Among all the saints of the Heavenly Kingdom, the Blessed Virgin Mary stands as the most exalted of all God's creatures.
Affirming all that is found in the Holy Scriptures and confirming the dogma and traditions of the Orthodox Church, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the monks on Athos, the Holy Mountain, and inscribed into the stone with his finger the hymn... 'Axion Esti'.
Through the Holy Messenger the Heavens proclaim that Maria is 'more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim' and affirm Her rightful title as... 'Theotokos', the mother of God.
Concomitant, the Virgin carries the epithet of Panagia, All Holy, as She is the ultimate vehicle by which the purpose of the deity and the will of man is expressed. As the great 14th century theologian Nicholas Cabasilas wrote:
The Incarnation was not only the work of the Father, of His Power and of His Spirit, but it was also the work of the free will and the faith of the Virgin. Just as God became incarnate voluntarily, so He wished that His Mother should bear Him freely and with her full consent.
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word" Luke 1: 38 Bishop Kallistos Ware eloquently explains that. ..'We honor the Mother on account of the Son ... The Fathers of the Council of Ephesus insisted on calling Maria, 'Theotokos', not because they desired to glorify Her as an end in herself, apart from Her Son, but because only by honoring Maria could they safegaurd a right doctrine of Christ's person. Anyone who thinks out the implications of that great phrase, 'The Logos was made flesh', cannot but feel a certain awe for her who was chosen as the instrument of so surpassing a mystery. When men refuse to honor Maria, only too often it is because they do not really believe in the Incarnation.'
All the iconography is executed in the traditional Byzantine technique of tempera or secco, as was used from the 12th century. This method achieves the ecclesiastical deepness and richness of color so characteristic of Byzantine art from the Palaeologan era. Additionally, these time-tested methods have proven their durability over the centuries in the less than favorable environments of monastries and churches, which experienced drastic changes in temperature and moisture.