There was a very virtuous couple who had great reverence for the Panagia. This couple had an icon of the Mother of God painted on one of the walls of their home. They had taken great care and had spent a good sum of money to ensure that it turned out impeccably beautiful, and, every time they passed by this holy icon, they would venerate it and recite the “Greeting of the Archangel.” On account of their good habit, the Panagia sent Her grace and many blessings into their lives. Indeed! They lived with such virtuous conduct, united in complete agreement with each other, and without ever quarrelling with or upsetting any of the neighbours, that everyone referred to them as “the peaceful ones.” This couple had a three year old child, who, seeing his father and mother frequently stopping to pray before the holy icon with reverence, also acquired this habit.
Eventually he learned the “Greeting of the Archangel” as well, and he would repeat this prayer each time he would pass by the icon. Of course, this was not on account of reverence, but out of habit. As an infant, he thought that the Panagia (who was depicted in the icon sitting on a throne) was the lady who owned the house. For this reason he respected Her and prostrated himself before Her, as he would see his parents do.
One day, while this child was playing with other children close to a river bank, (due in part to demonic spitefulness), he fell into the waters and vanished. The other children immediately ran to his mother and announced to her that her son had drowned. With many tears, the mother, followed by the neighbours, rushed to the river. When they arrived, two men dove waters, for the river was exceedingly deep. However, though they spent much time searching carefully, they did not find the child. In the meanwhile, as the mother stood further down the river, she unexpectedly saw her son sitting upon the water in the middle of the current, and she exclaimed, “My child, how are you?” The boy responded, “Good, The lady is holding me; I’m not scared.”
On account great joy at the time, the mother did not comprehend whom her son was referring to. When the people had retrieved the child from the river, they handed him to his mother, who returned to her home with ineffable joy.
Her husband, unaware of the events, happened to be returning home at the same time. When he heard what had happened, he asked the child to tell them how he had been saved. The child then pointed with his finger to the icon of the Theotokos and responded, “As soon as I fell into the river, the lady who is in our house came and grabbed me from the water. She held me until the people came to get me. At the sound of these words, everyone present was awestruck, especially when they saw the child pointing to the icon. They immediately fell to their knees, gave glory to the Ever-Virgin’s power, and continued for the remainder of the night offering up prayers and thanksgiving.
Even though he normally slurred his words and spoke unclearly not like all the other children his age, whenever anyone would ask the boy how he fell into the river, he would relate this miraculous event clearly and articulate, the words distinctly, causing all the listeners to marvel.
Of course, not only this child, but everyone who honours the sacred icons with faith and reverence is delivered from temporal dangers and becomes worthy of the ineffable, eternal bliss in the age to come. May we all achieve this, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom belongs all glory unto ages.
~ The Unrivalled Protectress, St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery NY