One of the most beautiful and famous icons in the Serbian Orthodox Church is the Three-Handed Mother of God. According to a legend, in the 8th century the wonder-working icon healed the hand of John of Damascus , when it was cut off on the order of the caliph of Damascus (Damascus, a city in today’s Syria, caliph – ruler). Venerable John of Damascus fought against iconoclasts in writing and in spoken words, but was slandered with the Arabic authorities and as a result unfairly punished. The Blessed Mother of God healed him while he was praying in pain before the icon. Out of gratitude for the bestowed mercy, he added the third, silver hand on the icon, after which it gained its name the Three-Handed. The icon is mostly covered with silver and gold decorations.
RELIGION AND TRADITION
The miracle-working icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God is celebrated in the Serbian Orthodox Church on 25 July (12 July by the Julian Calendar)
After he was miraculously healed, St John of Damascus became the Father of the Church at the monastery of St Sabbas the Sanctified, and the Holy Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God remained with him all the time. Before he died, he left in his will that the icon should be given to a king’s son who, according to a St Sabbas the Sanctified prophecy, would be coming one day to the monastery as a pilgrim. Thus, five centuries later, the Three-Handed Mother of God comes to the hands of a king’s son, the archbishop of all the Serbian lands – Sava, along with the icon of the Mother of God the Milk-Giver and the staff of St Sabbas the Sanctified. Even today wonders occur around the icon. It is kept in the Serbian monastery of Hilandar on Mount Athos.