Icon of the Mother of God of Kozelshchansk
Commemorated on February 21
The Kozelshchansk Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the late nineteenth century, though it is older than that. This icon is of Italian origin and was brought to Russia by one of Empress Elizabeth’s maids of honor. The owner of the icon married a records clerk of the Zaporozhsky-Cossack army, and the icon traveled to the Ukraine with them.
During the nineteenth century, the icon belonged to the family of Count Vladimir Kapnist in the village of Kozelchina, and was one of their sacred possessions. During Cheesefare Week in 1880, Maria, the daughter of Count 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 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. Great Lent passed, but Maria did not feel any relief.
After Pascha, Maria’s other foot became twisted. Both her shoulders and then her left hip became dislocated, and she developed pain in her spine. The doctor recommended that Count Kapnist take his daughter to the Caucasus for the curative mineral waters and mountain air. The journey and the treatments caused even greater afflictions. Maria lost all feeling in her hands and feet, and did not even feel it when she was pinched.
Because of the advanced degree of the illness, and since therapy was not helping, she and her family returned to their home.
In October, the father journeyed with his sick daughter to Moscow. He consulted specialists, who declared that they could do nothing for Maria. The parents and their daughter began to despair.
However, an unexpected opportunity for help from a foreign professor presented itself. Since it would be some time before he arrived in Moscow, Maria asked to return home. The Count sent her back to the village, and his wife promised to bring their daughter back to Moscow when she 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, 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 throughout Moscow and people began to throng to the hotel where the family was lodged, and then to the church, where they had brought the icon.
The icon continued to work several more miracles. 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 were there to venerate the icon. It was no longer possible to keep the icon at the house, 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. Upon a 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 in Kiev. 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.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)