Saint Nicholas of the Oyster Icon

at Stavronikita Monastery, 1553

Mosaic St Nicholas Icon
Mosaic St. Nicholas Icon, Stavronikita Monastery
Card: St. Nicholas Center Collection
Story icon
Icon of the Miraculous Icon
Photo: Mystagogy

One of Mount Athos' monasteries is called Stavronikita and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. The monastery was originally dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

During the Iconoclastic controversy, monks threw many icons into the sea so they wouldn't be damaged by the Iconoclasts.

After the monastery was burned by the Corsairs, Patriarch Jeremiah the Elder started to rebuild it in the name of St. John the Baptist. While under construction, the monks were fishing with nets in the sea. When they hauled their nets in, they found an icon of St. Nicholas. An oyster was stuck in the face of St. Nicholas.

When they pulled the oyster out, blood ran from the wound where the oyster had been in the icon. Because of this miracle, the icon was named Agios Nikolaos O “Streidas” (Saint Nicholas of the Oyster). That is still the name of the icon.

The icon is very old and very unusual. It is mosaic, not painted on wood. It is unusual to have small mosaic icons mounted on wood.

The sign in front of the icon says:

This icon came from the sea, because it was thrown therein at the time of Iconoclasm, and because of the long time it was in the sea an oyster was embedded in the forehead, and 'o streidas' was how it was called, and it is gilded beautifully in gold leaf.

When the Patriarch saw the miracle of this icon, he changed the dedication of the new monastery under construction to St. Nicholas, and not the Forerunner. The Patriarch used one half of the oyster shell as a diskos for the elevation of the Panagia on the Holy Altar. The other half was made into an engolpion with an icon of the Theotokos on it. It is now in the sacristy of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

This miracle happened in 1553. The St. Nicholas icon is in the Monastery of Stavronikita and is one of the miraculous icons of Mount Athos.

Source: John Sanidopoulos Mystagogy.

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