The beeswax icon is hand-carved with great attention to details. Thanks to the addition of incense during the manufacturing process the icon exudes a light aroma, which is firmly associated in our minds with the calming atmosphere of church rooms.
The Holy Mandilion (from Greek μανδύλιον "cloth, towel"), or the Image of Edessa, is one of the images not made by hands, through which Jesus Christ performed one of his many miracles. In Edessa, in Mesopotamia, there once lived a king named Abgar, who suffered from an incurable disease, leprosy. His painter Ananias, who was traveling through Judea, heard about Christ and reported it to his master. The king gave the painter a letter to Jesus, asking Him to visit and heal him. Christ has declined king's invitation, but He did not refuse to help him.
According to tradition, the Mandilion was a square or rectangle of cloth upon which Jesus Christ allowed His image to be imprinted and which He then sent to Abgar, after which Abgar was healed. The Mandilion has since been kept in Edessa as a great shrine.
In the year 949 Edessa was besieged by the armies of Romanos I Lekapenos. In exchange for making peace, the citizens agreed to hand over the holy image.
Saint Mandilion arrived in Blachernae (suburb of Constantinople) on the afternoon of August 15, and the next day, on August 16, a great procession took place, which with proper honor carried the Mandilion to the Hagia Sophia church, in order to consecrate the city and its citizens. There the image remained for some time, after which it was transferred and remained permanently in the temple of the imperial palace up to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when the holy relic was sacked. Shortly thereafter, it was lost.
The Eastern Orthodox Church observes a feast for this icon on August 16, which commemorates its translation from Edessa to Constantinople.