The Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on February 5

      The Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God received the first part of its title from its original dwelling place when glorified the Uspensk Divnogorsk monastery, in the former Ostrogozhsk district in Voronezh governance. Its title of "Sicilian" is from its place of origin, since by tradition this icon at Diva (i.e. "Wondrous Heights") was brought from Sicily by the pious monastic elders Xenophont and Joasaph. They suggest, that these saints were by birth Orthodox Greeks by descent, and that they had arrived hither, actually no earlier than the end of the XV Century. Xenophont and Joasaph founded a monastery at a scenic spot above the River Don, nigh to the confluence into it of the River Tikha Sosna [i.e. Quiet-Pine River]. The Wild-Wondrous Heights of the locale were called such by those struck by the form of the chalk columns, dispersed throughout the hills.
      It has been suggested, that Xenophont and Joasaph made their habitation in a cave (where later was made the church of Saint John the Forerunner), and that the first church in a chalk column was carved out by them, into which also they put the Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God which they had brought with them. Herein moreover they found their eternal repose.
      On the Divnogorsk-Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God, the Mother of God is depicted sitting in the clouds. In Her right hand is a white lily blossom, and with Her left arm She supports the Divine Infant, Who sits upright upon Her knees. The Saviour in His left hand holds a lily blossom, and with His right hand He blesses. Around the face of the Mother of God are depicted eight angels, of which the two beneathe are depicted on bended knee and with upraised hands in prayer. Over the head of the Mother of God is the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. The especial glorification of the icon began with the year 1831, when cholera was raging. At Korotoyak, located 7-8 versts from the monastery, there appeared in sleep to a certain elderly woman, Ekaterina Kolomenska, the Most-Blessed Virgin (in the form She is depicted in the Divnogorsk Icon), and She commanded that Her icon be brought and a molieben be made before it. The wonderworking icon was brought to Korotoyak, and after a fervent general molieben before the holy icon, the cholera ceased. By the intercession of the Mother of God the city of Ostrogozhsk also was saved from cholera. The people of Korotoyak and Ostrogozhsk likewise in 1847 and 1848 were saved from cholera through the miraculous intercession of the Mother of God, which occurred after a church procession with the holy icon around these towns.
      According to tradition, the feastday of the wonderworking icon on 5 February was established already at its original habitation by Xenophont and Joasaph.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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