Translation of the “Blachernae” Icon of the Mother of God to Russia
The Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God was discovered at Jerusalem in the fourth century by Empress Eudokia during the time of St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and St. Euthymius the Great. The holy icon was sent to Constantinople, where Empress Pulcheria placed it in the Blacernae Church, where the Venerable Robe of the Mother of God was also preserved.
This holy icon is also called the Hodigitria, or “She who leads the way.” It was with this icon that Patriarch Sergius made the rounds of the walls of Constantinople in 626 with Moliebens during the siege of the capital by the Avars. In memory of this and other victories, which were won thanks to the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, an annual celebration was established on Saturday of the Fifth Week of the Great Fast to offer Praises to the Most Holy Theotokos (Saturday of the Akathist). At first the celebration took place only at the Blachernae Church in Constantinople. However, in the ninth century, the Feast was included in the Typikon of St. Sava the Sanctified, and in the Studite Rule. Later, it was included in the Lenten Triodion and made universal for all the Orthodox faithful.
After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Blachernae Icon was transferred to Mt. Athos. In 1654, it was sent to Moscow by the Athonite monks as a gift to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich.
The Blachernae Icon is celebrated on July 2, and in the Fifth Week of Great Lent (Saturday of the Akathist).
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)