The Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ and the most highly honored and beloved saint. She has four names in the Greek Orthodox church: Theotokos (Mother of God), Panayia (All Holy), Aiparthenos (Ever Virgin), and Despina (Our Lady). August 15 is one of the most important church holidays.
• Mary's tomb at the foot of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
• Miraculous icon at the Church of the Evangelistria on the island of Tinos
During the Byzantine Era, the total population exceeded 50,000. No women have ever been allowed on Mt. Athos. The Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is the "Patron Saint" of the Spiritual Republic of Mt. Athos. In one of the magnificent monasteries there is a huge icon on the Blessed Virgin Mary, which has been titled "Axion Esti", meaning 'it is worthy to bless Thee, the Virgin'. This beautiful icon was painted in the seventh century and has since graced the sacred walls of the Cathedral of Mt. Athos.
Axion Estin is the name given to the icon of the Theotokos ( Mother of God ). It stands in the high place of the altar (sanctuary) of the katholikon (main church) of Karyes on Mount Athos, Greece. According to tradition, an Elder and his disciple lived in in a cell on Mount Athos. One Saturday night the Elder left to attend the All-Night Vigil in Karyes. He told his disciple to chant the service alone. That evening an unknown monk who called himself Gabriel, came to the cell, and they began the Vigil together. During the Ninth Ode of the Canon, when they began to sing the Magnificat, the disciple sang the original hymn "More honorable than the Cherubim…" and afterwards the visiting monk chanted it again, but with "It is truly meet…" preceding the original Irmos. As he sang, the icon began to radiate with Uncreated Light. When the disciple asked the visiting monk to write the words of the new hymn down, he took a roof tile and wrote on it with his finger, as though the tile were made of wax. The disciple knew then that this was no ordinary monk, but the Archangel Gabriel. At that moment the Archangel disappeared, but the icon of the Mother of God continued to radiate light for some time afterward. Since that time the icon has been considered the protector of the Holy Mountain and its holiest object.