images of sanctity.
St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the priest-martyr was an Athenian evangelized by Apostle Paul (Acts 17:34). He was first a priest and then the Bishop in his native town. St. John the Theologian, Apostle brought him into the house of the Most Holy Mother of God whose description full of inspiration he left for us. Later In the last year of his life he preached the Gospel first in Rome, and then in Paris wherein he was martyred before his nineties.
The cross reverse, as well as the obverse is decorated by images of the saints noted for their especial esteem of the Most Holy Mother of God. At the top there is the icon of St. Silvanus, the Elder of the Holy Mt. Athos (1866-1938). Thinking over the spiritual deed of the Mother of God he once asked the Lord: “Did not She never committed a sin?”. And got a reply: “Even in Her thoughts”. On the left we see St. Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833). During his life our Queen appeared before him time and again naming him tenderly “Favorite of mine”. On the right and at the foot there are images of Russian Princes Andrew Bogolyubsky (1110-1174) and Demetrius Donskoy (1350-1389), both having brought fame to Russian arms, struggling under the veil of the Mother of God icons. Prince Andrew was the first who took the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God to the campaign against Volga Bulgarians, and instituted the Feast of Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in honor of the victory over them.
Images of the saints surround the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God “Comfort and Consolation” that became famous in the Vatopedi Monastery of the Holy Mt. Athos.
On February 3, 2007 that was the 12th centenary of an amazing wonder that transformed that icon image, and gave it such an uncommon name. In 807 a gang robbers purposed to plunder the cloister but the Mother of God barred the villainous intention from commitment.
While saying the morning canon the Father Superior of that monastery heard a voice from the Mother of God icon: “Do not open the cloister gate today, but ascend to the walls and disperse the robbers”.
And the Father Superior saw the faces of Her and of the Infant on the icon revived. The enraged Infant covered His Mother’s mouth with His hand, saying that the monks deserve serious punishment for their sins. But the Mother of God turned Her face to the right, and repeated Her words. Horror-stricken Father Superior gathered the brethren and told them about the event. The monks turned to the icon, and were amazed to see that the images had changed their posture on the icon. Since then the Vatopedi icon had become famous under the name of “Comfort and Consolation”, images posture remaining the same as they had represented themselves during the miracle.