"Resurrection of Christ and Woman at the Tomb," Fra Angelico, 1442, Wikiart photo.
“Resurrection of Christ and Woman at the Tomb,” Fra Angelico, 1442, Wikiart photo.

My secret Easter pilgrimage to Mount
Athos, we left before first light by ships
Of sail to Port Klement, wave-traveling
As blessed Virgin when her boat storm-
Washed ashore, founding consecrated
Sacred gardens, visitation by women
Recently forbidden, 11th century A.D.

As mountain shepherdess, I tended my
Flock as Christ did his followers, and in
Dream-visions, Blessed Mother beckoned
Me to visit Holy Athos shores. My hair
Cut short, breasts bound tight, I donned
Makeshift monk’s robe, Neona became
Neonas, foot journey to sailing ships.

Once shipboard amongst religious men,
I was accepted as visiting monk, and with
Cross in hand, I quietly prayed, not for
Salvation but that my trespasses would go
Undiscovered, for as we approached the
Towering temples to God, I felt misgivings:
Mary’s watchful eye, trepidations of soul.

Accompanying fellow pilgrims, we took to
Mountain roads, prayerful hymns of praise,
Body and soul rising lofty heights. My legs
Accustomed to climbing twisting paths,
I helped older brothers on faithful ascent,
Resting to observe timeless beauty, monas-
Teries overlooking Greek cerulean seas.

"The Shepherdess," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, Wikiart photo.
“The Shepherdess,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, Wikiart photo.

With no official invitation, priests queried
Who I was. “Neonas, hermit shepherd monk,
Your grace, by dream-visions, Holy Mother
Beckoned me to Easter pilgrimage,” half-
Truths whispered facedown at their feet,
Fearing discovery, shepherdess trespassing
On Greek Orthodox Athonite mountain state.

When instructed to remove patchwork hood,
Priests recognized who I was, Neona, devout
Child of Christ. At nearby cedar grove, Blessed
Mary appeared bathed in light divine, to my
Mind she spoke in ethereal wind-song. “Tell
Them I am Immaculate Conception; they
Will understand these words.”

My vision acknowledged, priests permitted
Me to sleep one night in a hermit hut without
Punishment.  My vision witnessed by all,
They consecrated the grove “Holy Cedars of
Immaculate Conception, haven for those
seeking Blessed Mother’s guidance and
Christ’s salvation.”

When I returned to my mountain home and
My waiting flock, I dedicated a rock outcrop-
Ping, holy spring font, adorned with a statue of
Blessed Mary and wildflowers, garden for those
Seeking her guidance and Christ’s salvation,
Holy Mother’s light shining, for all are welcome
To visit her highland garden-shrine.

For more on Mount Athos, Garden of Virgin Mary,
Mother of Jesus Christ, click here:

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