The Zhirovitsk Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on May 7

      The Zhirovitsk Icon of the Mother of God manifest itself in the year 1470 in the vicinity of Zhirovitsa on the Grodnensk frontier. In the forest, belonging to the Orthodox Lithuanian dignitary Alexander Solton, shepherds beheld an extraordinarily bright light, peering through the branches of a pear tree, standing over a brook at the foot of an hill. The shepherds approached closer and beheld on the tree a not-large icon of the Mother of God shining radiantly. The shepherds with reverence took hold the icon and conveyed it to Alexander Solton. Alexander Solton did not pay any special attention to the report of the shepherds, but he nonetheless took the icon and shut it away in a chest. On the following day Solton had guests, and he wanted to show them what had been found. To his amazement, he did not find the icon in the chest, although shortly before this he had seen it. After a certain while the shepherds again found the icon in the same place and again they brought it to Alexander Solton. This time however he received the icon with great reverence and gave a vow to build at the place of its discovery a church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God. Around the wooden church soon gathered a settlement and a parish was formed. In about the year 1520 the church was completely burned, despite the efforts of the inhabitants to extinguish the blaze and save the icon. Everyone thought, that the icon had perished. But one time peasant children, returning from school, beheld a miraculous vision: the Virgin extraordinarily beautiful in resplendid radiance sat upon a stone at the burned church, and in Her hands was the icon, which everyone reckoned had been burnt. The children did not dare approach Her, but they hastened to tell about the vision to their kinsfolk and acquaintances. Everyone accepted the story about the vision as a Divine revelation and together with the priest they set off to the hill. On a stone with a burning candle stood the Zhirovitsk Icon of the Mother of God, totally unharmed by the fire. For awhile they placed the icon in the house of the priest, and the stone was fenced in. When they built a stone church, they placed the wonderworking icon there. A men's monastery later grew up around the church. Its brethren headed the struggle for Orthodoxy against the Unia and Latinism. In 1609 the monastery was seized by the Uniates and remained in their hands until the year 1839. During this time the Zhirovitsk Icon of the Mother of God was venerated by both Uniates and Catholics. In 1839 the monastery was returned to the Orthodox and became the first locale of the restoration of Orthodox Divine-services on the West-Russian frontier. During the time of the First World War, they conveyed the Zhirovitsk Icon of the Mother of God to Moscow, and at the beginning of the decade of the 1920's it was returned to the monastery. At present it is located in the cathedral in honour of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God of the Zhirovitsk monastery, Minsk diocese, and it is deeply reverenced for its graced help. The icon was carved in stone having the dimensions of 43x56 cm.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Zhirovitsk
Icon of the Mother of God

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