The “Unexpected Joy” icon reflects a room wherein an icon of the Mother of God is located. Beneath it is a youth kneeling at prayer. The tradition about the healing of a young man from a bodily affliction through this holy icon is recorded in the book of St. Demetrius of Rostov, The Fleece of Prayer (See Judges 6: 36-40).
The sinful youth, who was nevertheless devoted to the Theotokos, was praying one day before the icon of the All-Pure Virgin before going out to commit a sin. Suddenly, he saw that wounds appeared on the Lord’s hands, feet, and side, and blood flowed from them. In horror he exclaimed, “O Lady, who has done this?” The Mother of God replied, “You and other sinners, because of your sins, crucify My Son anew.” Only then did he realize how great was the depth of his sinfulness. For a long time he prayed with tears to the All-Pure Mother of God and the Savior for mercy. Finally, he received the unexpected joy of the forgiveness of his sins.
The “Unexpected Joy” icon is also commemorated on January 25.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )