Icon of the Mother of God "Elets-Chernigov"


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Commemorated on February 5

The Elets-Chernigov (Chernigov Spruce Tree) Icon of the Mother of God appeared on a spruce or fir tree near Chernigov in the year 1060, in the time of Prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich, as was recorded in the Synodikon of Bishop Zosimus 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. While living an ascetical life on the Boldino Heights, St. Anthony gave 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 1470, Prince Simeon Olelkovich of Kiev restored the monastery, and the icon was placed 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 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. While in Kharkov, he fell seriously ill, and before his death 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 seventeenth century by the forces of Sigismund III. In 1676, Prince Constantine Ostrozhsky presented the Elets Monastery with a copy of the Elets Icon of the Mother of God, brought from Vladimir by the Kozel brothers. At the same time, Archimandrite Joannicius (Golyatovsky) was restoring the monastery and had described numerous miracles of this icon in his book, “Skorbnitsa” (“Consoler” or “Treasury”), published in 1676 in Novgorod.

There is still another Elets Icon of the Mother of God, also appearing in 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 feast day of this icon was set for January 11.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)