Friday, August 5, 2011

Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God

Joyous feast! С праздником! On this day we commemorate one of the best known icons of Rus', the Pochaev Icon from Volhynia's Pochaev Lavra of the Dormition. The Lavra was founded as a monastery in 1340 by two monks and has been associated closely with the Mother of God since its founding as she appeared to the monks and a herdsman on a nearby hilltop, leaving behind an imprint of her foot on one of the hilltop's rocks.

In 1559 a traveling Constantinopolitan Orthodox metropolitan visiting Volhynia gave a local noblewoman an icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople as a memento of his stay in the region. With time a radiance began to be noticed coming from the icon, and in 1597 the noblewoman's brother was healed by the icon, after which it was given in thanksgiving to the Pochaev Monastery, which enshrined it in the Church of the Dormition.

This icon, the Pochaev Icon, has resided at the Pochaev Lavra for 414 years and has been glorified by many miracles. In 1675 the Icon delivered Pochaev from invading Tatars, who saw the Mother of God together with angels brandishing swords and St. Job of Pochaev over the Church of the Dormition as they prepared for their final assault on the Lavra. As a result the Tatars fled, while others who were captured embraced Orthodoxy and even the monastic life.

In 1721 the Pochaev Monastery was occupied by the Ukrainian Catholic Church, but the Pochaev Icon remained and continued to be glorified by miracles. When Pochaev returned to Orthodoxy in 1832 the Icon was further glorified by the healing of a blind woman who venerated it. The Icon remains a treasured relic of the Pochaev Lavra alongside the imprint of the Mother of God's footprint and is kept in the Lavra's Cathedral of the Dormition to this day.

More on the Pochaev Icon can be found here and here. May the Mother of God's protection and intercession be with us all!

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