The Kievo-Pechersk Icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God

Commemorated on August 15, May 3

      The Kievo-Pechersk Icon of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God is one of the most anciently appeared icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. The MostHoly Mother of God entrusted it to 4 Byzantine architects, who in 1073 brought the icon to the Monks Antonii and Theodosii of Pechersk. The architects arrived at the cave of the monks and asked: "Where do ye want to begin the church?" The saints answered: "Go, the Lord will point out the place". "How is it that ye, anticipating impending death, have still not designated the place? wondered the architects And still they have given us so much gold". Then the monks called together all the brethren and they began to question the Greeks, saying: "Tell us the truth, who sent you and how did ye wind up hereabouts?". The architects started by saying: "One time, when each of us was asleep in our own homes, early at sunrise, handsome youths came to us and said: "The Queen doth summon you to Blakhernae". We all arrived at the same time and, in questioning one another we learned, that each of us had heard this command of the Queen and that those sent out had come to all of us. Finally, we beheld the Queen of Heaven with a multitude of warriors. We bowed down to Her, and She said: "I want to build Myself a Church in Rus', at Kiev, and herewith I do bid ye to do this. Take sufficient gold for 3 years". We however, having bowed ourselves down, asked: "Lady Queen! Thou dost send us to a foreign land, to whom there art we to go?" She answered: "I send you to these here, to Antonii and Theodosii". We wondered: "Why then, Lady, dost Thou give us gold for 3 years? With it bid also what concerns us, what we shalt eat and what we shalt drink, and provide us also with what Thou knowest about it". The Queen replied: "This one, Antonii, wilt give only but the blessing and expire from this world into eternal repose. And the other one, Theodosii, wilt follow him after 2 years. Wherefore, take gold abundantly sufficing. And moreover, to esteem you, know that no one is able to do this such as I shall. I shalt give ye, what neither ear hath heard, nor what eye hath seen nor what in heart hath been in ascent for man. I Myself shalt come to look upon the Church and I shalt dwell within it". She likewise gave us relics of the Holy Martyrs: Artemios, Polyeuktos, Leontios, Akakios, Aretha, James, Theodore, and said: "This place ye within the foundation". We took gold more than enough, and She said: "Come out the doorway, and behold the resplendid Church". We went out and beheld a Church in the air. Having come in again to the Queen, we bowed down and said: "Lady Queen, what wilt be the name of the Church?" She answered: "I wish to call it by Mine Own Name". We did not dare to ask, what Her Name was, but She Herself again said: "It wilt be the Church of the Mother of God". And, having given us this icon, She said: "This wilt be put within it". We bowed down to Her and went to our own homes, taking with us the icon, received from the hands of the Queen".
      Having heard this account, all glorified God, and the Monk Antonii said: "My children, we never ventured out of this place. Those handsome youths summoning you were holy angels, and the Queen in Blakhernae was the MostHoly Mother of God Herself. And what regards our image and the gold given as through us, that the Lord only knoweth, how He deigned to do this with His servants. Blest be your arrival, ye have good accompaniment, the venerable icon of the Lady". For three days the Monk Antonii prayed, that the Lord Himself would show him the place for the church. After the first night there was a dew throughout all the land, but dry on the holy spot. On the second morning throughout all the land it was dry, but on the holy spot it was with dew. And on the third morning, having prayed, they blessed the place and measured out with a golden sash the width and length of the church. (This sash had long before been brought by the Varangian Shimon, who had a vision about the building of a church). A firebolt, falling from heaven through the prayer of the Monk Antonii, indicated that what was designated was pleasing to God. Thus was placed the foundation of the Divine Church.
      The icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous miracles. Two friends, John and Sergei, sealed their friendship before it. After many years John fell mortally ill. He gave part of his wealth to the Pechersk monastery, and the portion for his 5 year old son he gave over for safekeeping to Sergei; he gave over to him also his son Zakharii under his guardianship. When Zakharii turned age 15, he wanted to receive the inheritance belonging to him, but Sergei persisted in saying, that John had distributed off everything to the poor. He persisted to such an extent, that he went into the Uspensk church and vowed before the wonderworking icon, that he had taken nothing. When he made attempt to kiss the icon, he was not able to come near it; he went to the doors and suddenly shouted out: "Holy Antonii and Theodosii! Let me not be struck down for this dishonesty, pray ye the MostHoly Mother of God, that She drive away from me this multitude of demons, to which I am given over. Let the gold and silver be taken away: it is sealed away in my granary". Zakharii gave off all his inheritance to the Pechersk monastery, where he also himself took monastic vows. And from that time no one would take oaths at the wonderworking icon.
      The icon more than once defended the land from invasion of enemies. In 1677, when the Turks laid siege to Chigirin and danger threatened Kiev, they carried the icon around the city for almost the entire course of the day of 27 August. The Mother of God blessed Russian armies going to the Battle of Poltava (1709). In 1812 they again carried the icon around Kiev. The celebration of the icon is set twice within the year: 3 May and 15 August.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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