October 24, 2017

Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "The Joy of All Who Sorrow" of Moscow

Mother of God "Joy of All who Sorrow" (Feast Day - October 24)

The Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” is a Theotokos image without a single compositional pattern which is encountered in many versions. Many icons of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” are miraculous. The icons of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” appeared not later than the 1680's. Russian chronicles say that in 1683 the royal artist I.A. Bezmin painted an icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow”, but say nothing of the icon composition. A similar icon was also housed in the Saint Alexis Monastery in Arzamas and, according to a 1686 inventory, featured the Mother of God with two angels.

The icon became widespread after an icon of Joy of All Who Sorrow from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street in Moscow miraculously healed in 1688 a sister of the Patriarch Joachim, the widow Euphemia Petrovna Papina, from a wound in her side and illness. The doctors failed in their treatments, so she prayed with tears to the Most Holy Theotokos. Then, she heard a voice: "Euphemia, go to the Church of the Transfiguration of my Son; there you will find the icon, 'Joy of All Who Sorrow.' Have the priest serve a moleben and sanctification of the waters before this icon and you will be healed." Euphemia did so, and was immediately made well. This occurred on October 24, 1688.

The Icon of Princess Natalia brought from Moscow to St. Petersburg

This icon probably dated to 1685, when the Church of the Transfiguration of Ordynka was built. The original icon is believed to be lost, and no one knows exactly what it looked like. However, an 1862 lithograph reproduced the icon of “Joy of All Who Sorrow” that the Princess Natalia Alexeevna, sister of Peter the Great, took with her when the court was moving from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1711. According to some accounts, this is the very icon that miraculously healed Euphemia Papina, while other sources maintain that this is an exact copy of the miraculous icon. The Savior is shown blessing with the right hand and holding beads in his left. The Mother of God is also portrayed holding beads with her right hand. Her hand is turned left and inclined slightly downwards. The Mother of God stands on the Moon, with her head surmounted by the crown. Above the Mother of God is the Lord Sabaoth with the half-figures of saints on the margins. It is probably based on the Roman Catholic image of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Another icon, painted by Alexis Kvashnin in 1710, is also a precise replica of the icon from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka street (now kept in the Andrei Rublev Museum collections). This icon, just as the icon taken by the Princess Natalia Alexeevna, features a full-length image of the Mother of God with the Child Christ on her left hand against the background of the shining glory in the crown. Her head is also turned left and slightly downwards. On this particular icon, however, the Theotokos is portrayed without beads, Her right hand is shown in a blessing gesture pointed to the Child Christ. The Mother of God is shown standing on the clouds. In the upper part of the icon is an image of the Synthronos (the New Testament Trinity), in the bottom field is a cartouche with the kondak inscribed thereupon. However, what distinguishes the Kvashnin replica from the lithography is three groups of sufferers standing to either side of the Mother of God, above whom are four full-figures of saints: Sergius of Radonezh, Theodor Sykeon, Gregory the Decapolite and Barlaam of Khutyn. Above the saints were the images of two saints with ripidises, two more angels are comforting the sufferers.

The Icon of Alexis Kvashnin

N.I. Komashko suggests that the original miraculous icon had the same composition as the one taken by Princess Natalia Alexeevna to St. Petersburg. Alexis Kvashnin is believed to have copied another icon that had been painted for the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street soon after the miraculous healing of Euphemia Papina. The original composition was changed by adding more sufferers and removing beads as a Roman Catholic attribute. The images of sufferers in Russian art have been known since the 17th century from the icons of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring which became widespread under Patriarch Nikon.

Under Soviet power, the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street was closed and turned into a storage facility of the State Tretyakov Gallery. According to some reports, the icon that was stored there disappeared without a trace. The icon that is now stored in Ordynka, according to one version, is the contribution of Patriarch Alexy I who gave it to the church when services were resumed in it in 1948. This is an exact copy from the original icon, created, apparently, in the second half of the 18th century. According to another version, this is the icon that was there before the closing of the church.

Therefore on this day, October 24th, was established the commemoration of this miraculous icon, which, in contrast to other icons of the Theotokos, is depicted in a special manner. The Most Holy Mother of God is shown in full height with a crown on her head and with the Pre-eternal Infant sitting on Her left arm. At the top of the icon, above the Theotokos’ head, the Lord is seen giving His blessing, angels and saints are on the sides, and at the bottom we see sorrowing and suffering people, to whom the Mother of God kindly stretches out Her hand.

To the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Joy of All Who Sorrow"

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

O Most Holy Mother of God, "Joy of All Who Sorrow",
Grant thy mercy to us sinners.
Thy Son now sits on the throne of the Eternal Kingdom,
And all our troubles thou seest; thou knowest them as they occur.
Thou hast always prayed to Christ God for the faithful,
And hast relieved much pain and misery of the sorrowful.
O Holy Virgin, never cease, to the end of time,
To pray for the salvation of our race.
God hast made thee even more glorious than the Seraphim:
O hasten to us, O Joy of all who sorrow!

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Let us, sinful and humbled, now earnestly run to the Mother of God, and let us fall down in repentance, crying from the depths of our soul: O Lady, help, have compassion on us. Make haste, for we perish from the multitude of our sins. Turn not thy servants empty away, for we have thee as our only hope.

Another Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Thou art the joy of all that sorrow, and the protectoress of the oppressed, feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, haven for the tempest-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and aid of the infirm, staff of old age, O all-pure Mother of the Most High God. Hasten, we pray, to save thy servants.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Second Tone
We have no other help, we have no other hope, apart from thee, O Lady, help us. We hope in thee and in thee we glory. Let us not be confounded for we are thy servants.