Site page



The Icon of the Mother of God known as "the Healer"
18 September/1 October

"The Healer" Icon of the Mother of God is one of the most ancient (6th Century). In the 18th Century, another icon with the same name was glorified with miracles. St. Dimity of Rostov's book, "The Bedewed Fleece" contains the following account of the miraculous sign of the Theotokos: Vincent Bul'venenskiy, a cleric of the Navarninsk church had a pious custom of prostrating himself before the image of the Mother of God as he would enter or exit the church and say the following short prayer: Rejoice, O full of Grace! The Lord is with Thee! Blessed is the womb that carried Christ, and the paps which fed our Lord God and Savior!" Once this pious cleric fell ill with a dangerous sickness: his tongue began to rot, and the pain was so great that he would lose his reason. Coming to, the ailing one would say his usual prayer to the Theotokos and immediately saw a beautiful youth at his bedside. This was his Guardian Angel. Looking with compassion upon the ailing one, the angel called to the Most Holy Theotokos, raising up a prayer f healing. Suddenly the Theotokos Herself appeared and sent a sign of Her ineffable mercy: the sick one felt himself to be completely healthy, entered the church, and went to the kliros with the other chanters.

The Prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos before Her icon called "The Healer"

Accept, O All-Blessed and All-Powerful Mistress Virgin Theotokos, these prayers which we, your unworthy servants offer with tears before Your healing image, lifting up our song with compunction as if You Yourself were here, listening to our prayer. For You answer every petition, alleviate sorrows, grant health to the ailing, heal the weak and ill, drive away the demons from the possessed, deliver the offended from misfortune, cleanse the impure and have mercy upon little children: moreover, O Mistress Lady Theotokos, you free from chains the imprisoned and heal all manner of passions. For everything is possible by Your intercession before your Son, Christ our God. O Most Lauded Mother, Most Holy Theotokos! Do not cease to intercede for us your unworthy servants who glorify and worship You, bowing down before Your Most Pure image with compunction, and having unfeigned hope and undoubting faith in You, the Ever Virgin Most Glorious and Pure, now and ever and unto the ages of ages Amen.

"Mirozh" Icon
24 September / 7 October

In Pskov, near the source of the Mirozh river, stands the men’s Spassky Monastery [Monastery of the Savior], established in the year 1156.Before the Revolution, it held the Miraculous Mirozh Sign Icon of the Theotokos. On that Icon, the Most-holy Theotokos was depicted standing at full-length.At her right hand stood the Righteous Dovmont (in Holy Baptism Timothy), Prince of Pskov, and at her left, his wife, Princess Maria Dimitrievna; both shown in an attitude of prayer.Miraculous flowing of tears from the Icon, and many other miracles wrought while a plague epidemic was raging in Pskov during the reign of Ivan IV Vasilievitch, caused the Icon to be glorified on 24 September 1567.A special service composed in honor of the Mirozh Icon of the Theotokos was published in 1666.

29 September/12 October

The Yaroslavl-Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God was one found in the cell of Archimandrite Anthony of the Holy Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra. During prayers on October 12, 1642, he heard a voice coming from the Smolensk-Hodigitria Icon, saying “I go, I go to the city of Yaroslavl, to the newly-established monastery dedicated to my name.” Archimandrite Anthony sent this Icon with Monk Herman to the indicated monastery, which stood in a forest not far from Yarioslavl. The Miraculous Icon was installed near the Altar of the monastery church.

1/14 October

According to tradition, in Krupets, a village located several kilometers from the city of Minsk, an Icon which came to be known as the Krupets Icon of the Mother of God was miraculously revealed in a local spring in the year 1612, and a chapel was erected in its honor. Parishioners/visitors would pour out their feelings before the Image of the Mother of God, and would quench their thirst with water from the spring. The water, which poured out from beneath the Altar, was pure, and was considered to have healing properties. Later, in 1856, at the initiative of Shklyarevitch, the Governor of Minsk, a large church dedicated to the Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos, was erected in place of the chapel. In that church, the Miraculous Icon of the Mother of God stood in a gold shrine to the left of the entrance. In 1884, it became the practice to carry the Icon in solemn procession to Minsk each October, and to return it to Krupets each May. For over seven months each year, it would remain in the Minsk Holy Protection /Holy Cross Church in the Bishop’s Metochion.

The fate of each of these churches was unfortunate. In 1936, the first was taken apart by workers of a local collective farm. To date, it is not known what happened to the Krupets Icon of the Mother of God, as the Holy Protection /Holy Cross Church in the Bishop’s Metochion was destroyed, and on its site was erected the House of the Red Army (now the Officers’ Club) – on Skobelevsky (now Red Army) Street.

However, the people did not allow the path they had worn to the spring to become overgrown. A constant stream of people would come to Krupets in order to drink of and wash in the water, which brought them help, especially in the cases of ocular disorders. Beginning in the fall of 1992, they began to serve Moleben services at the spring. To this day, people continue to draw water from beneath the cupola topped with a Cross. Construction of an entire parish complex on the site is being planned.

"Tenderness" of Pskov-Caves
7/20 October

Several days before Stephan Batory laid siege to Pskov in 1581, and after the Mother of God miraculously had appeared to Elder Dorotheos, Abbot Tikhon of the Pskov-Caves Monastery was ordered to bring the Pskov-Caves Dormition and Tenderness Icons and to celebrate divine services at the places indicated by the Theotokos. By God’s grace and through the intercession of the Most-holy Virgin, Pskov was spared desolation, and the Caves Monastery was spared destruction. October 7th was established as the Feast Day of the Pskov-Caves Icon, in commemoration of Pskov’s deliverance from the invasion of the French in 1812; the celebration included a Procession of the Cross about the city.

"Kasperov" Icon
29 June / 12 July, 1/14 October и
and on Wednesday of the Bright Week

At the close of the 16th Century, a Serb took the "Kasperov" Icon of the Mother of God from Transylvania to his new home in the Olviopolsk district in Kherson province. The Icon was handed down in blessing from parent to child, and in 1809 came into the possession of a certain Mrs. Kasperov, who lived in the village of Novo-Ivanovo, situated on the right bank of the Dniepr River. It so happened that in February 1840, Mrs. Kasperov was praying long into the night over her many sorrows. During those prayers she saw that the ancient Icon, which was so darkened with age that it was difficult to make out its features, had suddenly renovated itself, and that the faces of the Theotokos and the Savior had become clear and bright; they have remained so to this day. Soon thereafter, many instances of healings and other grace-filled miracles coming from the Icon revealed its wonderful power, and brought it renown. Following a study of the many miracles stemming from the Icon, the Icon was acknowledged to be miraculous. From everywhere, those who were suffering, those beset by illnesses, those in need of divine assistance, were drawn to the Icon.

In 1852 the residents of Kherson requested permission to have an annual Procession of the Cross with the Icon on the Feast of the Lord's Ascension. During the war years 1853-1855, such a Procession of the Cross with the Icon took place in Odessa because of the hostilities besetting that city and the city remained unharmed. This was taken as a sign of the Mother of God's special protection. It was then decided "to make this event ever-memorable unto instruction to future generations, and to make October 1 a Holy Feast-day." Each year, the Icon is taken in procession from Kasperovka to Odessa, where it remains from October 1 until the fourth day of Pascha. From the Feast of the Ascension until July 29 it is in Kherson, and from July 1 until August 1, in Nikolaev. In each of these towns, the Akathist to the Most-holy Theotokos is sung before the Miraculous Icon each Friday.

The "Kasperov" Icon is an ancient image written in oils on canvas and affixed to a board. Flanking the central image on the Icon are St. John the Baptist the Holy Martyr Tatiana. The Icon is 30.8 cm in height and 26.4 cm in width. The Mother of God is depicted holding the Pre-eternal Infant on her left arm. In His right hand, He holds a scroll. Framing the Icon is a gold riza of fine craftsmanship, decorated with pearls, rough and cut diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

The "Koukouzelissa" Icon
1/14 October

The Icon of the Mother of God known as the Koukozelissa, or Koukouzel Icon takes its name from John Koukouzel, who was born in the 12th century in Dirrachia ( Bulgaria ). Orphaned in his youth, he enrolled in the palace school in Constantinople . There his extremely sweet and delicate voice, attractive appearance, and outstanding talents brought him to the attention of Emperor Comnenos, ultimately resulting in his becoming the court chanter. However, despite the favors extended to the young chanter, and despite all the attractions of life at court, his heart was burdened by an inexpressible sense of mystical sadness and indifference to all the pleasures of life.

Feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction intensified within him even more after he learned that the emperor was planning to have him marry. John decided to flee the capital and hide in some remote desert. At the time, the abbot of the St. Athanasios Lavra on Mt. Athos had come to the capital on monastery business. John chanced to meet him, make his acquaintance, and to reveal to him his predicament and his intention [to leave the court]. The Elder approved of and blessed John’s plans. After the Abbot had left, John followed him out of the capital and to Mt. Athos , and in the guise of a pilgrim approached the Lavra gates. In response to the porter’s request to identify where he was from and why he was there, John answered that he was a simple commoner, a shepherd, and that he wanted to become a monk. The porter remarked that he was still young. John humbly answered, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth…” (Lamentations 3:27).

He was admitted to the Monastery, tonsured, and given the obedience of tending the monastery flock in the pastures far up the mountain. Thus, John’s new responsibility made it possible for him to delve without impediment into prayer and contemplation of God.

Meanwhile, the emperor, saddened by his favorite’s flight, dispatched a delegation to look for him. However, under God’s protection John remained unrecognized. It so happened that while sitting deep in thought near his flock, and thinking that there was no one else in the desert, that no one could hear him, the shepherd/chanter began to sing familiar divine hymns, and his angelic voice poured forth and echoed far across the heights of Mt. Athos. For a long time John, emotionally caught up [in the hymns] sweetly sang, was unaware that near him was a certain desert-dweller hiding in a wild cleft in the hill. The melodist’s marvelous chanting had a profound effect on the strict anchorite’s heart, moving him to tears, warming his soul and having a beneficial effect upon it. All the while John was singing, the desert-dweller never took his eyes off him; he could not imagine how such an angelic voice, such an amazing singer, could happen to be in the wilderness. He set off for the Lavra and told the abbot about the marvelous shepherd with the touching voice. Summoned out of the hidden wilderness and made to swear before God [to tell the truth], he revealed to the abbot that he was the John, the court melodist.

Heeding John’s humble and tearful plea, the rector allowed him to return to his obedience as a shepherd, but also felt constrained to go to Constantinople and tell the emperor of this unexpected discovery.

The emperor listened attentively to the abbot’s detailed account regarding John. He wept, and with considerable emotion, said, “I regret losing my only chanter! I regret losing my John! Yet, if he has already been tonsured, there is nothing to be done. Salvation of the soul is what is most precious. Let him pray for my salvation and for my kingdom.” On receiving such pleasant news, John built himself a kellion with a church dedicated to the Holy Archangels. He would remain there in isolation six days each week, and on Sundays and Feast Days would come to the Cathedral, where he would stand on the right kliros and touchingly join the others in song.

Once, after singing the Akathist on the Saturday of the Akathist, and after the Vigil, he was resting on the forma, the monastic seat, across from the Icon of the Mother of God before which the Akathist had been chanted, when he fell exhausted into a light and restful sleep.

Suddenly a meek voice said to him, “Rejoice, John!” John looked, and saw standing before him the Mother of God, radiant with divine light. “Sing, and don’t stop…” she continued, “…that is why I have always been with you.” After saying that, the Mother of God put a chervonets [a gold piece] in John’s hand, and disappeared.

Seized with inexpressible joy, John awoke and found himself holding a chervonets in his right hand. With tears of thanksgiving he blessed the mercy shown him by the Queen of Heaven. The chervonets was suspended from the icon of the Mother of God before which John had sung and before which he had been made worthy of a heavenly vision.

That icon, and the gold piece itself, became sources of amazing miracles.

The Koukouzelissa (also known as the Economissa) is in the Lavra of St. Athanasios on Mount Athos and is the principal icon in the Chapel of the Most-holy Theotokos’ Entry into the Temple; three never-extinguished vigil lamps burn constantly before the Icon.

"Tenderness" of Pskov-Caves
7/20 October

Several days before Stephan Batory laid siege to Pskov in 1581, and after the Mother of God miraculously had appeared to Elder Dorotheos, Abbot Tikhon of the Pskov-Caves Monastery was ordered to bring the Pskov-Caves Dormition and Tenderness Icons and to celebrate divine services at the places indicated by the Theotokos. By God’s grace and through the intercession of the Most-holy Virgin, Pskov was spared desolation, and the Caves Monastery was spared destruction. October 7th was established as the Feast Day of the Pskov-Caves Icon, in commemoration of Pskov’s deliverance from the invasion of the French in 1812; the celebration included a Procession of the Cross about the city.

Zographou "Of the Akathist"
10 / 23 October

In the difficult days of the Eastern empire, when mighty Rome was striving to bring under her sway the Orthodox Church, a pious elder took up his struggle in solitude near the Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos. It was his practice to read, several times a day, an akathist to the Mother of God before her icon in his cell. Once, as the word “rejoice” sounded in continual greeting to the Most-holy Theotokos, his “rejoice,” was met by a response from her icon: “And you rejoice as well, o elder of God.” Although he became frightened, the voice from the icon quickly continued. “Do not fear, but go quickly to the monastery and tell the abbot and the brethren that the foe is near. Let those who are weak in spirit hide themselves until this temptation passes, but let those who wish a martyr’s crown remain. Hurry.”

The elder immediately left this cell and hurried to the monastery. He had barely entered the gates, when he saw that the icon before which he had just read the akathist in his cell was already at the monastery gate. He fell before the icon in reverent prayer, and then with it appeared before the abbot. The news of the coming danger greatly worried the brethren. The weak hurried to hide in the mountains and chasms, while twenty-six monks, including the rector and the elder who had announced the heavenly instructions, remained in the monastery, locking themselves up in the tower. The Latins quickly appeared and at first attempted by great oratory to convince the monks to unlock the monastery gates and to recognize the pope as the sinless head of the universal Church. They promised in return all of his beneficence and much gold. From the tower, the monks responded “For us, Christ is the head of the Church. We would rather all die than to allow you by use of force to desecrate the sanctity of this place. Crying out “ Then die!” the enemy stacked brush about the tower, and set it afire. The flames shot high into the air. The monks, praying for their enemies, blessed the Lord, and peacefully gave up their souls to Him. This occured on October 10, 1276.

The names of these brave passion-bearers are recorded in the Zographou synodicon and in the Bulgarian chronicle of the saints. The miraculous icon which had warned the elder of the coming danger was found amid the ash and ruins, unharmed. It is known as "Of the Akathist", because during the Liturgy, the Bulgarians sing before it the Akathist Hymn.

October 12/25 -- "Jerusalem"

According to tradition, this image was painted in Gethsemane by the holy Evangelist Luke in the fifteenth year after the Ascension of the Lord.

In 463, the image was translated to Constantinople. Through the succor of the Jerusalem Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Byzantine forces repulsed the attacks of the Scythians. In 988, the icon was brought to Kherson and gifted to the holy peer of the Apostles, Prince Vladimir. When the Novgorodians accepted Christianity, Saint Vladimir sent them this image. Ivan the Terrible translated this image in 1571 to the Moscow Dormition Cathedral. During Napoleon's invasion in 1812, the original disappeared and was replaced by a faithful copy.

October 13/26 -- Translation into Moscow of the Iveron Icon

February 12/25, Bright Tuesday, October 13/26
November 11/24 ("Montreal" Icon)

Rejoice, Keeper of the Portal most gracious,
who dost open to the faithful the doors of Paradise
(Akathist refrain)

The Tradition

The original Miraculous Icon of the Iveron Mother of God is on Mount Athos, the famous center of Orthodox monasticism (known also as Agion Oros - Greek for the "Holy Mountain"). By tradition, it was painted by the apostle and evangelist Luke.

In the 9th century, this Icon was in the possession of a widow who lived in Nicea. This town in Asia Minor no longer exists, but in its time it was the venue for two Ecumenical Councils; the first, which composed the first eight articles of Nicean Creed, and the seventh, which reinstituted the veneration of icons after a lengthy struggle with the iconoclast heresy, which had erroneously equated the veneration of icons to idol worship.

It was during the reign of the iconoclast Byzantine emperor Theophilus that soldiers came to the house of the widow, where in a small chapel the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God occupied a place of honor. One of the soldiers struck the Icon with his sword, and immediately blood began to flow from the gashed cheek of the Virgin. Shaken by this miracle, the soldier instantly repented, renounced the iconoclast heresy, and entered a monastery. On his advice, the widow concealed the Icon in order to avert its further desecration. After praying for guidance before the Icon, the widow put the Holy Image into the sea. To her immense surprise and joy the Icon did not sink but, remaining upright, drifted away in a westerly direction. Fleeing persecution, the widow's son left Nicea and went to Mt. Athos where he led a saintly life as a monk to the end of his days. There he recounted the story of how his mother had set the Holy Icon upon the waves, and this story was handed down from one generation of monks to another.

Many years later this Icon appeared on the Holy Mountain ("in a pillar of fire" as Athonite tradition recounts) from the sea, close by the Iveron monastery. At that time the holy monk Gabriel was one of the brotherhood in this monastery. The Mother of God appeared to him in a vision and directed him to convey to the abbot and brothers of the monastery that She wished them to have Her Icon as their help and salvation. She told Gabriel to approach the Icon on the waters without fear and take it with his hands. Obedient to the words of the Mother of God, says Athonite tradition, Gabriel "walked upon the waters as though upon dry land," took up the Icon and brought it back to the shore. The icon was then brought into the monastery and placed in the altar. On the next day the Icon disappeared from the sanctuary, and was found on the wall beside the monastery gate. It was returned to the altar, but the next day it was again found by the gate. This recurred several times, until the the Holy Virgin revealed to the monk Gabriel that it was not Her wish for the Icon to be protected by the monks, but that She wished to protect them. After this, a church was built near the monastery gate where the Icon resides to this day. In connection with the name of the monastery the Icon came to be known as the "Iveron" Mother of God, and because of its location, the "Portaitissa," or "Gatekeeper." In addition to many miraculous hearings, the Holy Virgin demonstrated Her protection of the Iveron Monastery during various assaults by Saracen pirates.

News of this wonder-working Icon reached Russia through pilgrims who had visited Mt. Athos. In the 17th century Archimandrite Nikon of Moscow (later to become Patriarch) asked the abbot of the Iveron monastery to send a copy of the Icon to Russia, and this request was fulfilled. The copy of this Icon also began to work miracles and a special chapel was built for it next to the Kremlin walls in Moscow, where it was especially revered by the Russian people until the Revolution of 1917. The chapel was destroyed by the Bolsheviks and the fate of the Icon is not known.

The Contemporary Miracle

In 1982, a Chilean convert to Orthodoxy, Jose Munoz, in the company of two friends, embarked from Canada to the ancient bastion of Orthodox monasticism, Mt. Athos, on a pilgrimage. An art teacher by profession, he is also an iconographer, and therefore wished to visit some of the sketes (small monastic communities dependent upon one of the 20 major monasteries of Athos) and monasteries which specialize in icon painting. One of the friends who had accompanied Jose decided to become a monk and remained on Mt. Athos in one of the smaller sketes; Jose and his other companion directed themselves towards the Danilov skete, where icons are painted in the ancient Byzantine style using the egg tempera technique.

After eight hours of climbing uphill on rough terrain, they were very tired and decided to stop at a skete which they could see on the the Mountainside below. This skete, dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, is very poor and its 14 monks keep a strict monastic rule. The abbot, Fr. Klimentos, greeted them warmly and offered traditional Athonite hospitality. Then he took them to see the skete's icon-painting studio.

As soon as he entered the studio, Jose felt an immediate and indescribable attraction to a copy of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God which hung on one of the walls. As he later explained, his heart felt as though it had 'leaped or turned over. " He asked whether he could buy this Icon, but was told repeatedly that it was one of the first icons which had been painted at this skete ( by one Fr. Chrysostomos in 1981) and was not for sale at any price.

That night at a divine service in the church of the skete, during the singing of the angelic hymn to the Theotokos "It is Meet" (one of the chief prayers of the Orthodox Church to the Mother of God), Jose fell to his knees and begged the Mother of God to make it possible for him to take the Icon back with him into the world, where "we have need of You." Immediately he felt an assurance that somehow his prayer would be answered. The next morning, as Jose and his friend were about to depart, the abbot appeared holding the Icon and said to Jose that it pleased the Mother of God for Her Icon to go with him to North America.

Jose and his companion went down the mountain and took the the boat towards Daphne, a port on the western shore of the peninsula. On the way, Jose heard a strong inner voice which bade him: "Go to the Iveron monastery and touch your Icon to the original wonder-working Iveron Icon." This they did.

Upon arrival at the Iveron monastery they waited three hours before a monk came to open the church which houses the original "Portaitissa." Jose asked that the protective icon case be opened so that his Icon could be placed upon the original Portaitissa in order to be directly blessed by the Mother of God. The monk was suprised, but agreed to Jose's request when it was explained to him that Jose and his companion wished to take the blessing of the Mother of God to the West where Her intercession is much needed.

Returning to his home in Montreal, Canada, Jose placed the Iveron Mother of God in his icon corner, where he also kept relics of the saints from the Kiev Caves monastery and of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth (one of the New Martyrs of Russia).

Jose began to read a daily Akathist (hymns of praise) before his newly-acquired Icon. At about 4 a.m. on Nov. 24, 1982 (three weeks after his return from Mt. Athos), Jose woke up to the smell of a very strong fragrance, as though someone had spilled a bottle of exquisite perfume. He thought at first that the fragrance emanated from the relics but later, when he stood before the Icon to say his morning prayers, he saw that the hands of the Mother of God were streaked with oil. Jose assumed that a friend who was sharing the house had spilled some oil onto the Icon while adjusting the flame of the vigil lamp hanging before it, but the friend denied touching the lamp. When Jose wiped the Icon, he discovered that it was the source of the wonderful fragrance which had by now filled the whole house.

Upon the advice of a local Orthodox clergyman, the Icon was taken to church and placed on the altar. During the entire liturgy, myrrh flowed from the hands of the Christ Child. Since that time, with the exception of several days during Holy Week, when the Icon is absolutely dry, the myrrh has continued to flow almost uninterruptedly. (Holy Myrrh is a sweet, fragrant oil which was used in the Old Testament for the anointing of kings. In contemporary Orthodox church practice, a newly born Christian is anointed with Holy Myrrh during which the words "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit" are said by the priest.)

In the years since, Jose has traveled to many cities and parishes where the Icon has been venerated to the great joy and consolation of the faithful.

Wherever the Icon goes, there are always many questions. Some people initially have doubts. A scientist in Miami was astounded to see that the back of the Icon remained perfectly dry. He later surreptitiously chipped off a small piece of the board on which the Icon is painted for scientific analysis: it was found to be ordinary pine wood, nothing more.

At some times the myrrh flows in greater abundance than at others. During the consecration of a bishop in Montreal there was such an outpouring of the myrrh, that it streamed down from the analogion (lectern on which icons are kept in Orthodox churches) onto the floor. On another occasion, in Florida, the myrrh was seen to rise forth from the hands of the Mother of God and the Christ Child as though it were being pressed from within. Nobody has any power to regulate the flow of the myrrh, it moves to the will of God and His Most Pure Mother.

The Icon is kept in a frame about two inches deep and measures about 12 X 18 inches. At first the myrrh flowed only from the hands of the Mother of God, from the star on Her left shoulder and, occasionally, from the hands of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet in March 1985, during a Lenten service, even the frame and glass of the Icon began to exude myrrh in such quantities, that the cloth of the analogion on which it lay was totally saturated. There is always a layer of cotton wool at the base of the Icon to absorb the myrrh: pieces of this cotton are distributed to the faithful.

Although there have already been several cases of physical healing (not only among Orthodox, but Catholics and Protestants, too), the purpose of the Mother of God seems to be directed more at the healing of souls. Many who have stood before the Icon have testified to this, experiencing not only compunction and repentance, but consolation at the same time.

As mentioned earlier, the flow of myrrh ceases during Holy Week. It ceases on Holy Monday. After the liturgy on the morning of Great Saturday, a light dew of myrrh forms on the Icon, its case and protecting glass. During Matins (the midnight service at which the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord is proclaimed), when the procession of clergy and faithful, holding icons and banners, leaves the church, the Icon begins to exude myrrh in such quantities, that it covers the hands of the person who is carrying it.

This is not the first time that the Orthodox Church has witnessed such a miracle. In the 19th century the Surety-of-Sinners Icon in Moscow exuded myrrh with which the sick were anointed and received healing. Earlier, there was a myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God in the Tolga monastery in Yaroslavl, and there have been others.

What is the meaning of this extraordinary manifestation of God's grace in our time? It has been observed that in the history of the Church such miracles have occurred in times of great tribulation; we saw this in the Apostolic times, and, more recently, in Russia, where the Church has suffered cruel persecution for 70 years. The miracles strengthen the faithful and prepare them to endure trials. The appearance of the myrrh-streaming Icon in our time may well signify a period of further great trials for the Russian Orthodox Church and, at the same time, offer consolation that the Mother of God will be a Protectress of the faithful: Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.

Least Among the Brethren

Jose Munoz formed the desire to become a monk while still a boy in Chile. He became converted to Holy Orthodoxy as a youth and began to lead a monastic life as best he could within the confines of the world, although he did not enter a monastery. Later he moved to Canada and continued to observe this way of life. When the miracle of the myrrh-streaming occurred, Jose vowed that he would never seek worldly gain from the Icon. Therefore any collections taken up during church services at which the Icon is present are sent to the poorest monasteries and sketes on Mt. Athos and/or to help those persecuted for their faith in the Soviet Union and their families. Jose never accepts any money for himself while traveling with the Icon, although he is forced to take much time off from his teaching and icon painting, which are his only sources of gainful employment.

When asked why he thinks he was chosen for such a miracle, Jose replies that, knowing his many weaknesses, he is at a loss to explain this; he feels that perhaps it was because God often reveals himself through the very least of His servants, and that as a convert, he feels himself to be the "least among the brethren." He regards himself not as the owner, but merely the custodian of the Icon, which properly belongs to the entire body of the faithful. From his childhood his mother, who is a devout Roman Catholic, taught him to love the Most Pure Virgin, therefore he always prayed to Her, though never asked Her for any signs or miracles.

Glory be to Our Lord Jesus Christ for manifesting through Jose, the 'least of His servants," the wonder-working Iveron Icon of the Mother of God!

Washington, D.C. 1995

October 15/28 -- "She Who Ripens the Grain"

This icon reflected in its very outline the profound, child­like faith in the Mother of God of the Optina Elder Ambrose, one of the Russian people's great righteous ones of the nineteenth century, who was aflame, as were most Russian ascetics, with extraordinary zeal for the Queen of Heaven.

Elder Ambrose did not let a single feast of the Theotokos pass without performing a vigil in his cell before her icon. In 1890, Abbess Hilaria, the superior of the Bolkhov Convent, sent to the great Elder an icon of a completely new depiction of the Mother of God. The Mistress of the world is depicted seated on clouds. Her hands are raised in a blessing motion. Below is a mown field, and in it, amid flowers and grass, sheaves of rye are lying and standing. The depiction of the Mother of God on this icon was borrowed from the "All Saints" icon found in the Bolkhov Convent, while the area below with the sheaves was depicted according to Elder Ambrose's idea and purpose. He gave to this new icon the significant name, "Enhancer of the Grain Harvest", indicating by this, that the Mother of God is the Helper of people in their labors in getting their daily bread. The Elder himself also prayed before this icon; he also taught his spiritual daughters ­ the nuns of the Kazan­Ambrose women's community ­ to pray before it. This community, which was founded by the Elder at the village of Shamordino, in the province of Kaluga, was where he spent the last year of his life and where he died. In this last year, the Elder, after ordering prints from this icon, gave and sent them out to his many venerators among the laity. For the singing of the Akathist before this icon, the Elder composed a special refrain to the general Akathist to the Theotokos not long before his death.

Here are its words: "Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Grant also unto us, the unworthy, the dew of thy grace, and reveal thy loving­kindness!" And the Akathist with this refrain was read and sung often by the sisters in the cell of the enfeebled Elder. Venerable Ambrose proposed to perform the celebration of the icon, "Enhancer of the Grain Harvest", on the 15th of October, according to the Old Style. On this very day, Venerable Ambrose, who had reposed on 10 October 1892, was lowered into the grave. And as if already from the grave, by the coincidence of this day of his burial with the day of the celebration established by him, he indicated to his spiritual children to whom he had left them.

His confessor asked the Elder: "Here you are dying, Batiushka; to whom do you leave your Convent?"

He answered him with characteristic hope: "I am leaving the Convent to the Queen of Heaven."

And not in vain: Having about 500 sisters at the time of the Elder's death, the Shamordino community, being renamed a convent after that, soon began to number up to 800 sisters.

The first mercy that was poured out from this icon was the fact that, even though the year 1891 in Russia was lean in general, and localities around the Kaluga Diocese were struck by crop failure, grain thrived within the boundaries of Kaluga and in the fields of Shamordino. Rye then went up terribly in price. But the Elder, during his lifetime, had managed to store so much of it, that for that whole year and the next there was no shortage of grain in the Convent with all its numerous sisters.

In the summer of 1892, already after the death of the Elder, an icon of "The Enhancer of the Grain Harvest", painted by the elder's close novice, Ivan Theodorovich Cherepanov, was sent to the young Piatnitsky women's community in the province of Voronezh. There was drought there, and famine threatened.

A Moleben was served before the icon, "The Enhancer". Soon rain fell, and the fields of the convent and its environs recovered.

Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000

Email        webmaster@stjohndc.org



Go to top