Κυριακή, 2 Αυγούστου 2009

MIRACULOUS ICONS OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS
By Anthonios Markou

The Icon of the Akathist, Hilandar Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 12 January
This Icon is on the Iconostasis of the Hilandar Monastery's Katholikon, Mt. Athos. It is known as the "Akathist" Icon because, during a fire at the Katholikon, in 1837, an Akathist was being read before the Icon, and it remained unharmed, to the joy of the monks.

The "Milk - Giver" Icon, Hilandar Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 12 January
This Icon was originally located at the Lavra of St. Sabbas the Sanctified near Jerusalem. Before his death, the Holy Founder of the Lavra foretold that a royal pilgrim having the same name as himself would visit the Lavra. St. Sabbas told the brethren to give the wonderworking Icon to that pilgrim as a blessing.
In the 13th c., St. Sabbas of Serbia visited the Lavra. As he approached the reliquary of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, the Saint's staff fell at his feet. The brethren asked the visitor his name, and he told them he was Archbishop Sabbas of Serbia. Obeying the instructions of their founder, the monks gave St. Sabbas his staff, the "Milk-Giver" Icon, and the Icon "Of the Three Hands" (June 28 & July 12).
The Holy Archbishop took the Icon to Hilandar Monastery, on Mount Athos, and put it on the right side of the Iconostasis, in the Church of St. Sabbas, at the Kellion of Karyes, which is attached to Hilandar. The Icon was later named Typikonissa, since the Rule (Typikon) of St. Sabbas was preserved there.
The "Priestly" Icon, Hilandar Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 12 January
It stands in the Katholikon of Hilandar Monastery, Mt. Athos, by a column of the left kliros. A certain heretical Priest, having declared himself Orthodox, acted at the Hilandar Mona- stery with evil purpose, but he was punished. During the procession for the blessing of water he took this Icon but stumbled, fell into the sea and drowned. Since that time the cross procession is always done with this Icon, and invariably a Priest carries it, so it was called "Priestly" by the Serbs.

The Icon of the Consolation, Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 21 January
This Icon is in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, in the Church of the Annunciation. It was called "Vatopedi" because near this monastery Emperor Arkadius, the son of Empreor Theodosius the Great, fell off a ship into the sea, and by the miraculous intercession of the Mother of God he was carried to shore safe and unharmed. He was found sleeping by a bush, not far from the monastery. From this event the name "Vatopedi" ("batos paidion, the bush of the child") is derived. The Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (January 17), in gratitude for the miraculous deliverance of his son, embellished and generously endowed the Vatopedi Monastery.
On the Vatopedi Icon, the Mother of God is depicted with Her face turned towards Her right shoulder. This is because on January 21, 807, She turned Her face towards the Igumen of the Monastery, who was standing near the Holy Icon, about to hand the keys of the Monastery to the porter. A voice came from the Icon and warned him not to open the Monastery gates, because pirates intended to pillage the Monastery. Then the Holy Child placed His hand over His Mother's lips, saying, "Do not watch over this sinful flock, Mother, but let them fall under the sword of the pirates." The Holy Virgin took the hand of Her Son and said again, "Do not open the gates today, but go to the walls and drive off the pirates." The Igumen took precautionary measures, and the Monastery was saved.
In memory of this miraculous event a perpetual lamp burns in front of the wonderworking Icon. Every day a Canon of Supplication is chanted in honor of the Icon, and on Fridays the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. On Mt. Athos this Icon is called "Paramythia," "Consolation" ("Otrada"), or "Comfort" ("Uteshenie").

The "Stabbed" Icon, Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 21 January
In Greek "Esphagmeni”, in Slavonic "Zaklannaya". This Icon dates from the 14th c., and is in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, in a Chapel dedicated to St. Dimitrius of Thes-salonika. The Icon was painted on canvas, and received its name of "The Stabbed" from the following event:
A certain ecclesiarch, a Deacon of the Vatopedi Monastery, was occupied with overseeing the order of a long service. Delayed by his duties, he was late for the meal in the trapeza. The annoyed cook refused to give him any food, and reminded him that he should come on time if he wished to eat. Offended, the Deacon flew into a rage and he went to the Church again. Standing before the Icon of the Mother of God, he said, "How long must I go on serving You? I have toiled, but I have nothing to show for it. You don't even care whether or not I have anything to eat!"
Then he struck Her on the cheek with a knife and pierced right through the canvas. Blood flowed from the wound, and the deacon was struck blind. The terrified transgressor fell down right in front of the Icon, trembling all over, like Cain, the murderer of old.
The Igumen, served the all-night Vigil praying for mercy and the salvation of the hapless one. After three years the All-Holy Virgin appeared to the Igumen and said that she had forgiven the Deacon, and would restore his health, but his hand which committed the sacrilege would be condemned at the Lord's Second Coming.
The Deacon recovered his sight, and deeply repented of his transgression. Settling himself in a stall opposite the Icon he stabbed, he spent the rest of his life in repentance before it.
Three years after the Deacon's death, his bones were uncovered, according to the Athonite custom. His body had decomposed, but his right hand remained intact and was all black. This hand is preserved at the Monastery in memory of the unfathomable love of the Mother of God. It is in rather poor condition, however, because Russian pilgrims would take pieces of it, believing it to be a relic.

The "Hodigitria" Icon, Xenophon's Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 21 January
According to Tradition, this wonderworking Icon was for many years at the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos, in the Katholikon in front of a column on the left cliros.
In 1730, it mysteriously disappeared not only from the Church, but also from the Monastery. Since the doors were locked, the monks assumed that thieves had stolen it. Soon they heard that the Icon was at the Xenophon Monastery, a three hour journey from Vatopedi.
Several monks were sent to return their spiritual treasure to the Vatopedi Monastery. The Icon was restored to its former place, and the Fathers of the Monastery took precautions to prevent the Icon from being stolen again. However, the Icon of the Mother of God left the Vatopedi Monastery and appeared at Xenophon a second and third time. Persuaded that this was actually a miraculous occurrence, the brethren of the Monastery decided not to oppose the will of the Mother of God, and left the Icon at Xenophon. As a sign of their blessing, the brethren provided candles and oil for the Icon.
The "Hodigitria" Icon at Xenophon is in the Katholikon, before a column on the left cliros, the very same place it occupied at the Vatopedi Monastery.

The Sumorin -Totma Icon, Russia
Comm. 28 January
This Icon was glorified by numerous healings at the Spaso-Sumorin Monastery of the city of Totma. When the inhabitants of the city turned to Tsar Ivan the Terrible for permission to build a monastery in their city, the Rostov Archbishop Nikandros, in the year 1554, bestowed upon St. Theodosius the grant for building. The Igumen of the Priluki Monastery blessed St. Theodosius with an Icon of the Mother of God for success at building the new Monastery.
The Icon thereafter received the name Sumorin Totma (Sumorin is the family name of St. Theodosius, and Totma is a city). After the death of the Saint, the wonderworking Icon was put in a case in front of the crypt of the Saint at the Ascension Church of the Monastery.
St. Theodosius has appeared to many of the sick, holding this Icon in his hands.


The Elets - Chernigov (Chernigov Spruce Tree) Icon, Russia
Comm. 5 February
It appeared on a spruce-fir tree near Chernigov in the year 1060, during the time of Prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich, as was recorded in the Synodikon of Bishop Zosimas Prokopovich of Chernigov (1655-1657). The Icon was placed in a Church built in honor of the Elets-Spruce Icon of the Mother of God. St. Anthony (July 10), while living an ascetical life on the Boldino Heights (1068-1069), had given his blessing to found a Monastery at this place.
In 1238 the Monastery was pillaged by the Tatars, but the Icon was hidden inside the Monastery walls. In the year 1470, Prince Symeon Olelkovich of Kiev restored the Monastery, and they placed the Icon in the Church.
The ultimate fate of the Icon is unclear. According to one tradition, a descendant of the Chernigov Princes, Baryatinsky, carried the Icon to Moscow in the year 1579, when Chernigov fell into the hands of the Polish King Stephen Bathory. In 1687, Prince Daniel Baryatinsky was returning from a campaign in the Crimea. At Kharkov he fell seriously ill, and before his death he bequeathed the Elets Icon to the nearby Kharkov Dormition Church.
According to another tradition, the Icon vanished from the Monastery when it was sacked in the 17th c. by the forces of Sigismund III. In 1676, Prince Constantine Ostrozhsky presented the Elets Monastery a copy of the Elets Icon of the Mother of God, brought from Vladimir by the Kozel brothers. Archimandrite Ioannikios (Golyatovsky) was at this time restoring the Mona-stery and he described numerous miracles of this Icon in his book, "Skorbnitsa" (or "Sokro-vischnitsa", i.e. "Consoler" or "Treasury"), published in 1676 in Novgorod.
There is still another Elets Icon of the Mother of God, also appearing in the year 1060. It received its name because it appeared in the city of Elets, in a Cathedral Church dedicated to the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God. The feastday of this icon was set for January 11.

The Divnogorsk – Sicilian Icon, Russia
Comm. 5 February
This Icon received the first part of its title from where it was enshrined when it was glorified: the Dormition Monastery of Divnogorsk, in the former Ostrogozhsk district in Voronezh governance. Its title of "Sicilian" comes from its place of origin, since by tradition this Icon at Diva (i.e. "Wondrous Heights") was brought from Sicily by the pious monastic Elders Xenophon and Joasaph. They suggest that these Saints were Orthodox Greeks by birth, and that they had arrived there not earlier than the end of the 15th c. Xenophon and Joasaph founded a Monastery at a scenic spot above the River Don, near the confluence of the River Tikha Sosna [Quiet Pine River]. The place was called Wondrous Heights by those struck by the form of the chalk columns throughout the hills.
It is said that Xenophon and Joasaph lived in a cave (where later the Church of St. John the Forerunner was built), and that they carved out the first Church in a chalk column, into which also they put the Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God which they had brought with them. Here is where they found their eternal repose.
On the Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God, the Theotokos is depicted sitting in the clouds. In Her right hand is a white lily blossom, and with Her left arm She supports the Divine Infant, Who sits upright upon Her knees. The Savior holds a lily blossom in His left hand, and blesses with His right hand. Around the face of the Mother of God are eight Angels. The two beneath are shown on bended knee and with hands upraised in prayer. Over the head of the Theotokos is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
The special glorification of the Icon began in the year 1831, when cholera was raging. At Korotoyak, 7-8 versts from the Monastery, the Most Holy Virgin appeared (as She is depicted in the Divnogorsk Icon) to a certain elderly woman, Ekaterina Kolomenska, in a dream. She commanded that Her Icon be brought and a Molieben be served before it. The wonderworking Icon was brought to Korotoyak, and after a Molieben before the Holy Icon, the cholera ceased.
By the intercession of the Mother of God, the city of Ostrogozhsk also was saved from cholera. The people of Korotoyak and Ostrogozhsk were also saved from cholera in 1847 and 1848 through the miraculous intercession of the Mother of God, which occurred after a Church procession around these towns with the Holy Icon.
According to Tradition, the feastday of the wonderworking icon on February 5 was established already at its original habitation by Xenophon and Joasaph.

The "Seeker of the Perishing" Icon, Russia
Comm. 5 February
From time immemorial the Russian people, with faith in the all-powerful help of the Most Holy Theotokos, considered the title "Seeker of the Perishing" to refer not only to those who are dying, but to those whose souls are in danger of spiritual death.
There are no reliable accounts of the origin of the Icon, "Seeker of the Perishing." There are, however, several wonderworking Icons of this name, through which the Theotokos showed forth Her mercy to people on the very brink of death.
In the mid 19th c, in the village of Bor of Kaluga governance, the pious peasant Thedotos Obukhov lost his way in a blizzard on the Feast of the Lord's Baptism. The horse became exhausted and paused on the edge of an impassable ravine. Not seeing any way to save himself, Obukhov lay down in his sleigh, where he began to freeze.
In these terrible moments he prayed with all his being to the Queen of Heaven for help, and he vowed that if he was rescued he would have a "Seeker of the Perishing" Icon painted and donate it to the local Church. She heard his prayer and helped him in a marvelous way. A certain peasant in the nearby village heard a voice outside his window saying, "Take him." He went out and saw the half-frozen Obukhov on his sleigh. When he recovered his health, Obukhov immediately fulfilled his vow and commissioned a copy of the Icon from the St. George Church in the city of Bolkhov in the Orlov governance. From that time the Bor "Seeker of the Perishing" Icon was glorified by many manifestations of grace and miracles.
There are other "Seeker of the Perishing" Icons: one manifested itself in 1770 in the village of Malizhino in Kharkov governance, and delivered the people from cholera three times; there was another in the village of Krasnoe in Chernigov governance, and another from Voronezh and Kozlov in Tambov governance. In the year 1835, at the Moscow Alexandrov Orphanage Institute, a Church was consecrated in honor of the "Seeker of the Perishing" Icon.
Of particular interest is the "Seeker of the Perishing" Icon in the Church of the Glorious Resurrection in Moscow. This Icon had been transferred from the Church of the Nativity of Christ to the Palashevska alley. Its final owner had become widowed and was on the verge of complete poverty.
Fervent prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos saved him from despair and arranged matters for his daughters. This man felt that he was not worthy to have this wonderworking Icon in his house, so he gave it to the Church.
1In 1812 the Palashevsk Church was pillaged by the French. The desecrated Icon was found broken into three pieces among the rubble. With the finding of the Icon, numerous miracles of healing took place. Brides entering into marriage pray before this Icon that their marriage might be a happy one. People come to it, overwhelmed by drunkenness, perishing in poverty, suffering in illness, and they turn to the Icon in prayer as to a Mother with Her perishing children.

The “Gate Keeper” Icon, Iveron Monastery, Mt. Athos
Comm. 12 February, 13 October
This famous Icon was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea, Asia Minor. During the time of the Emperor Theophilos, the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the Image of the Mother of God with a spear. Blood flowed from the place where it was struck!
The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the Icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman and her son (later an Athonite monk), sent the Holy Icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The Icon, standing upright upon the water, floated to Athos.
For several days, the Athonite monks had seen a fiery pillar on the sea rising up to the heavens. They came down to the shore and found the Holy Image, standing upon the waters. After a Molieben of thanksgiving, a pious monk of the Iveron Monastery, St. Gabriel (July 12), had a dream in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him instructions. So he walked across the water, and taking up the Holy Icon, he placed it in the Church.
On the following day, however, the Icon was found not within the Church, but on the gates of the Monastery. This was repeated several times, until the Most Holy Theotokos revealed to St. Gabriel Her will, saying that She did not want the Icon to be guarded by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the Icon was installed on the Monastery gates. Therefore this icon came to be called in Greek "Portaitissa" ("Gate-Keeper").

The Kozelschansk Icon, Russia
Comm. 21 February
It was glorified in the late 19th c., though it is older than that. This Icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of Empress Elizabeth's (1741-1761) maids of honor, who was Italian. The owner of the Icon married a records clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, Siromakh. So, the Icon went to the Ukraine with them.
During the 19th c. it belonged to the family of Count Vladimir Kapnist, and was one of their sacred possessions. The Icon was in the village of Kozelschina, Poltava governance. During Cheesefare Week, in the year 1880, Maria, the daughter of V. I. Kapnist, dislocated some bones in her foot. The local doctor said the problem was not serious. Dr. Grube, a noted surgeon in Kharkov, agreed with the diagnosis, and he applied a plaster cast to Maria's foot. He also prescribed hot baths and iron supplements. To lessen the discomfort of the foot while walking, a special shoe was made with metal bands that went around the girl's leg. Lent passed, but the girl did not feel any relief.
After Pascha, Maria's other foot became twisted. Then both shoulders and her left hip became dislocated, and she developed pain in her spine. The doctor advised Count Kapnist to take his daughter immediately to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey to the Caucasus and the curative treatments caused even greater affliction. The girl lost all feeling in her hands and feet, and did not even feel pinches.
Because of the advanced degree of the illness, and since therapy was not helping, they were compelled to return home.
In the month of October, the father journeyed with his sick daughter to Moscow. Here he consulted specialists, who declared that they could do nothing for Maria.
The parents and the sick girl began to despair. However, an unexpected opportunity for help from a foreign professor presented itself. Since it would be some while before his arrival in Moscow, the sick girl asked to return home. The Count sent her back to the village, and his wife promised to bring their daughter back to Moscow when he received news of the professor's arrival. On February 21, 1881, they received a telegram saying that the professor had arrived in Moscow.
On the day before the appointment, Maria's mother suggested that she pray before the family Icon of the Mother of God. She said to her daughter, "Masha [a diminutive form of Maria], tomorrow we go to Moscow. Take the Icon, let us clean its cover and pray to the Most Holy Theotokos that your infirmity be cured."
The girl, who had no confidence in earthly physicians, placed all her hope in God. This Icon had long been known as wonderworking. According to Tradition, young women would pray before it to have a happy family. It was also the custom to clean the cover of the Icon, and the one praying would wipe it with cotton or linen.
Pressing the Holy Icon to her bosom, the sick girl, with the help of her mother, cleaned it and poured out all her sorrow and despair of soul to the Mother of God. All at once, she felt the strength return to her body and she cried out loudly, "Mama! Mama! I can feel my legs! I can feel my hands!" She tore off the metal braces and bandages and began to walk about the room, while continuing to hold the Icon of the Mother of God in her hands.
The parish Priest was summoned at once and celebrated a service of Thanksgiving before the Icon. The joyous event quickly became known throughout all the surrounding villages. The Countess and Maria went to Moscow and took with them the Holy Icon of the Mother of God. News of the healing quickly spread about Moscow and people began to throng to the hotel, and then to the Church, where they had brought the Icon.
The Icon continued to work several more healings. When the family returned home to Kozelschina, people had already heard about the miracles of the Kozelschansk Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow, and many came to venerate the Icon. It was no longer possible to keep the Icon at home, so by the order of Archbishop John of Poltava, the Icon was transferred to a temporary Chapel on April 23, 1881. Every day from early morning, services of Thanksgiving and Akathists were served before the Icon.
In 1882 a Chapel was built on the grounds of the estate, and then a Church. decision of the Holy Synod on March 1, 1885 a women's Monastery was established, and on February 17, 1891 it was dedicated to the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
At present, the Kozelschansk Icon is in the Krasnogorsk Protection women's Monastery (Kiev Diocese). In the lower left corner of the Icon is a table with a cup and a spoon. It is believed that this symbolizes the Mother of God as a "bowl for mixing the wine of joy" (Akathist, Ikos 11). A Service and an Akathist have been composed for the Kozelschansk Icon.

The Mezhetsk Icon, Russia
Comm. 26 February
The only known for this Holy Icon is that it appeared at Kiev, in the year 1492.

The Kolomna Icon, Russia
Comm. 2 March
This Icon appeared on March 2, 1917, the day of Tsar Nicholas's abdication, in the village of Kolomskoye near Moscow.
In February 1917, an elderly woman named Eudokia, saw the Mother of God in a dream telling her to go to Kolomskoye to find a large blackened Icon in a Church. After the vision was repeated three times, she went to Kolomskoye to search for the Icon with the Priest Nicholas.
In the basement of the Church they found the Icon and started to wipe off the accumula-ted dust. Then they could see the Most Holy Theotokos wearing a crown and sitting on a throne. Immediately, Father Nicholas served a Molieben of Thanksgiving and an Akathist.
News of the Icon's discovery spread throughout Russia, and there were several miracles of healing from physical and mental infirmities. As time went by, the Icon renewed itself and became brighter and brighter. Particularly striking was the blood-red robe of the Virgin.
Since the Icon was revealed just as the Tsar abdicated, many people believed that the Queen of Heaven had assumed royal authority over the Russian land, and so the Icon became known as the Enthroned Icon. It was discovered that the Icon had come from the Ascension Convent in Moscow. In 1812, before Napoleon's invasion, this Icon and others were sent to Kolomskoye's Ascension Church for safekeeping. Apparently forgotten, the Icons were never returned to Moscow.
A Service and Akathist to the Enthroned Icon were composed with the assistance of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon (+ 1925). Many copies of the Icon were venerated throughout Russia, but these were confiscated by the Soviets. The Service and Akathist to the Icon were also forbidden to be served.
The original Icon is said to be in the Novodevichy Museum in Moscow, and there is a copy in the Church of the Kazan Mother of God in Kolomskoye.

The Volokolamsk Icon, Russia
Comm. 3 March
It is a copy of the miraculous Vladimir Icon of the Moscow Dormition Cathedral. The Icon was brought from Zvenigorod to the Dormition Monastery of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk on March 2, 1572, during the second week of Great Lent and was solemnly met by Igumen Leonid (1563-1566; 1568-1573) and all the monastic brethren.
It is distinguished by its particular depiction on the margins of St. Cyprian (right) and St. Gerontios (left), Metropolitans of Moscow.
The name of Metropolitan Cyprian is associated with the first arrival of the ancient Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to Moscow, in the year 1395, and under Metropolitan Gerontios in 1480 the Vladimir Icon came finally to Moscow.
In the year 1588 the Volokolamsk Icon was dedicated atop the gate in the Church at the south gates of the St. Joseph of Volokolamsk Monastery, in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
At the end of the 17th c., when a Church of the same name was built in Moscow at Staraya Basmanna, the Church atop the gate of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk was rededicated in honor of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The Volokolamsk Icon was transferred to its proper place on the iconostasis of the new Cathedral Dormition Church of the Monastery of St. Joseph of Volokoamsk.
In 1578, the Icon was recognized as wonderworking.

The Czestochowa Icon, Poland
Comm. 6 March
By tradition, this Icon is regarded as one of the seventy Icons painted by the Holy Evangelist Luka. It was painted at Jerusalem, in the Mount Zion section (in the upper room where the Mystical Supper was celebrated).
In 66-67, during the assault on Jerusalem by Roman forces under the leadership of Vespasian and Titus, the Christians fled Jerusalem, and went to Pella, a small area between two mountains. Among other holy things that they hid in a cave, they also preserved this Icon of the Mother of God. In the year 326, when the Empress St. Helen went around Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places and found the Cross of the Lord, she received this Icon as a gift from the Christians. She brought it to Constantinople and placed in a court Chapel, where it remained for five centuries.
The wonderworking image was brought to Russia with great reverence by the founder of the city of L'vov (Limberg 1268-1270), Prince Lev Danilovich of Galicia-Volhyna, and it was placed in the Belz Castle, under the supervision of Orthodox clergy.
Later on, during the conquest of Western Ukraine by the Poles, the wonderworking Icon came into the possession of the Polish Governor Prince Vladislav Opolsky. The Tatars descended upon Russia and lay siege to the Belz Castle. Trusting in the help of the Mother of God, Prince Vladislav brought the venerable Icon from Church and placed it upon the city wall. Pierced by an enemy arrow, the wonderworking Image has preserved traces of blood that flowed from the wound.
A lethal darkness then fell upon the Tatar forces, who began to die in great numbers. This miracle compelled them to lift their siege of the castle and withdraw to their own territories in terror. The Heavenly Queen commanded the Prince in a dream to transfer the wonderworking Icon to Yasna Gora, in Chenstokova .
The Monastery on Yasna Gora (the Mount of Witnessing, as it was called because of the many miracles happening there), was founded in 1352. Prince Vladislav took the sacred Image there and entrusted it to the care of monks of the Pauline Order. Some years later, followers of the heretic John Hus plundered the Monastery. Having looted it of all its valuables, they also wanted to seize the wonderworking image, but an invisible force held back the horses, and the cart with the Icon would not budge from the spot. In a rage, one of the robbers threw the holy Icon upon the ground, and another drove his sword into its face. Then a just punishment befell the blasphemers: the first dropped dead on the spot, the hand of the second withered, and the others either fell down dead or were struck blind.
In the mid 17th c. the Swedish King Carl X Gustav, having captured Warsaw and Kra-kow, suffered a blow beneath the Chenstokova Monastery at Yasna Gora. The help and interces-sion of the Heavenly Queen gave courage to the Poles, and King Jan Cazimir, returning to L'vov, issued a decree entrusting his realm to the protection of the Mother of God, calling Her Chensto-kova Image the "Polish Queen." The war with the Swedes ended successfully for the Poles in the year 1656.
The Chestokhova Wonderworking Icon is kept in the Church of a Roman Catholic Monastery in Chenstokova, and a special book records the Icon's miracles. Many copies of this Icon were made, both for Roman Catholic and also for Orthodox.
In the year 1813, when Russian forces entered the Chestokhova fortress, the head and brethren of the monastery presented General Saken a copy of the wonderworking Icon. Afterwards, the copy was transferred to St. Peterburg and placed in the Kazan Cathedral, where a vigil lamp burns before it day and night.

The Shestokhov ("Hearth") or Sheltomezha Icon, Russia
Comm. 6 March
It manifested itself in the mid-18th c. at Moscow, in the family of a certain Nicholas Dimitrievich Skripitsyn. Once, a servant girl, whom they called blessed, saw in a dream that an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was hidden in the chimney of the stove.
The household paid no attention to her amazing dream, until a linen bundle fell down on the stove the next day. In it was a fairly large Image of the Mother of God (approximately 2 x 1.5 meters). Burn marks were seen to the right of the Mother of God, demonstrating that although it had been in a fire, the Holy Icon miraculously had not burnt. The precious Icon, receiving the name "Shestokhov” ("Hearth", from the word "Shestok" meaning "Hearth"), was elegantly adorned by the household and venerated with the deepest reverence. Before his death, the owner of the house gave it to his children as a blessing.
Unable to decide to whom this Holy Icon should belong, the heirs gave it to a Church in the Sheltomezha village of the Tver gubernia, from which it received its second name: Sheltomezha.
Glorified by many miracles, the ancient Icon was carried in procession through the districts of the Tver diocese, for healing the sick and conquering evil spirits.
In the year 1887, in the village of Sheltomezha, the Shestokhov Ascension women's Monastery was founded, in honor of the wonderworking Icon.

The "Graced of Heaven" Icon, Russia
Comm. 6 March
It is on the Iconostasis of the Moscow Archangel Cathedral, in the Kremlin. Previously, this Icon was at Smolensk and brought to Moscow by Sophia, daughter of the Lithuanian Prince Vitovt, when she became the wife of Prince Basil of Moscow (1389-1425).
On the Icon, the Mother of God is depicted in full stature. On Her left arm is the Divine Infant. Certain people call also this Icon of the Mother of God "What shall we call Thee".
This Icon is also commemorated on the Sunday of All Saints.

The "Surety of Sinners" Icon, Russia
Comm. 7 March, 29 May
It is known by this name because of the inscription on the Icon: "I am the Surety of sinners for My Son Who has entrusted Me to hear them, and those who bring Me the joy of hearing them will receive eternal joy through Me." The Mother of God embraces Her Child, Who holds Her right hand with both His hands so that Her thumb is in His right hand, and Her small finger in His left hand. This is the gesture of one who gives surety for another.
Although we do not know when or by whom the Icon was originally painted, it is belie-ved that the basis of the Icon is to be found in the Akathist to the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: "Rejoice, You Who offer Your hands in surety for us to God."
This Icon was first glorified by miracles at the St. Nicholas Odrino men's Monastery of the former Orlov gubernia in the mid 19th c.
The "Surety of Sinners" Icon of the Mother of God was in an old Chapel beyond the Monastery gates, and stood between two other ancient icons. Because it was so faded and covered with dust, it was impossible to read the inscription.
In 1843 it was revealed to many of the people in dreams that the Icon was endowed with miraculous power. They solemnly brought the Icon into the Church. Believers began to flock to it to pray for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first to receive healing was a crippled child, whose mother prayed fervently before the Icon in 1844. The Icon was glorified during a cholera epidemic, when many people fell deathly ill, and were restored to health after praying before it.
A large stone Church with three altars was built at the Monastery in honor of the wonderworking icon.
In 1848, through the zeal of Lt. Col. Dimitrios Boncheskul, a copy of the wonderworking Image was made and placed in his home. Soon it began to exude a healing myrrh, which was given to many so they might recover their health after grievous illnesses. Boncheskul donated this wonderworking copy to the Church of St. Nicholas at Khamovniki in Moscow, where a Chapel was built in honor of it.

"The Word made Flesh" Albazin Icon, Russia
Comm. 9 March
It is of great religious significance in the Amur River region. It received its name from the Russian fortress of Albazin (now the village of Albazino) along the Amur river, founded in the year 1650 by the famous Russian frontier Ataman Hierotheus Khabarov, on the site of a settlement of the Daurian Prince Albaza.
The hue and cry over the Amur Albazinsk fortress became an object of enmity for the Chinese Emperor and his Generals, who then already dreamed of expanding their influence over all of Russian Siberia.
On the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, on March 24, 1652, the first military clash of the Russians with the Chinese occurred at the Amur. Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos the pagans were scattered and fled to their own territory. This victory seemed like a portent for the Russians. But the struggle had only just begun. Many sons of Holy Russia died in the struggle for the Amur, and for the triumph of Orthodoxy in the Far East.
In June of 1658 an Albazin military detachment, 270 Cossacks under the leadership of Onouphrios Stepanov, fell into an ambush and in a heroic fight they were completely annihilated by the Chinese.
The enemy burned Albazin, overran Russian lands, and carried off the local population into China. They wanted to turn the fertile cultivated area back into wilderness.
During these difficult years the Most Holy Theotokos showed signs of Her mercy to the land of Amur. In 1665, when Russians returned and rebuilt Albazin, together with a Priest there came to the Amur the Elder Germogenes from the Kirensk Holy Trinity Monastery. He carried with him a wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God "The Word made Flesh", called the Albazinsk Icon since that time. In 1671 the holy Elder built a small Monastery on the boundary mark of the Brusyan Stone (one and a half kilometers from Albazin near the Amur), where the Holy Icon was later kept.
Albazin was built up. At two Churches in the city, the Ascension of the Lord and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Albazin Priests offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Not far from the city (along the Amur) another Monastery was built, the Spassky. The fertile soil produced bread for Eastern Siberia. The local populace adapted itself to Russian Orthodox culture, peacefully entering into the multi-national Russian state, and found Russian protection from the plundering raids of Chinese feudal war-lords.
At Moscow they did not forget the needs of the far-away Amur frontier. They strengthened military defenses and improved regional government. In 1682 the Albazin Military-Provincial Government was formed. They concerned themselves about the spiritual nourishment of the Amur region peoples. A local Council of the Russian Church in 1681 adopted a resolution to send "Archimandrites, Igumens, or Priests, both learned and good, to enlighten unbelievers with the law of Christ." The Daurian and Tungusian peoples as a whole accepted Holy Baptism. Of great significance was the conversion of the Daurian Prince Hantimur (renamed Peter) and his eldest son Katana (renamed Paul) to Orthodoxy.
The servants of the Chinese Emperor planned for a new attack. After several unsuccessful forays, on July 10, 1685, they marched against Albazin with an army of 15,000 and encircled the fortress. In it were 450 Russian soldiers and three cannon. The first assault was repulsed. The Chinese then from all sides piled up firewood and kindling against the wooden walls of the fortress and set it on fire. Further resistance proved impossible. With its military standards and holy things, among which was the wonderworking Albazin Icon, the soldiers abandoned the fortress.
The Mother of God did not withhold Her intercession from Her chosen city. Scouts soon reported that the Chinese suddenly began to withdraw from Albazin, ignoring the Chinese Emperor's command to destroy the crops in the Russian fields. The miraculous intervention of the Heavenly Protectress not only drove the enemy from Russian territories, but also preserved the grain which sustained the city for the winter months. On August 20, 1685 Russians were in Albazin again.
A year went by, and the fortress was again besieged by Chinese. There began a five-month defense of Albazin, which occupies a most honored place in Russian military history. Three times, in July, in September, and in October, the forces of the Chinese Emperor made an assault on the wooden fortifications. A hail of fiery arrows and red-hot cannon balls fell on the town. Neither the city nor its defenders could be seen in the smoke and fire. And all three times, the Mother of God defended the inhabitants of Albazin from their fierce enemy.
Until December 1686, when the Chinese lifted the siege of Albazin, of the city's 826 defenders only 150 men remained alive.
These forces were inadequate to continue the war against the Chinese emperor. In August 1690 the last of the Cossacks departed from Albazin under the leadership of Basil Smirenikov. Neither the fortress, nor its holy things, fell into the hands of the enemy. The fortifications were razed and leveled by the Cossacks, and the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God was taken to Sretensk, a city on the river Shilka, which flows into the Amur.
But even after the destruction of Albazin, God destined its inhabitants to do another service for the good of the Church. By divine Providence the end of the military campaign contributed to the increase of the influence of the grace of Orthodoxy among the peoples of the Far East. During the years of war, a company of about a hundred Russian cossacks and peasants from Albazin and its environs were taken captive and sent to Peking.
The Chinese Emperor even gave orders to give one of the Buddhist temples in the Chinese capital for an Orthodox Church dedicated to the Wisdom of God. In 1695 Metropolitan Ignatius of Tobolsk sent an antimension, chrism, service books, and church vessels to the Sophia Church. In a letter to the captive Priest Maximos, "the Preacher of the Holy Gospel to the Chinese Empire," Metropolitan Ignatius wrote: "Be not troubled, nor troubled in soul for yourself and the captives with you, for who is able to oppose the will of God? Your captivity is not without purpose for the Chinese people, so that you may reveal to them the light of Christ's Orthodox Faith."
The preaching of the Gospel in the Chinese Empire soon bore fruit and resulted in the first baptisms of Chinese. The Russian Church zealously looked after the new flock. In 1715 the Metropolitan of Tobolsk, St. Philotheos "the Apostle to Siberia" (+ May 31, 1727), wrote a letter to the Peking clergy and the faithful living under the Peking Spiritual Mission, who continued with the Christian work of enlightening pagans.
The years went by, and the new epoch brought the Russian deliverance of the Amur. On August 1, 1850, the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-Giving Cross, Captain G. I. Nevelsky raised up the Russian Andreev flag at the mouth of the Amur River and founded the city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. Through the efforts of the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, N. N. Muraviev-Amursky (+ 1881), and St. Innocent, Archbishop of Kamchatka (March 31), and through the spiritual nourishment which obtained in the Amur and coastal regions, in several years the left bank of the Amur was built up with Russian cities, villages and Cossack settlements.
Each year brought important advances in the development of the liberated territory, its Christian enlightenment and welfare. In the year 1857 on the bank of the Amur fifteen way-stations and settlements were established (the Albazin on the site of the old fortress and the Innokentiev, named in honor of St. Innocent). In a single year, 1858, there were more than thirty settlements, among which were three cities: Khabarovsk, Blagoveschensk and Sophiisk.
On May 9, 1858, on the Feast of St. Nicholas, N. N. Muraviev-Amursky and Archbishop Innocent of Kamchatka arrived in the Cossack post at Ust'-Zeisk. St. Innocent was there to dedicate a temple in honor of the Annunciation of the Mother of God (Blagoveschenie, in Slavonic), the first building in the new city. Because of the name of the temple, the city was also called Blagoveschensk, in memory of the first victory over the Chinese on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1652, and in memory of the Annunciation Church at Irkutsk, in which St. Innocent began his own priestly service. It was also a sign that "from that place proceeded the blessed news of the reintegration of the Amur region territory under Russian sovereignty." New settlers on the way to the Amur, journeying through Sretensk, fervently offered up their prayers to the Holy Protectress of the Amur region before her Wonderworking Albazin Icon. Their prayers were heard: the Aigunsk (1858) and Peking (1860) treaties decisively secured the left bank of the Amur and coastal regions for Russia.
In 1868 the Bishop of Kamchatka, Benjamin Blagonravov, the successor to St. Innocent, transferred the Holy Icon from Sretensk to Blagoveschensk, thereby returning the famous Holy Icon to the Amur territory. In 1885, a new period began in the veneration of the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God and is associated with the name of the Kamchatka Bishop Gurias, who established an annual commemoration on March 9 and a weekly Akathist.
In the summer of 1900, during the "Boxer Rebellion" in China, the waves of insurrection reached all the way to the Russian border. Chinese troops suddenly appeared on the banks of the Amur before Blagoveschensk. For nineteen days the enemy stood before the undefended city, raining artillery fire down upon it, and menacing the Russian bank with invasion.
The shallows of the Amur afforded passage to the adversary. In the Annunciation Church services were celebrated continuously, and Akathists were read before the Wonderworking Albazin Icon. The Protection of the Mother of God was again extended over the city, just as it had been in earlier times. Not daring to cross the Amur, the enemy departed from Blagovesc-hensk. According to the accounts of the Chinese themselves, they often saw a Radiant Woman over the bank of the Amur, inspiring them with fear and rendering their missiles ineffective.
For more than 300 years the Wonderworking Albazin Icon of the Mother of God watched over the Amur frontier of Russia. Orthodox people venerate it not only as Protectress of Russian soldiers, but also as a Patroness of mothers. Believers pray for mothers before the Icon during their pregnancy and during childbirth, "so that the Mother of God might bestow the gift of abundant health from the Albazin Icon's inexhaustible well-spring of holiness."

The Lydda, Not-Made-by-Hands, Icon, Holy Land
Comm. 12 March
According to the Tradition, hen the Holy Apostles Peter and John the Theologian prea-ched about the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Lydda (afterwards Diospolis), near Jerusalem, a Church dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos was built there for the newly-converted.
Traveling to Jerusalem, the Apostles asked the Mother of God to come to the consecration of the Church, and to bless it by Her presence. The All-Pure Virgin replied, "Go in peace, I shall be there with you." Entering the Church, they beheld the beautiful and wondrous Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, Not-Made-by-Hands. This Icon was made in color, not by the hand of an artist, but by a divine force. Some sources say the Icon was on the wall, others say it was on a column. Then the Mother of God appeared and bestowed Her special grace and power upon the Icon.
During the reign of the Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), a new miracle occurred at Lydda. Stone-masons were sent to the Church to destroy the wonderworking icon. However, as they attempted to chip away at the Image, it would not disappear, but the paint and lines penetrated deeper into the stone. News of the miracle spread throughout all the world. A copy of the Icon was made in the 8th c. at the request of St. Germanus, the future Patriarch of Constanti-nople. He sent it to Rome and it also received miraculous power. The reproduction was returned to Constantinople after the defeat of Iconoclasm.
There existed also another Lydda Icon of the Mother of God, Not-Made-by-Hands. It was in a Church built at Lydda by Aeneas, who had been healed by the Apostle Peter (Acts 9:32-35). When the pagans and the Jews wanted to take this Church away from the Christians, the governor ordered that the Church be locked up for three days, until some sign should appear for resolving the dispute. And when they opened the Church three days later, they saw within it the Icon of the Mother of God, Not-Made-by-Hands.
Three of the Eastern Patriarchs (Jerusalem, Antrioch and Alexandria), wrote about both of the Lydda Icons, Not-Made-by-Hands, in a letter to the Iconoclast Emperor Theophilus (829-842). The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitos (912-959) spoke about the letter in a historical account about the Icon of the Savior, Not-Made-by-Hands, at Edessa.
The Lydda Icon is also mentioned in the Third Ode of the Canon in the service to the Kazan Icon.

The Theodore - Kostroma Icon, Russia
Comm. 14 March
This Icon was painted by the Evangelist Luke and resembles the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
This Icon received its name from Great Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich (+ 1246), the father of St. Alexander Nevsky, and who in Holy Baptism received the name Theodore, in honor of St. Theodore Stratelates.
According to Tradition, the Icon was found by his elder brother, St. George (February 4), in an old wooden Chapel near the city of Gorodets. Later, the Gorodetsk Theodorov Monastery was built on this spot. Prince Yaroslav-Theodore became the Great Prince of Vladimir after his brother St. George perished in battle with the Mongols, at the Sita River. In the year 1239, he solemnly transferred the Relics of his brother from Rostov to the Vladimir Dormition Cathedral. He gave the Icon which he inherited from his brother to his own son, St. Alexander Nevsky.
Yaroslav-Theodore is renowned in Russian history. He continued with the glorious traditions of his uncle St. Andrew Bogoliubsky (July 4), and of his father Vsevolod III Big-Nest, and he was connected to almost all of the significant events in the history of Rus in the first half of the 13th c.
Russia was burned and torn apart by the Mongols in 1237-1238. He raised it up from the ashes, rebuilt and embellished the cities, the holy Monasteries and the Churches. He restored cities along the Volga devastated by the enemy: Kashin, Uglich, Yaroslavl', Kostroma, Gorodets.
He founded he Church of Theodore Stratelates at Kostroma and the Theodorov Monastery near Gorodets, in honor of his patron Saint. For eight years he ruled as Great Prince, but he had to guide the land through a singularly difficult path, maintaining a military-political balance with the Golden Horde to the East, while mounting an active opposition to Catholic Europe in the West. His closest companion was his son, St. Alexander Nevsky, who also continued his policies.
The wonderworking Theodore Icon of the Mother of God was constantly with St. Alexander, and he prayed before it. After St. Alexander Nevsky died on November 14, 1263 at the monastery founded by his father, the Icon was taken by his younger brother Basil.
Basil Yaroslavich was the youngest (eighth) son of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich. In 1246 after the death of his father (Prince Yaroslav was poisoned in the capital city of Mongolia, Karakorum when he was only five years old), Basil became Prince of the Kostroma appanage-holding, the least important of his father's domains. In the year 1272, he became Great Prince of Vladimir.
His four years as Great Prince (1272-1276) were filled with fratricidal princely quarrels. For several years he waged war against Novgorod with an unruly nephew Dimitrios. In becoming Great Prince, however, Basil did not journey to Vladimir, but remained under the protection of the wonderworking Icon at Kostroma, regarding this place as safer in case of new outbreaks of strife.
He had occasion also to defend Rus against external enemies. In 1272, during a Tatar incursion, a Russian army came forth from Kostroma to engage them. Following the example of his grandfather, St. Andrew Bogoliubsky (who took the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God with him on military campaigns), Prince Basil went into battle with the wonder-working Theodore Icon. A blinding light came forth from the holy image, and the Tatars dispersed and fled from the Russian land.
The Chronicles say that the Great Prince Basil had a special love for the Church and the clergy. After the martyric death of Bishop Metrophanes of Vladimir during the storming of Vladimir by Tatars (on February 4, 1238), the Vladimir Diocese had remained widowed for many years. This grieved Great Prince Basil. With his help, a large Cathedral was constructed in Vladimir in 1274. This was apparently in connection with the consecration of St. Serapion (July 12) as Bishop of Vladimir. He was an Igumen from the Monastery of the Caves.
Metropolitan Cyril III (+ 1282) presided over a Council of Russian Hierarchs. This was the first Council in the Russian Church since the time of the Mongol invasion. Many problems and disorders had arisen in Church life, but the Russian Church was just barely beginning to recover from the woe that had befallen it. One of its main tasks was to recover a Russian churchly literacy, and the restoration of the tradition of the ancient Russian "princely order."
Without books the Church's salvific activity would be almost impossible. Books were needed for church services, and for preaching, for the monastic cell rule, and for believers to read at home. Through the efforts of Metropolitan Cyril and the Russian Bishops and monastic scholars, this important task was begun. The Council approved new editions of essential books which formed the canonical basis of Orthodox Church life.
In 1276, Prince Basil completed his life's journey. Most of the important events in his life occured with the blessing of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God. He died at Kostroma, and there he also found his final resting place. Since that time, the Holy Icon has been in the Kostro-ma Cathedral of St. Theodore Stratelates.
Renewed interest in the Theodorov Icon of the Mother of God and the spread of its veneration throughout all Russia is connected with events of the beginning of the 17th c., and the end of the Time of Troubles. In the year 1613, the wonderworking Theodore Icon from the Kostroma Cathedral was used at the proclamation of Michael Romanov as the new Tsar. In memory of this historic event, March 14 was designated for the commemoration of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God.
Numerous copies were made from the Kostroma Theodore Icon, and one of the first was commissioned and brought to Moscow by Tsar Michael's mother, the nun Martha. From the second half of the 17th c., various copies of the Theodore Icon were enlarged with scenes depicting events from the history of the wonderworking Icon.
In the year 1670 the Hierodeacon Longinus from the Kostroma Hypatiev Monastery wrote the "Narrative concerning the Manifestations and Miracles of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God in Kostroma." Not all the things contained in it agree with things previously stated.
The Theodore Icon is two-sided. On the reverse side is the image of the Holy Great Martyr Paraskeva, depicted in the splendid attire of a Princess. It is believed that the Image of Paraskeva on the reverse of the Icon is connected with the wife of St. Alexander Nevsky.

The Smolensk "Tenderness" Icon, Russia
Comm. 19 March
This Holy Icon manifest itself in the year 1103, at Smolensk. Another Smolensk "Umilenie" ("Tenderness") Icon is known of from the vicinity of Okopa (down from Smolensk). This Icon was situated in the encampment of the Russian armies of the military-commander (voevoda) Shein, holding back Polish besiegers from destroying Smolensk over the course of 20 months (1611-1613).

"The Clouded Mount" Icon, Russia
Comm. 24 March
About 250-300 years ago this Icon was situated in one of the men's monasteries of Tver' and was presented by the superiour to Kosma Volchaninov in gratitude for the fine completion of work in the Monastery Church.
This Icon as a holy thing was passed on from generation to generation, but a certain impious grandson of Kosma removed it hanging the Icon in an attic. His bride endured many insults from her husband and his relatives. In despair over her marriage she resolved to end it by suicide in a deserted bath-house. On the way there a monk appeared to her and said: "Whither goest thou, unhappy one? Return back; go, pray to the Mother of God of The Clouded Mountain -- and thou wilt live fine and in peace."
The agitated young wife, having returned home, told everything, not concealing even her interrupted intention. They started to search for the monk, but they did not find him, and no one besides her had seen him. This took place on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Mother of God. They immediately found the Icon in the attic, cleaned off the dirt and set it up in the house in a place of veneration. In the evening the parish Priest was invited, who made before the Icon the all-night vigil, which from that time was done annually in the house on this day.
For more than 150 years the Icon was situated in the Volchaninov family. Ekatherina, daughter of Vasilii, the last of the Volchaninov line, entered into marriage with Georgii Ivanovich Konyaev, taking with her the Icon as a very dear inheritance. And in the Konyaev house moliebens and all-night vigils were done on 24 March and 7 November (probably, this was the day of the transfer of the Icon from the Monastery to the house of Kosma Volchaninov).
In 1863 near a Cemetery Church of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God it was decided to build a Chapel in honour of St. Tikhon and St. Makarius of Kalyazinsk. The then owner of the Icon, Georgii Konyaev (+ 1868, at age 97) wanted to bestow the health-bearing Image of the Mother of God to the Church. He turned to the clergy with a request to build still another Chapel for the wonderworking Image of the Mother of God of the "Beclouded Mount." Along with this he said: "I feel the very best place for it is the temple of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, since the place on which the Church was built, in olden times was called a Mount, as being the very highest place in the city. On this Mount in former times the inhabitants in time of flood took up their possessions and here saved themselves from ruin. Let the Queen of Heaven -- The Clouded Mountain -- rest with your blessing upon this mountain and let all here buried be veiled with Her mercy."
On 15 July 1866 the Icon was transferred into the constructed Chapel, which on the following day was consecrated by the Staritsk Bishop Antony.
On the Icon the Most Holy Mother of God is depicted standing on an half-circle elevation, a mountain; upon Her left arm, the Divine-Infant with blessing right hand. Upon the head of the Mother of God is a crown, and in Her hand a not-large mountain, on which are seen above Churches with cupolas and crosses.

The "Assuage my Sorrows" Icon, Russia
Comm. 25 September, 9 October
This Icon was glorified at Moscow by many miracles in the second half of the 18th c., particularly during a plague, in 1771. The Icon had been brought to Moscow by Cossacks in 1640 in the reign of Tsar Michael (1613-1645), and placed in the Church of St. Nicholas in the Pupishevo district of Moscow.
Once, perhaps after a fire and the rebuilding of the Church, the Icon was carelessly put in a bell tower. However, the abundant mercies manifested by the Mother of God would one day bring about a renewed veneration of this Holy Icon.
The Feast of the wonderworking Icon on January 25 was established in 1760 to commemorate the healing of a sick woman who had seen the Icon in a vision. A voice instructed her to go to the Church of St. Nicholas, in the Pupishevo district of Moscow where she would find this Icon. "Pray before it, and you will receive healing."
She obeyed and went to Moscow, where she found an Icon, darkened by age and dust, in the Church's bell tower. When the sick woman saw the face and inscription she cried out, "It is She!" The woman, who previously had been unable to move her arms and legs, walked out of Church on her own after a Molieben was served before the Icon on January 25.
The Icon was placed in an honored place in the Church, and later a Chapel was built in its honor. The services and the Akathist in honor of the Icon date from this period. Copies of the "Assuage my Sorrows" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos are to be found in Churches of Moscow and other cities.

The Kazan Icon, Russia
Comm. 8 July and 22 October
The Kazan Icon of the Mother of God appeared in 1579 in the city of Kazan. This was 27 years after Tsar John IV Vasilievich Grozny (Ivan the Terrible), conquered the Kazan Tartar Khanate. The Most Holy Theotokos revealed her Wonder-working Icon in order to more firmly establish the Christian Faith among the new converts, and to favorably dispose those who had not yet been converted to Christ.
The Holy Theotokos frequently appeared in a dream to a pious young girl, Matrona, directing her to request the Archbishop of Kazan, St. Gurias, to remove Her Icon from the earth. The exact location of the buried Icon was also revealed in the dreams. On 8 July the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was miraculously uncovered by Matrona, and the Archbishop carried it in procession to the nearest Church, of St. Nicholas, in which the next Patriarch of Moscow St. Hermogenes was served as Priest. From this church, the Icon was removed and place in the Cathedral of the Annunciation. The Holy Mother of God showed her miraculous powers by healing many who were ill.
The Appearance of the Kazan Icon is celebrated on 8 July. A second day in honor is on 22 October, in memory of saving Moscow and All Russia from the invasion of the Roman Catholics Poles, in 1612. The late 16th and early 17th centuries are known in Russian history as the “Time of Troubles”. The Russian Orthodox Nation was attacked by Polish armies, who mocked the Orthodox Faith, and who looted and burned churches, towns and villages. By means of deceit, they succeeded in seizing Moscow. In response to the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Hermogenes (comm. on May 12), the Russian people rose up in defense of the homeland. The miraculous Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was sent from Kazan to join the forces led by Prince Dimitry Mikhailovitch Pozharsky.
In his "Homily on the day of the Appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God in Kazan" St. Dimitry of Rostov (comm. September 21) writes: “The Mother of God saves from great misfortunes and evils not only the righteous, but also the sinful, but what manner of sinners? Those, who like the Prodigal Son, return to their Heavenly Father; who lament [over their sins]; who, like the Publican, beat their breasts; who are like the sinful woman that wept at the feet of Christ and washed His feet with her tears; those who, like the thief on the Cross, confess Him. The Mother of God looks after such sinners and rushes to help them, and saves them from great misfortunes and evils”.
Recognizing that the misfortune had been permitted because of their sins, the entire people and army observed 3-day fast, and turned to the Lord and His Most-Pure Mother for divine help. Their prayers were heeded. Holy Hierarch Arseny (later to become Bishop of Suzdal), who was a prisoner of the Poles, sent word that he had had a vision revealing by the intercession of the Most-Holy Virgin, God’s judgment been had turned to mercy. Inspired by this news, the armies on October 22, 1612 liberated Moscow from the Polish occupiers.
The celebration in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos was established in 1649.
A special Church dedicated to the Ikon was built in Kazan in 1679, but the Ikon had been kept in Moscow since the victory over the Poles and a copy was installed in the new Cathedral of Kazan. In 1821 the original Icon of Our Lady of Kazan moved again, this time to St. Petersburg where it was installed in the new Kazan Cathedral on Nevskii prospect. This church was built in 1801-1811 to Andrei Voronikhin’s design. In 1811-1858, the Kazan Cathedral was the main Cathedral of the capital city. After 1932, when the Cathedral was closed by the atheists, the building housed the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. In 1991, services have been resumed.
By the time of its removal to St. Petersburg, the Ikon had become extremely popular and there were nine separate miracle working copies of it around the country.
By the middle of the 19th c. the original Ikon was encrusted in diamonds, massive emeralds and a gold cover. The original Icon was “lost” in 1905. In 1918 St. Petersburg’ copy was seized by the Soviet Government and transported to Moscow.
The popular Icon of Kazan has numerous Miraculous Copies in Ukraine, some with a very rich history, such as in Peskakh in Kharkiv, Derman in Volyn and Kaplunivka. The Kaplunivka Icon, near Kharkiv and Okhtyrka refused to let the Church in which it was enshrined, burn at the instigation of the Swedish soldiers of Charles XII. This was said to have demoralized the Swedish Lutheran King, especially since Tsar Peter had taken the original Icon with him into battle. Another Kazan Icon is that of the Golden Gate in Kiev, in the Trinity Church. Another miraculous Kazan Icon is in the Nearer Caves of the Kiev Caves Lavra. Other Volyn miraculous copies of the Kazan Icon are in Nikolsk Church in Little Sadochky and in Little Dederkal, in the town of Lopavshy.

“The Multiplier of Breads” Icon, Russia
Comm. October 15
This unusual Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was commissioned by St. Ambrose of Optina, and reflects the profound, childlike faith he had in the Mother of God. The Elder himself gave the Icon its title (Sporitel’nitsa Khlebov in Russian, translated in English as “Multiplier of Breads” or “She Who Ripens the Grain”), which conveys an image of the Mother of God as helping those in need to obtain their “daily bread”.
The Icon was sent to St. Ambrose in 1890 by Abbess Ilaria of the Bolkhov Convent. Its original composition depicts the Mistress of Creation seated upon clouds, her arms outstretched in supplication; below is a harvested field on which are several sheaves of wheat.
The Elder himself prayed before this Icon, and he encouraged his spiritual daughters - the nuns of the Shamordino Convent which he founded - to do likewise. In the last year of his life, which the Elder spent at Shamordino, he ordered copies to be made of this Icon, and distributed them to his many devoted spiritual children among the laity. Not long before his repose, the Elder composed a special refrain for singing the general Akathist to the Mother of God before this Icon: “Rejoice, Thou full of grace, the Lord is with Thee! Grant also unto us unworthy ones the dew of Thy grace and show us Thy loving-kindness!”
The nuns often sang the Akathist with this refrain in the cell of the failing Elder. St. Ambrose established that the Icon be commemorated on 15 October. On this very day the Elder, who reposed on 10 October, was lowered into the grave. This coincidence confirmed, as it were, the Elder’s reply to his father confessor’s query: “Batiushka, you are dying. To whom will you entrust your convent?” Elder Ambrose answered with his characteristic simplicity and trust, “I’m leaving the convent to the Queen of Heaven.” And not in vain. Although all across Russia, 1891 was a year of meager harvests, the Shamordino fields did not fail to yield an abundance of wheat.
The summer following the Elder’s repose, a faithful copy of this Icon, executed by Ivan Feodorovich Cherepanov, one of his close disciples, was sent to the newly-established Piatnitsk Convent in the Voronezh district, where there was a serious drought. Soon after a Service of intercession was held before the “Multiplier” Icon, it began to rain, and the threat of famine was dispelled.
One might be tempted to criticize the Icon’s realistic style, which, although popular in both Greece and Russia, falls outside proper iconographic tradition. Without legitimating such realism, the Icon does serve as one more example of how careful one must be not to confine God to our standards of correctness. The spirit blows where it wills. Clearly, faith and love stand above stylistic purity.

The Zhirovits Icon, Russia
Comm. May 7
In the Spring of 1494, some shepherds in Zhirovits, near the present-day Polish-Belorussian border, saw an unusually bright light emanating from a thicket. On closer inspection, they saw in the branches of a wild pear tree an Icon of the Mother of God, surrounded by a shining radiance. It was a small oval image, chiselled in granite. They stood transfixed for several minutes until the light faded. Then, after venerating the Icon, the shepherds reverently lifted it from the tree and took it to their master, the wealthy Lithuanian Orthodox landowner, Alexander Soltan. The latter didn’t take much stock in the shepherds’ story and rather casually put the Icon away in a trunk.
That evening, Soltan had a gathering of guests. In the course of conversation, the host mentioned the shepherds’ discovery. The guests expressed interest in seeing the Icon, but when Soltan went to get the Icon, he found it was missing. The shepherds, who did not know of the Icon’s disappearance, found it again in the same wild pear tree. This time, Soltan showed greater reverence for the Icon, and vowed to build a Church dedicated to the Mother of God on the site of its miraculous appearance. Attracted by the sacred Image, a number of peasants began moving to the area and a settlement grew up around the Church. About 1520 a fire ravaged the community; the wooden Church burned to the ground, leaving no trace of the Icon in the ashes. One day, however, some children were passing by the site of the former Church on their way home from school when they saw a wondrous sight: surrounded by radiant light, a Woman of exceptional beauty sat on a large rock holding the Zhirovits Icon. The children ran to tell their parents, who returned together with the Priest. The Woman had disappeared, but to their great joy they found on the rock the wonderworking Icon.
In the mid-sixteenth century a monastery was founded in Zhirovits. Privately owned as part of Soltan’s holdings, it changed hands with unsettling frequency until it was purchased in 1605 by a certain Ivan Meleshko, who converted to Roman Catholicism and donated the monastery to the Uniates. It remained in Uniate hands for 200 years. When changing political tides brought the territory into the Russian Empire, the monastery returned under Orthodox jurisdiction. A Seminary, established in Zhirovits in 1827, contributed greatly to the restoration of Orthodoxy in the area.
The wonderworking Zhirovits Icon has been preserved to this day in the Monastery’s Dormition Cathedral.

The Yakhrom Icon, Russia
Comm. October 14
Not far from the ancient Russian city of Vladimir, near a spring which fed into the river Yakhrom, two travellers stopped to rest. One was a pious landowner who was ill; the other was his indentured servant, a youth by the name of Cosmas. Fatigued by the journey, the sick man fell asleep. Suddenly Cosmas noticed a blinding light coming from a nearby tree and he heard a mysterious voice: "Attend and understand the words of life. Show forth a God-pleasing life and seek the joy of the righteous, and then you shall enjoy eternal good things." In the tree the youth caught sight of an Icon of the Mother of God. Reverently, he took the Icon and placed it upon his master, who then woke up, miraculously healed.
Soon Cosmas’ period of service came to an end. Obedient to the mysterious voice which had told him to leave the world for the sake of God, he made his way to the Kiev-Caves Lavra. In view of his youth, he was accepted with difficulty into the brotherhood, but he soon proved himself worthy of the monastic calling, amazing even the experienced monks with his strict ascetic practices.
Years went by and an Angel appeared to Cosmas, telling him to return to the place where he had found the Icon. He did so, and again the place filled with ineffable light. There he founded a Monastery dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. He delighted in receiving pilgrims and travellers, and in visiting the sick. Many faithful were attracted to the Monstery by the Yakhrom Icon, which, for more than four centuries, continued as a source of miracles and the mercy of the Heavenly Queen.
The wonderworking Yakhrom Icon is commemorated on the day of its discovery, October 14. Cosmas reposed on February 18, 1492, and was acknowledged by the Church as having entered the ranks of the Saints.

The "Conversational" Icon, Russia
Comm. August 14
In 1383, an Icon of the Mother of God was miraculously transported from Constantinople to the Novgorod region, where it eventually settled in the woods beyond the river Tikhvin. A wooden Church was built to house this wonderworking Tikhvin icon (commemorated June 26), and the ecclesiarch George was sent to surrounding villages to inform people of the day of the Church’s consecration. As he was returning, he had a vision of the Mother of God, sitting on a pine log and surrounded by a radiant light; nearby stood a Hierarch, whom the ecclesiarch recognized to be St. Nicholas. Icons were later painted depicting this vision, and several became renowned as wonderworking images. One of the most revered of these "Conversational" Icons, as they were called, was found in the town of Pavlovsk, in the Zvenigorod district of Moscow.
A young peasant woman, Theodosia Vassilieva, suffered from attacks of a debilitating illness: she would be seized by acute pains in her head, arms and legs, exhausting her strength and forcing her to bed. In 1848, during a particularly severe and prolonged bout, she had a dream in which she was holding a Icon of the Mother of God, chipped and blackened with age. From the Icon, Theodosia heard a voice:
"Renew me, I shall be a helper of Christians. How many years have I been lying in some forlorn place, and no one has bothered to find and renew me."
"How shall I find you?" asked Theodosia.
"When you mind, you’ll find," came the answer.
Three days later, Theodosia felt well enough to make her way to the local Church. Entering the foyer, she saw on the wall the same "Conversational" Icon she had beheld in her dream. The old Icon had been relegated to the basement of the Church, where it had lain neglected for many years until, in 1846, the Church watchman had rescued it and placed it in the foyer. Theodosia collected some money and the Icon was taken to Moscow to be restored.
The night before the Icon returned to Pavlovsk, Theodosia saw in a dream the restored Icon and heard a voice directing her to take the Icon home and have a moleben served before it, which she did. At the beginning of the moleben, Theodosia had a seizure, but after she was sprinkled with holy water, she came to herself. She then drank some holy water and afterwards felt strong enough to carry the Icon back to the Church herself. Very soon she made a complete recovery.
When Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow was informed of the miracle, he instructed that the Priests make a weekly report of any other miraculous manifestations. Among these were the healings of another peasant girl, Natalia, and of a peasant, Paul, both of whom suffered from epileptic seizures.

The Myrtlewood Icon, Greece
Comm. 24 September
Some time in the 14th c., a shepherd on the Greek island of Cythera was pasturing his sheep in a deserted valley which, being covered with myrtle bushes. Forty days after the Feast of Dormition, he was there with his flock, when he saw a vision of the Most Holy Mother of God and heard a voice: "If you seek me, walk until you find my Icon, which came here many years ago, to give help to this place." The shepherd fell to the ground and with tears prayed to the Mother of God. When he arose, he turned around and, O, the miracle! he beheld an Icon of the All-pure Theotokos nestled in the branches of one of the myrtle bushes. Weeping for joy at finding such a treasure, he thanked God for it and took the Icon home to his hut after sharing the news of its discovery with his friends and relatives.
On awaking the next morning, the shepherd was grieved to find that the Icon was missing. Perhaps, he thought, a jealous neighbor had taken it while he was asleep. He was very downcast as he led his flock to their usual pasturage. Coming to the spot where he had discovered the Icon, he was astonished to see the Icon resting in the very same bush. His joy knew no bounds. Glorifying God, he took the Icon home, just as he had the previous day. That night, however, the Icon again disappeared, and again he found it in the myrtle bush. When this happened a third time, the shepherd realized that that it was the will of the Mother of God that her Icon remain there where it was first revealed. On that spot the villagers built a small Church, which they called “Our Lady of the Myrtlewood” (or Myrtidiotissa in Greek), in honor of the Icon.
Later this small Church was replaced by a larger one, and accommodations were built nearby for pilgrims. Still later, in 1838, a large Basilica-style Church was built above the old one, and the complex was further expanded with the addition of more guest quarters, an underground cistern, and a garden.
Among the numerous miracles related to this Icon, we have the following accounts.
The Healing of a Paralytic
At the end of the 16th c., there lived on Cythera, in the village of Kousounari, a paralytic, a descendent of the very shepherd who had discovered the Icon "of the Myrtlewood." This man, Theodore Koumprianos, was very pious and firmly believed that through the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos he could be cured of his illness. Every year since his paralysis, on September 24, he would send a member of his family to the Church of Our Lady of the Myrtlewood to light candles. One year he decided to have his family carry him to the shrine in order that he might venerate the Holy Icon himself. During the vigil Service, there was a great commotion coming from the direction of the sea. Fearing a pirate attack, the worshipers fled, leaving the paralytic alone in the Church. He prayed fervently to the Mother of God for protection and, O wonder, he heard a voice coming from the Icon, "Get up and flee!"
Slowly and rather uncertainly, his joints creaking, the paralytic rose from his bed. He left the Church, gaining strength with every minute, and very soon he was able to run so fast that he caught up with his relatives. All rejoiced greatly on seeing this proof of a miracle. It was later determined that no pirates had landed on the island; the only explanation for the noise was that it was divinely purposed that the paralytic might be left alone with the wonderworking Icon. In memory of this miracle, Koumprianos ordained that he and his descendents would hold a special celebration on the Icon’s feastday, September 24, the day he was miraculously cured of his paralysis.
A Plague Averted
In 1816, when Cythera was being annexed to the British Empire, the Holy Icon "of the Myrtlewood" was being kept in the Chapel of the guardhouse in the main village of the island. One night, an English soldier on guard duty saw in the air a huge flame approach the island from the direction of Crete. When this flame neared the south-east corner of the guardhouse, a lady in black suddenly appeared, and the flame rapidly retreated in the direction from which it had come. This venerable lady then vanished from the eyes of the astonished Englishman.
By the following day, news of this extraordinary incident had spread through the whole garrison. Its meaning was made clear when, a few days later, some people came from Crete and reported that that island was being ravaged by a terrible plague, claiming scores of victims daily. The pious Orthodox of Cythera immediately realized that the "lady" was none other than the Mother of God, and that the flame symbolized the approach of the plague. In spite of the frequent contacts between the two islands, the plague never did reach Cythera. And to this day, Cythera has been spared from epidemics that spread through the rest of Greece, a mercy that the people of Cythera attribute to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, who protects them even as she promised.
Healing from Barrenness
A Jewish woman from Alexandria had suffered from barrenness for many years, when an acquaintance, a woman from Cythera, told her about the miracleworking Icon "of the Myrtle-wood." Desperate for a child, the Jewish woman prayed to the Mother of God, and, a miracle: nine months later she give birth. In gratitude, the Jewish woman visited the church of the Myrtidiotissa on Cythera, and presented a gift of a precious pearl necklace, which now adorns the icon on great feasts.
A Soldier's Life is Spared
During the disastrous retreat from Smyrna in Asia Minor by the Greek Expeditionary Forces, a soldier of Cythera, Spyridon Haios, experienced a miracle. His company and another were ordered to attack a certain hill on which a Turkish artillery unit was stationed, so that the retreating Greek army would not be bombarded from the rear. As these companies charged the hill, Spyridon, knowing that he would certainly be injured or even die, took out the medallion of the Myrtidiotissa Icon that he always kept with him, and begged the Most Holy Mother of God to spare his life. And lo, while two-thirds of the attacking Greeks were killed and another third were wounded, he came out of the battle unscathed. Survivors later attested that Spyridon was in the vanguard of the attack, and the military awarded him three medals for bravery. None of these, however, meant a millionth as much to him as the medallion of the Mother of God "of the Myrtlewood."

The Murom – Ryazan Icon, Russia
Comm. 12 April
In the early 12th c., the Principality of Murom-Ryazan, located within the northeastern reaches of Kievan Rus, was still largely pagan. The efforts of Prince Constantine to convert the populace were futile. Some of the more fanatic pagans even plotted to kill him. On learning of this the Prince prayed earnestly to God and, taking with him an Icon of the Mother of God which he had brought from Kiev, he went out to confront the conspirators. The pagans were so overcome with awe at the sight of the Icon that they straightway begged forgiveness of the Prince and consented to be baptized.
The Murom Icon was glorified by many other miracles. In the 13th c. the Holy Bishop Basil of Murom was unjustly suspected of gross misconduct. The people were so incensed that the Bishop was in peril of his life. After praying all night in the Church of Sts. Boris and Gleb, he went to the Annunciation Church and served a moleben before the Murom Icon.Placing his hope in the divine assistance of the Mother of God, he took the Icon to the Oka River, spread his mantia on the waters and, holding the Icon, stepped onto his mantia as if it were a boat. A strong wind carried the Saint upstream to Old Ryazan, where he was received with honor by the Prince and the people.
Because the city was vulnerable to attacks by the Tartars, the Saint decided to seek a safer location and, in 1291, established his cathedra in New Ryazan, which became the permanent residence of his successors. The Murom Icon was enshrined in the Nativity of Christ Cathedral, where it was venerated down to the present century.
The Murom Icon bears resemblance to the Yakhrom Icon: the Christ Child is cradled on the left arm of the Mother of God; His right hand touches her chin, while His left hand hangs down holding a scroll representing the Scriptures. In the Murom Icon, however, the head of the Christ Child leans back against the shoulder of His Mother, and the scroll is unwound to reveal the words, "I am the light of the world."
The Murom Icon was originally commemorated in the second week of the Apostles’ Fast, but at the request of the people of Ryazan, its feast was later transferred by the Synod to April 12, the feastday of St. Basil.

The Kursk - Root Icon of the Sign, U.S.A.
Comm. 8 September
In the 13th c., during the dreadful period of the Tartar invasion of Russia, the devastated province of Kursk was emptied of people and its principal city, Kursk, became a wilderness. Now, the residents of the city of Rylsk, which had been preserved from invasion, often journeyed to the site of Kursk to hunt wild beasts. One of the hunters, going along the bank of the river to Skal, which was not very far from ruined Kursk, noticed an icon lying face down on the ground next to the root of a tree. The hunter picked it up and found that it was an Icon of the Sign, such as was enshrined and venerated in the city of Novgorod. At this time, the Icon's first miracle was worked, for no sooner had the hunter picked up the sacred Image than there immediately gushed forth with great force an abundant spring of pure water. This took place on September 8th in the year 1295.
The hunter constructed a small wooden Chapel and placed the newly manifested Image of the Mother of God therein. The residents of Rylsk began to visit the place of the manifestation of this holy object and the Icon was glorified by miracles all the more. Prince Vasily Shemyaka of Rylsk ordered that the Icon be brought to the city of Rylsk itself and this was done in a solemn manner, for the people of the city went forth to meet the Icon of the Mother of God; but Shemyaka himself declined to attend the festivities and for this reason was punished with blindness. The Prince, however, repented and straightway re ceived healing. Moved by this miracle, Shemyaka constructed a Church in the city of Rylsk in honor of the Nativity of the All-Holy Theotokos, and there the miraculous Icon was enshrined on September 8th, the day of its manifestation, appointed as the annual feast date.
But the Icon vanished in a miraculous manner and returned to the place of its original appearance. The residents of Rylsk continually brought it back, but each time it returned to its former place. Then, understanding that the Mother of God was well pleased to dwell in the place of the manifestation ofher Image, they eventually left it there in peace. Innumerable pilgrimages streamed to the site and services of supplication were celebrated there by a certain Priest whose name was Bogoliub and who dwelt at the site of the wooden Chapel and struggled there in asceticism.
In the year 1383, the province of Kursk was subjected to a new invasion of Tartars. They decided to set fire to the Chapel, but it refused to burn, even though they piled up fuel all around it, and so the superstitious barbarians fell upon the Priest Bogoliub, accusing him of sorcery. The pious Priest denounced their foolishness and pointed out the Icon of the Mother of God to them. The malicious Tartars laid hold of the Holy Icon and cut it in two, casting the pieces to either side. The Chapel then caught fire and the Priest Bogoliub was carried off a prisoner.
In his captivity, the God-loving Elder kept the Faith, placing his hope on the All-Holy Mother of God, and this hope did not fail him. Now, one day as he was guarding flocks and passing the time by singing prayers and doxologies in honor of the Mother of God, there passed by some emissaries of the Tsar of Moscow.
They heard this chanting, arranged to ransom the Priest from captivity, and Bogoliub returned to the former site of the Chapel. There he found the pieces of the miraculous Icon which the Tartars had cast away. He picked them up and straightway they grew together, although the signs of the split remained. Learning of this miracle, the residents of Rylsk gave glory to God and to His All-Pure Mother. Again they attempted to transfer the Holy Icon to their city, but once more the miraculous image returned to its former place. A new Chapel was then built on the original site of the Icon's appearance and here it remained for about 200 years.
The city of Kursk was revived in the year 1597 at the command of Theodore Ivanovich of Moscow. This pious Tsar, who had heard of the miracles of the Icon, expressed his desire to behold it, and in Moscow, the Icon was greeted with great solemnity. The Tsaritsa, Irene Theodorovna, adorned the Holy Icon with a precious riza. At the command of the Tsar, the Icon was set in a silver-gilt frame upon which were depicted the Lord of Hosts and prophets holding scrolls in their hands. The Icon was subsequently returned and, with the close cooperation of the Tsar, a Monastery was founded on the site of the Chapel. A Church, dedicated to the Life-bearing Spring, was built above the same spring that had appeared when the Icon was first revealed and the Monastery attached to it was called the Kursk Root Hermitage in honor of the manifestation of the Icon at the root of the tree.
During an invasion of Crimean Tartars, the Icon was transferred to the Cathedral Church of Kursk, and an exact copy was left at the Hermitage. Tsar Boris Godunov bestowed many precious gifts for the adornment of the Icon and even the pretender, the false Dimitry, who desired to call attention to himself and to win the support of those who lived in the vicinity of Kursk, venerated this Icon and placed it in the royal mansions where it remained until the year 1615.
While the Icon was absent from the city of Kursk, the grace-bearing aid of the Mother of God did not forsake that city, for when in the year 1612 the Poles laid siege to Kursk, certain of the citizens beheld the Mother of God and two radiant monks above the city. Captured Poles related that they, too, had beheld a woman and two radiant men on the city walls, and that this woman made threatening gestures at those who were conducting the siege. The citizens then made a vow to construct a Monastery in honor of the All-Holy Theotokos and to place the miraculous Icon therein. The besiegers were quickly put to flight and in gratitude to their heavenly helper, the people of Kursk built a Monastery in honor of the All-Holy Theotokos of the Sign.
In 1676, the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign was borne to the Don River to bless the forces of the Don Cossacks. In 1684, a copy of the miraculous Icon of the All-Holy Theotokos of the Sign was sent to the Monastery of the Root by the sovereigns and Great Princes Ivan and Peter Alexievich. This copy was set in a silver-gilt frame and a command was made that this copy be borne wherever Orthodox warriors went into battle.
In the year 1812, the Kursk Civic Society sent to General Kutuzov a copy of the miracu-lous Icon of Kursk, setting it in a silver-gilt frame. The commander expressed his gratitude to the citizens of Kursk and his belief that Kursk would remain free, thanks to the protection of the Queen of Heaven.
In March of 1898 a group of anarchists, desiring to undermine the faith ofthe people in the wonder-working power of the Icon, decided to destroy it. They placed a time bomb in the Cathedral of the Sign, and at two o'clock in the morning a horrendous explosion rent the air and all the walls of the monastery were shaken. The frightened monastic brethren rushed immedia-tely to the Cathedral, where they beheld a scene of horrible devastation. The force of the blast had shattered the gilded canopy above the Icon. The heavy marble base, constructed of several massive steps, had been jolted out of position and split into several pieces. A huge metal candlestick which stood before the Icon had been blown to the opposite side of the Cathedral. A door of cast iron located near the Icon n'ad been torn from its hinges and cast outside, where it smashed against a wall and caused a deep crack. All the windows in the Cathedral and even those in the dome above were shattered. Amid the general devastation, the Holy Icon remained intact and even the glass within the frame remained whole. Thinking to destroy the Icon, the anarchists had, on the contrary, become the cause of its greater glorification.
Every year on Friday of the ninth week after Pascha, the Icon of the Sign was solemnly borne in procession from the Kursk Cathedral of the Sign to the place of its original manife-station at the Kursk Hermitage, where it remained until September 12. On September 13, it was again solemnly returned to the city of Kursk. This procession was instituted in the year 1618 in memory of the transfer of the Icon from Moscow to Kursk and to commemorate its original appearance.
During the Bolshevik Revolution, the Icon was removed from the Cathedral of the Sign on April 12, 1918. Search was made for the Icon hut without result. The holy object was discovered under the following circumstances: Not far from the Monastery there lived a poor girl and her mother who for three days had not had anything to eat. At that time Kursk was controlled by the Bolshevik regime. On May 3, the girl, a seamstress, went off to the marketplace in search of bread. Returning home at about one o'clock in the morning, she passed by a well which, according to tradition, had been dug by St. Theodosius of the Caves. There, on the edge of the well, she beheld a package wrapped in a sack, and when she opened it, in the package she found the sacred Icon, which apparently had been left there by those who had stolen it.
At the end of October 1919, when the White Russian Army was evacuating the city of Kursk, twelve monks of the Monastery transferred the Icon to the city of Belgorod, from which it was again transferred, first to Taganrog and Ekaterinodar, and then to Novorossiisk. During the cvacuation, with the permission of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky who was then President of the Higher Ecclesiastical Administration in Southern Russia, the Icon was taken aboard the steamship St. Nicholas by Bishop Theophan of Kursk on March 1, 1920, and was transported to the city of Thessalonica.
On April 3, Bishop Theophan took the Icon to the city of Pec, the ancient capital of Serbia. For four months the Icon remained in Pec, and in September, at the request of Baron Wrangel, it was returned again to the Crimea. A year after departing from the city of Kursk, on October 29, 1920, the Holy Image again left its native land during the evacuation of the White Army and those Russian people who refused to submit to the Soviet regime. After arriving again in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes, with the blessing of Patriarch Dimitry. The Holy Icon remained with Bishop Theophan in the Serbian Monastery of Yazak on Frushkaya Mountain. From the end of 1927, the Icon was to be found in the Russian Church of the Holy Trinity in the city of Belgrade.
With the blessing of the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Theophan bore the Icon around to various places where Russians of the diaspora dwelt. During World War II, when Belgrade was subjected to bombardment and other tribulations associated with the war, the miraculous Icon became a rampart of hope for all that approached it with sincere prayer.
The steadfast companion of those Russian people who did not accept the satanic authority, this great and ancient holy object, which remained in Moscow during the dreadful turmoil of the 17th c., was removed from Yugoslavia in the autumn of 1944 together with those who again fled the godless regime. From ruined Vienna, the Icon was borne to the tranquil city of Carlsbad to which the Synod of Bishops had been evacuated. With the approach of the Bolsheviks it was again transferred to Munich in the spring of 1945. The Holy Icon proved to be an unending consolation to many thousands of people who were experiencing all the trials and tribulations of the latter years of World War II.
From Munich the Icon was borne to Switzerland, France, Belgium, England, Austria, and many cities and camps in Germany itself. Subsequently, the Icon was transferred to the New World where it had its permanent residence first in the New Kursk Hermitage in Mahopac, N.Y., and then in the Synod's Cathedral Church of the Mother of God of the Sign in New York City, the residence of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
At present, by decree of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, a festival is held in honor of the Icon at the New Kursk Hermitage in Mahopac, N.Y., on the Sunday nearest the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, and in the Synod's Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign in New York City on November 27/December 10.


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