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Pochayev icon of the Mother of God

August 5th (July 23rd by the old calendar) marks the feast of the Pochayev icon of the Mother of God.

The history of this miraculous icon is inseparably tied with the Pochayev Monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos, which is located in the southwest of Russia. The monastery was founded back in the 13th century and flourished in the late 16th / early 17th centuries.

The miraculous image of the Holy Theotokos called the Pochayev icon was received as a gift from the Greek metropolitan Neophyte, who stopped at the home of a certain Goyskaya, mistress of a large estate, on his way to Moscow in 1559. For 30 years the icon stood in the landowners chapel before it was noticed that an extraordinary light was issuing from the image. After Goyskayas brother, Philip Kozinskiy, who was born blind, was miraculously healed by the icon, the pious landowner gave the sacred relic to the monks of the Pochayev monastery. The icon was then carried over to Pochayev in a ceremonious procession.

The small icon depicts the Mother of God with the Pre-eternal Infant on Her right arm. In Her left hand She holds a towel with which the Infant Jesus was covered. The Lord has His left hand placed on His Mothers shoulder, while His right hand is raised in blessing; the Mother of Gods face is inclined towards Her Sons head. There are seven miniature images of saints depicted on the sides of the icon: the prophet Elias, martyr Menas, protomartyr Stephen, venerable Abrahamus, great-martyr Catherine, martyr Paraskeva, and martyr Irene. The Book of Records of Pochayev Miracles reports a multitude of healings after prayer to the Most-holy Theotokos, sent through Her Pochayev icon.

Pochayev Mother of God
Pochayev Mother of God

For four centuries the Heavenly Queen also granted Her all-powerful aid to the Pochayev monastery. Thus, in the summer of 1675 the Turkish troops of khan Nurredin besieged the Pochayev Lavra on three sides. The weak monastery wall did not represent a serious barrier. The monks and the laymen who had sought sanctuary in the monastery fearfully awaited the beginning of the attack. The abbot of the monastery summoned all the Orthodox faithful to appeal for help to their heavenly intercessors the Holy Virgin and St. Job of Pochayev. Throughout the entire night the besieged people earnestly prayed before the miraculous icon and the tomb with the relics of the saint. In the morning of July 23rd, when the sun came up, they started to sing an akathist to the Mother of God. At the words Champion Leader a wondrous miracle occurred. The Holy Theotokos Herself appeared over the monastery church, together with a multitude of angels holding unsheathed swords. St. Job stood next to the Mother of God and entreated Her to defend his monastery. Seeing the celestial troops, the Turks took them for a phantom and began shooting arrows at the Queen of Heaven and the angels. But the arrows came back to them and struck the infidels. Then the Turkish army became greatly agitated, the soldiers started killing each other, and afterwards began fleeing in panic. The defenders of the monastery were able to capture many of them. Some of the Turks were subsequently baptized and remained in the Pochayev Lavra for good. Later an annual celebration in honor of the Pochayev icon of the Theotokos was established to commemorate the miraculous deliverance on July 23rd by our Intercessor and Helper in all sorrows.

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