“We are at the entrance to the church in honour of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. The foundation stone of this church was laid in 2000, and in 2008 the church was consecrated by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II” This is how the tour of our convent begins. To be honest, it is not only the sightseers who cannot wait to get inside the church, but also me, their guide. Praying here is the most emotionally rich part of the tour.
We are entering the dark space of the church, illuminated only by a few lit vigil lamps. The group is waiting. Gradually we turn on the lighting ... The children are in mute delight, the woman who previously listened with a straight face begins to weep, and the man, who was asking me very difficult questions a few minutes ago, seems perplexed ... There is not a single indifferent face. It is a shame that I cannot take a picture. For some time, the group is getting warm “in the arms of the Mother of God.” I have heard people describing their impressions of standing before the Oranta mosaic in our church more than once. I am admiring the beauty of the surrounding faces and rejoicing, “God has won again! Beauty really will save the world!” Returning on earth, the guests begin to ask questions, “Who created this and how? What saints are there on the icons?" Of course, we will be happy to tell you everything, but let us begin with the story of the acquisition of the Reigning icon of the Mother of God.
From the life of the Venerable Martyr Athanasius of Brest, we learn that he especially revered the Mother of God. One of his works, titled A letter of Petition, is addressed to the Most Pure Lady. In this book the venerable talks about the numerous oppressions of the Orthodox and asks the Theotokos for Her intercession. The Mother of God responded to the prayers of the saint. She appeared to him many times, instructing, strengthening and guiding him during his travels and his ministry in defence of the Orthodox faith. We find numerous confirmations to this in the diary of the future martyr:
“Then, when I was already on my way, having said goodbye to the brethren, I entered the porch of the church and, surrendering in everything to the mercy of God, I made a few bows. I looked out of the window at the miraculous image of the Most Pure Theotokos, and suddenly a terrible noise began in the church. I was frightened by this and wanted to run without looking back, but I dared to look out of the window again, saying, "O Most Pure Mother of God, do not leave me." At that time I heard an imperative voice coming from the miraculous image of the Most Pure Theotokosю It said, 'I am going with you...'”
“One woman said, 'Indeed, the Mother of God travels with them. How else could they have passed right in front of the guard's face?'"
“As if in admiration, I heard the same voice saying, 'Athanasius. Go to Tsar Mikhail and tell him that the time has already come for him to crush our enemies. Tell him that he should have on his banners the Kupyatichi Icon in the Cross, as a sign of mercy. In that battle he should spare every person who calls himself Orthodox'"
“By the will of God, by the guidance of the Most Pure Theotokos and the good angel (as I wholeheartedly believe) in the person of Nehemiah, the deacon of Kupyatichi, I arrived at Your Royal Majesty”
In March of 1638, Hieromonk Athanasius (Filippovich) and his assistant Deacon Nehemiah arrived in Moscow. Lacking documents and authority to apply for an appointment with Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, Saint Athanasius wrote an article, titled The History of a Journey to Moscow. Using original poetic devices, the future martyr described the position of the Orthodox in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and asked the tsar for protection.
According to one of the versions, along with a copy of the cross-shaped Kupyatichi Icon and the Feodorovskaya "Eleusa," the ascetic presented Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich (the first among the Romanov dynasty) with an icon now known as the Reigning. He also predicted the fate of Nicholas II, the last emperor from the Romanov dynasty and his family.
In Brest, the homeland of St Athanasius a copy of this holy icon was preserved, which was also famous for myrrh-streaming and miracles ...
Kolomenskoe Early March 2014. Driving up to the entrance of the museum-reserve turned out to be a difficult task, as well as finding an excursion bureau on a vast territory. The pilgrims were not very comfortable waiting in the rain for the beginning of the excursion, which was being delayed. However, our patience was rewarded with the appearance of a “boyar” from the time of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, who came out to meet us. Yes, yes, that same Tsar Alexei, son of Mikhail Fedorovich, to whom the future Martyr Athanasius of Brest once gave the image of the Mother of God ...
We are listening to a fascinating story about the "eighth wonder of the world" - the wooden palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich with magnificent Food courts and bakeries, where food was prepared for the tsar. And finally there are the churches. Church of the Ascension, St George's, Kazanskaya ... How can one imagine under what circumstances the icon of the Mother of God ended up in Kolomenskoe? Did the Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich give it to his heir? Or perhaps the image was kept in the Moscow Ascension Monastery until 1812 when it travelled (along with other icons) to the church with the same name in Kolomenskoe?
Church in Honour of the Сazan Icon of the Mother of God Many ancient icons, a special spirit and smell... We are instantly carried from the 17th century to 1917, the time when the icon was acquired and received its name of the Reigning icon.
Our patronal feast is like a small Easter during Great Lent. In the middle of the largest church in the Convent rests the decorated image of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God.
“Chosen from all mankind as Protector of the Christian race, you shelter our land with the veil of your blessings; we offer hymns of thanksgiving to you, O Sovereign Lady, in honour of the appearance of your revered Reigning Icon to us. As the most merciful Protector of all those who come to you with faith, deliver us from all our troubles that we may cry out to you: “Rejoice, O Reigning Mother of God, Protector of the fervent Christian race.” As I hear the Convent choir singing this troparion, it seems to me that the veneration of the ancient icon, travelling with St Athanasius in the distant 17th century is returning to our land. At the same time, our veneration here, in Minsk, shows the kind of hope in the help and intercession of the Mother of God that is similar to the hope that of the Kolomenskoe believers a hundred years ago, during the second acquisition of the image.
Remembrance Day: March 15 (March 2 old style)
The Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, one of the Twelve Great Feasts, at the end of September. On this very day in Nazareth was born the one destined to be both the Ladder and the Door to the Kingdom…
Of the many saints commemorated in the Orthodox Church throughout the liturgical year, two are very unusual ones - Saints Peter and Fevronia. In Belarussian Orthodox Church, we celebrate their feast day on July 8th.
The Mother of God prays for us, showing us the power of the prayer to change us from within, transform our lives and make a positive difference to the world.
Holy Righteous Sophia, Princess of Slutsk, came from an ancient family of Olelkovichs, who reigned in the city of Slutsk since 1395. During their reign, Slutsk was built and fortified.
Each of our monastery’s workshops has prepared its own wonderful gift this Christmas Season. Our artists have been painting on glass and ceramics, embroidering serviettes, carving small wooden Nativity scenes, making toys and painting Christmas…
The courage of the Holy Royal Martyrs, their mercy, steadfast faith and readiness to entrust their fate to the Lord softened the hearts of many and showed the way of the Lord to the generations to come.
As August comes to an end, the Orthodox Church prepares to celebrate one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church, the Dormition of the Theotokos. Here in the Belarusian Orthodox Church, the feast falls on August 28 each year.