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Icon of Our Lady With Coins

Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" (With Coins)

Joy of All Who Sorrow

Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow".  V.V. Vasilyev, 1891

The variety of icons of the Mother of God is amazing. Although some experts consider the total number to reach about seven hundred versions, no one knows for sure how many there really are. As the teaching says about the life of the Holy Virgin, “the icons of the Mother of God are like stars in the sky: only the Queen of Heaven herself knows their number.” Sometimes copies of glorified icons appear that also become miraculous. When people praying before them are healed of serious illnesses, these new icons also become glorified. So it happened with the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon (with coins) in St Petersburg.

Let us start with some history of the iconography of the Joy of All Who Sorrow. This image appeared in Russia in the 17th century under the influence of Western European works. It should be noted here that Russian icon painters managed to rework Catholic prototypes in a very creative way. The name was derived from the beginning of the Theotokos stichera: “The joy of them that grieve and the intercessor of the oppressed...”

The first written mention of an icon bearing this name appeared in 1683. Its author was the court painter Ivan Bezmin. Five years later, a woman named Euphymia Petrovna Papina, sister of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Joachim (Savelov) was healed of a serious illness after praying before the image of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow'' located in the Transfiguration Church in Ordynka (Moscow). The miraculous healing took place on November 6, after which a celebration was established on that day in honor of the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon. The church where the miracle happened soon became famous in the capital. The love for the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon began to spread across Russia.

Icons of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" made by the sisters of St. Elisabeth Convent

Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" made by the sisters of St. Elisabeth Convent

There are several disparate accounts of how the Icon came to be in the Tikhvin Chapel in St Petersburg. According to one of them, a certain Ladoga merchant Symeon Ivanovich Matveev donated the Icon (previously kept for a long time as a family heirloom) to the Chapel after barely escaping death in a storm on the Neva River. Today the former village of Klochki where the chapel was located is a historical part of the Nevsky district in St. Petersburg.

On July 23, 1888, thunderstorms developed in St. Petersburg and its surrounding area. A powerful lightning bolt struck the Chapel at the glass factory, setting fire to its interior walls, burning the icons, and utterly shattering the collection box, but not touching the Icon of the Mother of God. The thunderclap knocked the Icon to the floor. At the same moment, the image of the Mother of God, which time and smoke had severely darkened, seemed to lighten and become renewed. Moreover, somehow, twelve copper coins from the collection box affixed themselves to various spots on the Icon with no apparent reason—as evidence of a miracle of God.

Chapel of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, St. Petersburg, 1898.

Chapel of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, St. Petersburg, 1898.

Rumors of an unusual incident spread around the district, quickly attracting pilgrims to the chapel. Miraculous healings began. Two of them were officially documented and confirmed. Two years after finding the icon, in 1890, a young man named Nikolai Gratchev, suffering from epilepsy, saw in a dream the Most Holy Theotokos and St Nicholas the Wonderworker commanding him to go secretly to the chapel "where the coins had fallen" in order to be be healed. On October 6, 1890, everyone praying in the chapel was eyewitnesses to Nikolai's miraculous healing.

The second miracle was the recovery of a young woman, Vera Belonogina. Today, tuberculosis is considered a curable disease, but at the end of the 19th century, tuberculosis patients were doomed to a painful death. This fate was also expecting Vera, a beautiful young woman and beloved wife of a clerk working at the Thornton cloth factory. At first, the woman simply lost her voice. The doctors thought that she was suffering from pharyngitis, but the treatment was not helping. Eventually, it became clear that Vera was struck by Laryngeal tuberculosis, a terrible disease at that time. The doctors shrugged their shoulders, and Vera relied on God with all her might. Once, in a dream, the woman heard a voice telling her to go to the chapel. Soon after seeing that dream, she returned home after a prayer service in front of the miraculous icon and told her husband in a loud voice that she was feeling healthy.

Eventually, a new iconographic type of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” image appeared where the coins began to be depicted. The commemoration of the icon was established on August 5, the day of its miraculous transformation. Along both sides of the icon, framing the Mother of God, are angels and suppliants—the poor, the sick, the hungry and other people asking for Her intercession. The Icon depicts the Most-immaculate Virgin at full-length, vested in a red-blue robe, with a white veil covering Her head. In the clouds above her, the Savior sits enthroned, holding the Holy Gospels in His left hand, and blessing with His right.

After that remarkable accident, a church in honor of the miraculous icon was built on the site of the burnt chapel. The charred former chapel remained inside the large stone Russian style chapel, "encasing" it. The new chapel, accommodating up to 800 people, was considered the largest in Russia at that time.

Tragically, less than 20 years later, the Revolution began, and the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church was demolished. The believers were able to hide the miraculous icon from the communists and secretly preserve it. During the Great Patriotic War, the holy image was made accessible to the people. It was installed for worship in the Holy Trinity Church. During the years of the terrible blockade, during inhuman suffering, the inhabitants of Leningrad were in desperate need of consolation and strengthening of the Mother of God. Many of them later testified to receiving help from Her after praying before the icon.

Holy Trinity "Easter Cake" Church in St. Petersburg

Holy Trinity "Easter Cake" Church in St. Petersburg

Easter Cake and Cottage Cheese Desert

Easter Cake and Cottage Cheese Desert

Today, the image is kept in the same church of the Holy Life-Giving Trinity on Obukhovskoy Оborony Ave. If you go on a pilgrimage to St. Petersburg, you can venerate this relic. It is impossible to miss this church, nicknamed "the Easter cake" for its unusual appearance.

We bring to your attention icons of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" made by the sisters of our Convent. Although made in various techniques, both simple and elaborate, they are all united by the love and prayer with which they were created.

August 05, 2023
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