On February 18th (the 5th by the old calendar) the Church commemorates the icon of the Mother of God “Seeker-out of the Lost.” The name of this icon, given to it by the Russian people, expresses a deep and grateful awareness of the Holy Virgin as the last resort, the last hope of those who are spiritually lost. As we have already seen, even at the Last Judgment the Mother of God has been granted the power to intercede for sinners up to the very end.
In Russia, icons of the Mother of God “Seeker-out of the Lost” already appeared many years ago, and one of them became well-known. In the mid-18th century, in the village of Bor in the Kaluga region, there stood a very poor wooden church. One of the parishioners, the peasant Feodot Obukhov, did his best to help this poor church out by donating icons and church vessels. During one intensely-cold winter, Obukhov was caught in a terrible ice storm on his way to a neighboring village and lost his way; his exhausted horse could go no more and stopped at the edge of a precipice. It was impossible to drive further, while the cold continued to intensify. Finding himself in such an absolutely hopeless predicament, the unfortunate Obukhov prayed to the Mother of God with all his heart, and vowed to order a copy of Her icon “Seeker-out of the Lost” and donate it to his church. Then he unharnessed his horse, tied it to his sledge, covered himself and lay down in the sledge, and slowly began to freeze. A few more minutes and he would have been gone. But his faith was not shamed by the One Whom he had entreated so earnestly. Something totally inexplicable occurred: the sledge with the unharnessed horse, which had stood at the edge of a precipice, suddenly found itself at the gate of a peasant’s hut in the neighboring village! Sitting inside his hut, the peasant heard a voice outside the window, saying: “Take him in.” Coming out to the gate, he saw the unharnessed horse and Feodot Obukhov in the sledge. Obukhov was carried into the house, thawed out, and returned to life.
When Obukhov got well, in accordance with his vow he ordered an icon of the Mother of God “Seeker-out of the Lost” and brought it to his church. This icon, painted in honor of the miraculous salvation of a man from death, became itself renowned for its miracles. Each year a multitude of people gathered from all over Russia to venerate the icon, and the pennies which the pilgrims donated were used to eventually build a wonderful stone church in place of the poor wooden one.
The Bor icon “Seeker-out of the Lost” worked a great miracle in 1871. This was the year of a cholera epidemic, and the inhabitants of the city of Serpukhov wished to have the icon brought over. There was a young boy in the city who was mute and without the use of his legs. Upon seeing the icon, he suddenly said: “Here is the Seeker-out of the Lost” and immediately stood up on his legs. After the arrival of the icon in Serpukhov, the cholera epidemic ended. Afterwards in other places, too, icons of the Mother of God “Seeker-out of the Lost” brought deliverance from cholera.