The "Tikhvin" Icon of the Mother of God
26 June/9 July

Troparion in tone 4
Today, like the eternal sun, Your Icon appears in the sky, O Theotokos.
With rays of mercy it enlightens the world.
This land accepts the heavenly gift from above, Honoring You as the Mother of God.
We praise Christ our Lord who was born of You.
Pray to Him, O Queen and sovereign virgin, that all Christian cities and lands be guarded in safety,
And that He save those who kneel to His divine, and Your holy image, O unwedded bride.

According to tradition, this wonderworking image belongs to those three "basic" images, which are, as it were, contemporaries of the Mother of God herself.

In the fifth century, this icon was transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where the Blachernae church was built for it. In the year 1383, seventy years before the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, the icon disappeared, and in a brightly beaming light it appeared over Lake Ladoga within the boundaries of Novgorod the Great.

The fourteenth-­fifteenth centuries are the critical epoch of Russian consciousness. While not rejecting the principles of Greek Orthodoxy and in no way exalting itself, Russian Orthodoxy is formed.

At this time, two enormous events occur, which shake the trust of Russian people in the Greeks: the Florentine Unia with the Catholics and the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. The idea of Moscow, as the third Rome, is born; stories arise about the flight of holy objects from the disgraced centers of ancient Greek piety. The appearance in Russia of a great Byzantine holy object, the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, which received its appel­lation from the place chosen by Her for its appearance in Russia, also dates to this period.

A most interesting story, very characteristic of that time, concerning the miraculous voyage of Saint Anthony the Roman on a rock from Rome to Novgorod the Great, who brought with him various relics of saints of the ancient Church, dates to that same time.

"In I. S. Ostroukhov's collection of icons", we read in Prince Trubetskoi, "is a depiction of this miraculous voyage… Over the holy refugee from Rome, who is sailing along the Volkov, the golden domes of Novgorodian Russian churches gleam: in them is the goal of his wandering and the sole worthy place of abode for the holy objects entrusted to him by God" (Prince E. N. Trubetskoi, "Speculations in Colors",page 124).

In 1613-­1614, the Swedish army, having captured Novgorod, more than once attempted to annihilate the monastery in which the Tikhvin Icon was located; but through the succor of the Mother of God, the monastery was saved. Thus, once, in sight of the approaching Swedish army, the monks decided to flee from the monastery, taking the wonderworking icon with them; but they could not move it from the spot. This miracle stopped the faint­hearted, and they remained in the monastery, trusting in the defense of the Mother of God. The defenders of the monastery, who were insignificant in number, successfully repulsed the attacks of the adversary's forces, which far surpassed their own. A numerous host of Russians coming from Moscow, a kind of heavenly army, arose before the attacking Swedes, and they turned to flight. After the miraculous victory over the Swedes, royal emissaries arrived at the monastery. Having made a copy of the wonderworking icon, they set out for the village of Stolbovo, at fifty versts [thirty­three miles] from Tikhvin, where peace was concluded with the Swedes on the 10th of February 1617.

The main surety of the peace on the Russian side was the copy of the wonderworking icon that had been brought. Subsequently, this copy was brought to Moscow and placed in the Dormition Cathedral, and then, at the request of the Novgorodians, the participants in the war with the Swedes, it was sent to Novgorod and placed in the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom.

At the present time, the holy image of the Tikhvin Mother of God is located in Chicago, after it was brought to the USA from Riga. The holy image arrived in Riga during the German occupation. Till then, the image was located for a long time in a secret place, where it was hidden from the Bolsheviks.

It is impossible not to pay attention to the fact that this image departed beyond the borders of Russia with the second emigration, just as the Kursk­Root Icon did with the first emigration.

In the iconographic sense, it is a Hodigitria. The Tikhvin Icon differs from the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God in the slightly inclined position of the Mother of God toward the Infant, Who is depicted on the left side of the image. The hand of the Mother of God is raised toward her breast as a sign of silent worship of her Son.

(Basic information from the book by Prot. Alexander Kiselev, "Wonderworking Icons of the Mother of God in Russian History", New York, 1976.)

Kontakion in tone 8
O people, let us come to the Virgin Queen and Mother, giving thanks to Christ God.
Let us fall before her miraculous image, and let us cry:
O sovereign Mary, your glorious image now inhabits this land.
Save all the Christians of this world, showing us the heavenly life.
To You we faithfully cry: Rejoice, O Virgin, the salvation of the world!

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