August 12, 2015

The Miracle of the Bleeding Icon of the Mother of God in Torginskoye in 1922

In 1922, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia, and the red partisans (Communist insurgents) defeated the whites (Tsarist rebels) and imposed a new order, the customs and traditions of the people began to be eliminated.

In the Cossack village of Torginskoye, near Nerchinsk, they shut down the parish church and nailed boards to its doors.

This was a renowned church throughout the Trans-Baikal in the region of Zabaykalsky, due to its miraculous icon of the Mother of God, which was honored not only by the Cossacks, but also foreigners.

This church celebrated its feast on July 8th. Crowds of believers flocked from throughout the region. After the Supplications, all would go outside the church and process the sacred icon through the surrounding villages. This litany no longer took place, having been eliminated by this new power.

That year a terrible drought had fallen on Zabaykalsky. The earth split due to the heat, and springs, rivers and wells had dried up. Leaves from the trees yellowed and withered as if a fire had passed through. The crops in the plains had also dried up.

July 8th was approaching, when the Mother of God "Torginskoye" celebrated, and the folk assembly of Torginskoye, the white bearded Cossacks, listened sullenly to Stepan Kamenschikov, the former red partisan and now secretary of the village, say:

"Well comrades, you believe we have a drought because the authorities have forbidden the procession of the icon of the Mother of God; because it has forbidden the seedy priests from making the people dizzy, and because it nailed boards to the church."

"Exactly!" said everyone in agreement.

"Stepan!" yelled out an old guardian of the church in Torginskoye. "This year we want to process the icon of the Mother of God over our fields. Nothing bad will happen. Ask permission, therefore, from those responsible."

"Fine comrades. Since you insist so much, I will act according to your desire. However do not expect rain. In this way you will understand that God does not exist."

The request was made by the secretary, and a positive response was given by the members of the GPU (State Political Directorate). The joyous news, that they would celebrate again like the good old days and process the miraculous icon over the fields for rain to come, spread like lightning.

The next morning a crowd of people gathered at the church and the surrounding area. They all came in their festive outfits, while the bell ringers set the celebratory tone for the day. Tension came from the presence of agents from the GPU with their caps and ironic style.

Soon the white bearded Cossacks exited the church holding the heavy canopy with the icon of the Mother of God. This was followed by the priests with their brocaded vestments.

The people knelt. Everyone's eyes became teary. The large icon with its precious gems and the radiant eyes of the Mother of God passed in front of the faithful.

At some point those radiant eyes met the stern gaze of Kamenschikov and they shook him. He felt as if they were looking at him in the depths of his soul. But he acted indifferent. He fixed his cap and began to smoke.

The Supplication had begun, and Fr. John uttered slowly and clearly the petitions: "Give water to the thirsty earth, O Savior!"

How much the people longed for nature to give them beneficial gentle rain! The unbearable heat had reached a point of madness in that hour. The priests sprinkled with holy water the yellowed wheat and parched earth.

By the evening they processed the icon of the Mother of God through all the fields and made incessant supplications, while the crowd followed tirelessly over hills, roads and slopes.

Kamenschikov rode on his horse, smiling ironically. Eventually he threw his cigarette and muttered angrily:

"I will show you who is your Christ and Mother of God."

Now the procession reached the village houses of Torginskoye. Right in the middle was the home of Kamenschikov. At the door his elderly mother was waiting reverently.

"Old woman!" he yelled at her, "do not dare to put this gypsy in our yard."

"What words are these, Stepan? Have you gone mad?" she protested.

In the meantime clouds presented themselves in the sky, which continued to grow. The priest stood for the usual prayer. Then Stepan, bright red, ran to him shouting:

"Enough comedy! Comrades, gather around this old trunk! Now I will show you there is no God or Mother of God."

Saying this, he grabbed Fr. John by the beard and shoved him violently. The white bearded levite fell to the earth, while the gold cross he held fell from his hand. Kamenschikov kicked the cross with his boot and then pulled out his sword and struck the icon with all his might.

The people were shocked. A moment later people began to scream:

"Blood! Blood! Miracle! Miracle!"

Stepan looked around enraged. "Why are they yelling?" he said to himself.

"Stepan!" shouted his furious mother. "That is a deadly sin! Look at our Lady!"

He looked at the icon and froze. From the right cheek of the Mother of God ran drops of blood. It ran down and covered its silver covering.

Suddenly, as if in a foreign voice, Kamenschikov himself shouted: "Tears! Tears!"

From the large eyes of the Mother of God ran large, clear tears like diamonds. And immediately after there began to fall from the sky blessed rain.

It rained continuously for three days. The rain fell relentlessly on the thirsty ground, and the earth greedily sucked the life-giving water. As the fourth day dawned a bright sun appeared in the sky. Its shine showed the people the miracle of life and renewal.

The Mother of God "Torginskoye" worked its miracle. The members of the GPU, humiliated, again sealed the church and eventually stole the sacred icon bringing it to a distant city.

However, the biggest miracle took place with Kamenschikov, the atheist Bolshevik. With her blood and tears the Mother of God watered his unfaithful and thirsty soul, and she did not tarry to bring forth the fruits of faith and repentance.

Eight years later, Stepan was a Christian and on the run from the authorities. He went back to his home, where a trap had been laid for him. He wanted to see his mother one more time. When his mother saw him at the door of her home she shouted "ambush!" and was shot for trying to warn her son of the trap. Soldiers were hidden inside the house waiting for him. He managed to flee and escape to China, arriving in Harbin in the summer of 1932, hoping to return to Russia to serve the Church.

Note: The Torginskoye icon was a copy of the Albazinsk icon of the Mother of God, otherwise known as the Mother of God of the Sign, where she is depicted with St. Nicholas of Myra and St. Mary of Egypt. Historically, it was known to help bring rain in times of drought in the surrounding area after a procession was conducted, with recorded instances in the late 19th century. It remained in the closed church in Torginskoye until 1929, when the director of the museum of Nerchinsk, Pulyaevsky, saved it from a pile of discarded church property, and at the request of the faithful brought it to the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Nerchinsk, where it remained until this church was closed in 1930. This is when the icon was taken to a "distant city" and its location remains unknown until today. Unfortunately, a photo was never taken of this icon either. A search to trace this icon was conducted by the director of the museum of Nerchinsk - Alexander Litvinsev.