Icon of the Mother of God of Sviatogorsk
Commemorated on July 17
The Sviatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God is from the Sviatogorsky Monastery in the province of Pskov, Russia. In 1563, during the reign of Tsar Ivan IV (“the Terrible”), a “Tenderness” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to a fifteen-year-old shepherd and fool named Timothy, not far from Lugovitsa Stream. This icon was placed in the Church of St. George in Voronicha. The voice from the icon said that after six years the grace of God would shine forth upon the hill.
In 1569, a Hodigitria Icon of the Mother of God appeared to Timothy on the Sinicha Hill. He spent forty days there in fasting and prayer. The miraculous voice from the icon commanded that the clergy and the people bring the Tenderness Icon to Sinicha Heights on the Friday following the Sunday of All Saints.
When the church procession reached the hill and began the Molieben, a light suddenly shone during the reading of the Gospel. The air was filled with fragrance and everyone saw the Hodigitria icon. Both holy icons – the Hodgitria and the Tenderness – were placed in the Church of St. George. From them many miraculous signs and healings took place, about which reports were made to Tsar Ivan. At his direction, a chapel was built on Sinicha Hill, into which were transferred the wonderworking icons.
However, on the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, during a procession with the icons, the chapel suddenly burned to the ground. The fire destroyed everything inside except the holy things, which remained unharmed.
On this sacred spot, a stone church was built in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the altar of which stood on the place where the Hodigitria icon appeared. Both glorified icons were placed into the lower tier of the iconostas – the Hodigitria on the right side (a chapel in honor of which was built in 1770), and the Tenderness on the left (a chapel was built in 1776).
In 1569, the Sviatogorsk (“Holy Hill”) Dormition Monastery was founded.
Every year, on the first Friday of the Peter and Paul Fast, the icons are conveyed to the Trinity Cathedral in Pskov. On the following Sunday, a procession is made with them along the inner walls of the city.
The celebration in honor of the Tenderness icon is March 19, and on the ninth Friday after Pascha. The Hodigitria icon is commemorated on July 17, and on the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos on October 1.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)