The Appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh:
Commemorated on August 24
The Appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh: One time, in the deep of night, the Monk Sergei (1314-1392) was reading an a akathist to the Mother of God. Having finished his habitual rule, he sat down to rest a bit, but suddenly he said to his cell-mate, the Monk Mikhei (+ 6 May 1385): "Take courage, child, we shall have a wondrous visit". Scarcely had he uttered these words when a voice was heard: "the All-Pure Virgin doth approach!" The Monk Sergei rushed from the cell to the entrance, and suddenly it was illumined by a bright light, brighter than that of the sun. He beheld nearby in imperishable glory the Mother of God, accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John. Unable to bear the miraculous radiance, the Monk Sergei reverently prostrated himself before the Mother of God, and She said to him: "Fear not, My chosen one! I am come to visit thee. Sorrow thee no more about thy students and thy place. Thy prayer is heard. Henceforth all thine habitation shalt prosper, not only in thy lifetime, but also after thy departure to God shall it persist for thy monastery, granting abundantly its petitions and preserving it in all needs". Having said this, the Mother of God became invisible. For a long time the Monk Sergei was in an inexpressible rapture, and having come to himself, he raised up the Monk Mikhei. "Tell me, father, – asked the cell‑mate, –what is the meaning for this miraculous vision? From terror my soul nearly departed the body!" But the Monk Sergei was silent; only his luminous face spoke of the spiritual joy which he experienced. "Wait a bit, – he said finally to his disciple, – until my soul doth calm down from this wondrous vision". After a certain while the Monk Sergei summoned two of his disciples, the Monks Isaac and Simon, and communicated to them the common joy and hope. All of them together celebrated a molieben prayer to the Mother of God. The Monk Sergei spent the remaining part of the night without sleep, calling to mind the Divine vision. The appearance of the Mother of God at the cell of the Monk Sergei, at the present place of the Serapionov chamber, was on one of the Fridays of the Nativity fast in the year 1385. The commemoration of the visit of the Mother of God to the Troitsky (Trinity) monastery and of Her promise was reverently kept by the disciples of the Monk Sergei. On 5 July 1422 was the uncovering of his holy relics, and soon after on the grave of the Monk Sergei was placed an icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God. The icon was honoured with great reverence. In the year 1446 GreatPrince Vasilii Vasil'evich (1425-1462) was besieged at the Troitsky monastery by the armies of princes Dimitrii Shemyaka and Ioann of Mozhaisk. He barricaded himself into the Trinity cathedral, and when he heard that he was sought, he took the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God and with it met prince Ioann at the southern church doors, saying: "Brother, we kissed the LifeCreating Cross and this icon in this church of the LifeBeginning Trinity at this grave of the Wonderworker Sergei, that we would neither intend nor wish any evil to any of our brethren amongst ourselves; and here now I know not, what will happen with me".
The Trinity monk Amvrosii (mid-XV Century) reproduced the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God to the Monk Sergei, carved in wood.
Tsar Ivan the Terrible took along the icon of the Appearance of the Mother of God on his Kazan campaign (1552). The most famous icon, inscribed in the year 1588, was by the steward of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, Evstaphii Golovkin (1571-1581; 1583‑1593) on a board from the wooden reliquary of the Monk Sergei, which was taken apart in the year 1585 in connection with the placing of the relics of the Monk Sergei in a silver reliquary (14 August). Through this icon the Mother of God repeatedly protected the Russian army. Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich (1645-1676) took it on the Polish campaign in 1657. In the year 1703 the icon took part in all the military campaigns against the Swedish king Charles XII, and in 1812 Metropolitan Platon sent it to the Moscow military levy. The icon took part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and during the time of World War I it was at the quarters of the supreme commander-in-chief in 1914.
Over the grave of the monk Mikhei was built a church and named through its consecration on 10 December 1734 in honour of the Appearance of the MostHoly Mother of God together with the holy Apostles to the Monastic Father Sergei of Radonezh. On 27 September 1841 the church was restored and consecrated by the Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret, who said: "By the grace of the All-Holy and All-Sacred Spirit is now accomplished the restoration of this temple, fashioned before us in honour and memory of the Appearance of our Lady the MostHoly Mother of God to the Monk our God-bearing father Sergei, to which also by his account the Monk Mikhei was an eye-witness, in sweet reverence here honoured". Rightly was the commemoration of this grace-bearing event honoured by the consecration of a church, although however, all this monastery is a memorial of that miraculous visit. Wherefore its purpose in the continuing centuries was the fulfilling of the promise of the heavenly Visitor: "This place shalt persist". In memory of the visit of the Mother of God at Trinity cathedral of the Trinity-Sergiev monastery is read on Fridays an akathist to the MostHoly Mother of God, and a special service in honour of the appearance of the mother of God is done at the monastery on 24 august, on the second day of the leave-taking of the feast of Uspenie (Dormition) of the MostHoly Mother of God.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.