South Ossetia Conflict Linked to Swinging Lamp on Athos

From (as ever) Interfax:

A silver lamp before royal doors in the cathedral of the Iveron Monastery in Mount Athos started swinging back and forth early in August not long before Georgian troops attacked Tskhinvali.

Athos monks claim that the icon-lamp has started swinging by itself during many centuries on the eve of great disasters and trials, the Zhizn daily writes.

The lamp was swinging before the six-day war in Israel, an earthquake in Armenia, and before American troops invaded Iraq it was swinging so much that oil almost splashed out, the paper says…

The supposed “swinging lamp” of Iveron has been remarked on before; according to this site

on Athos, when during Passion Week a lamp in the monastery of Iveron often swings by itself, it has been noticed that the swinging is reduced in size whenever the monks chant too loud.

The lamp is associated with an icon, the Panagia Portaitissa or Theotokos Iverskaya, which is believed to have miraculous properties (weeping myrrh, moving around). A woman whose cousin is a monk at the monastery wrote on a discussion forum that

There have been many recorded miracles associated with this icon and the monks and visitors have seen the oil lamp that hangs in front of it swaying just before certain events. The whole matter has been scientifically examined and there is no explanation for why this happens i.e. geographic faults under the monastery or whatever, or abnormalities in the building itself. Only the oil lamp in front of the icon sways, all the other hanging oil lamps in the church are still, so it is something of a mystery.

Meanwhile, a pro-Russian cleric in South Ossetia claims that the Virgin Mary showed up in person to rally morale against the Georgians:

Many residents of Tskhinvali saw the Holy Virgin during the most violent battles, Bishop Georgy (Pukhate), head of the Alania Diocese acting in the territory of South Ossetia and not recognized in the Orthodox world.

“She was seen in long garments. She mournfully passed along the streets. She was seen in the evening and at night in places of most violent and cruel battles. Militiamen realized, the Holy Virgin didn’t leave the city to save it from total destruction. She came to help us,” Bishop Georgy said in his interview published on Tuesday by electronic paper

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