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You’ve probably never heard of this Marian title

Ikona Matki Bożej na górze Athos w Grecji

Predrag Lukic | Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 04/04/24

The Greek title Panagia Gorgoepikoos, “She Who Is Quick to Hear,” resonates with a profound invitation.

Among the rich and varied expressions of Marian devotion, the Greek title Panagia Gorgoepikoos, “She Who Is Quick to Hear,” resonates with a profound invitation: the invitation to listen.

It’s a reminder that the fundamental religious attitude lies not in speech or outward action, but in deep and receptive listening. In a vision-driven world where screens are ubiquitous, Scripture (both the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels) encourages people to hear. Both the Hebrew exhortation “Shemá!” and the evangelical phrase “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” point to the very condition of the possibility of knowing the divine: They invite believers to listen, and to listen attentively. 

The very word “obedience,” so central to religious life, contains the essence of listening. Its Latin root, ob-audire, simply means that: to listen. True obedience, then, isn’t just about compliance or action. It’s about cultivating a deep receptivity to the divine, a willingness to be formed by a voice beyond our own.

The Panagia Gorgoepikoos embodies this archetype of listening. Tradition depicts Mary as a woman deeply attuned to the divine; her “yes” at the Annunciation is a model of surrender to God’s whispered plan. In the legends of the miraculous icon of Gorgoepikoos, Mary often responds quickly to the heartfelt pleas of monks or sailors. She’s not only quick to hear, but quick to respond, showing that listening and acting go hand in hand.

Within the Dochieariu Monastery on Mount Athos resides a revered icon of the Panagia Gorgoepikoos.

Within the Docheiariou Monastery on Mount Athos resides a revered icon of the Panagia Gorgoepikoos. Legend tells of a refectory steward, Neilos, who routinely walked by the icon with a smoky torch. One day, a voice warned him not to obscure the image. Disregarding the warning, the monk was struck blind – he did not listen.

Remorseful, Neilos prayed relentlessly before the icon, begging for forgiveness and healing. His prayers were swiftly answered when a voice emanated from the image, restoring his sight. The voice further proclaimed the Virgin Mary as “Gorgoepikoos,” promising swift aid to those who seek her protection.

News of this miracle spread throughout Mount Athos, and the icon became a pilgrimage destination. The corridor was transformed into a chapel, and a dedicated priest-monk now attends to the pilgrims who seek the Virgin Mary’s intercession.

Now, the Gorgoepikoos’ quickness of response shouldn’t be confused with hurriedness. True listening isn’t just about registering sounds, it’s about discerning the deeper truths within them. Mary’s legendary response to the wine shortage at Cana illustrates this. Her instruction to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” points not to a hasty solution, but to a contemplative obedience born of her attentiveness.

In our own spiritual life, Panagia Gorgoepikoos invites us to cultivate a Marian heart. It’s a call to silence our inner voices, to quiet the fears and distractions, and to venture into deep listening. It is in this listening where we may find the divine voice that offers guidance, wisdom and the strength to truly respond – with our ears and our actions.

GreeceSaintsSpiritual LifeVirgin Mary
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