MOTHER OF GOD OF CHERNIGOV - GETHSEMANE
April 16 / September 1
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the renowned Chernigov-Ilinsk Icon of the Theotokos which was in the Holy Trinity-St Elias Monastery on Boldyna hill near Chernigov, a monastery in which St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves had spent some time in spiritual struggle. In The Bedewed Fleece, Holy Hierarch Dimitry of Rostov related the miracles which began to flow from the Icon April 16, 1662.
He concluded his account with the words, ďThe end of this book, but not of the miracles of the Most-holy Theotokos, for who can recount their number?Ē This Iconís grace-filled power was also manifested in copies made from it.
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was written on canvas in the 18th century. It was transferred in 1852 to the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra by Alexandra Grigorievna Philippova, who had piously cared for it for a quarter of a century.
The Icon had been given to her as a blessing from Fr. John Alexeev, a priest from the town of Khodkov; he in turn had received the Icon from one of the monks of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Upon the advice of Archimandrite Anthony ( +1 May 1877), administrator of the Lavra, the Icon was placed in the newly erected cave church of St. Michael the Archangel, consecrated on October 27, 1851 by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (+19 November 1867), who also played an active role in the building of the Gethsemane Skete.
The Icon was nourished by the streams of grace flowing through the entire history of the Russian church; it acquired the blessing of Venerable St. Anthony of the Caves, of Venerable St. Sergius of Radonezh, his parents Schemamonk Kirill and Maria (+1337; a Requiem Liturgy with a special prayer is celebrated for them on September 28th and on Thursday of the Week of the Publican and the Pharisee), and finally, of the strugglers of the 19th century. These spiritual ties were providentially revealed through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.
It is noteworthy that the first miracle from this Icon was witnessed on the Liturgical New Year, September 1, 1869, when Thecla Adrianova, a 28 year-old peasant of Tula Province, was healed of the total paralysis which had afflicted her for 9 years. Thecla lived first in a hostel attached to the Caves, and then in the Lavra itself, until September 25th, the day marking the repose of St. Sergius; then she was completely healed. Holy Hierarch Innocent Metropolitan of Moscow (1797-1879, commemorated September 23 and March 31), learned of the miracle from his daughter the nun Polixenia, treasurer of the St. Boris Hermitage. On the Feast of Venerable St. Sergius, he met Thecla and questioned her about all of the details of her healing. On September 26, 1869, St. Innocent visited the Gethemane Skete, gave his blessing to the offering of prayers before the glorified Icon, and there himself offered tearful prayers.
Before September 26th, there were three other miraculous healings; many others followed in November of the same year. Word of the Icon of the Mother of God spread with extraordinary speed. People of all different classes, people tortured with suffering and diseases, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, and strong in faith, came to the Miraculous Icon. Godís mercy did not abandon them. By the beginning of the 20th century, more than 100 miracles had been documented. At first, the Iconís Feastday was set as April 16th, the date on which the Chernigov-Ilinsk Icon was commemorated. However, it was later transferred to September 1st, the day of its glorification. Currently, there are miraculous copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon, written by elders of the Gethsemane Skete and the Zosima Hermitage, in the Holy-Trinity -St. Sergius Lavra; in the church of St. Sergius, in the monastery refectory; and in the narthex of the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
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