The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared on August 8, 1314 to Rostov Hierarch Prochorus. Going about his diocese, the saint visited the area around White Lake and traveled along the banks of the Sheksna and Volga Rivers, to Yaroslavl. He and his companions stopped at dusk, seven miles from Yaroslavl, at the right bank of the Volga River where it flows into the River Tolga.
At midnight, when everyone was asleep, the saint awoke and saw a bright light illuminating the area. The light came from a fiery column on the other bank of the river, to which there stretched a bridge. Taking up his staff, the saint went across to the other bank, and having approached the fiery column, he saw an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, suspended in the air. Astonished at this miracle, St. Prochorus prayed for a long time, and when he went back to his camp, he forgot to take his staff.
The next day, after serving Matins, St. Prochorus began to search for his staff, but was not able to find it. The saint then remembered that he had forgotten his staff on the other side of the river, where he had walked across the miraculous bridge. He then revealed to his companions what had occurred, and sent servants across on a boat to the other shore. They came back and reported that they had seen an icon of the Mother of God suspended in the branches of a tree, next to his bishop's staff.
The saint quickly crossed over with all his retinue to the opposite shore, and he recognized the icon that had appeared to him. After fervent prayer before the icon, they cleared the forest, and built the foundations of a church. When the people of Yaroslavl learned of this miracle, they came out to the indicated spot. By midday the church was already built, and in the evening the saint consecrated it in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. Having installed the icon there he established a Feast on the day of its appearance.
St. Prochorus later built the Tolga Monastery near this church. He fell asleep in the Lord on September 7, 1328.
The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on July 18.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )