February 1, 2018

The Weeping Icon of the Mother of God of Socola (1854)

Socola Icon of the Mother of God (Feast Day - February 1)

This icon of the Mother of God was in a church in the Orthodox Theological Seminary at the Romanian Socola Monastery in Iasi. In February 1854, it gained renown for the remarkable miracle of shedding tears.

Following the Divine Liturgy served on February 1 in the seminary church, a frightened member of the clerical staff ran up to Hieromonk Isaiah, the ecclesiarch, and said that the icon of the Mother of God was weeping. Several of those serving immediately ran to the church. There they all clearly witnessed, still wet, tears running down from the eyes of the Mother of God.

Bishop Philaret Skriban, the seminary rector, also witnessed this miracle. He removed the icon of the Mother of God from its frame, carefully examined it, used a towel to wipe off the tracks of the tears, and put the icon back in its place. Then, after directing everyone to leave the church, he looked around throughout the church, and then locked it up.

Several hours later, the seminary professors and instructors accompanied their rector into the church for Vespers, and all were amazed to see the same miraculous flowing of tears from the eyes of the Theotokos depicted on the Icon. The seminary rector immediately served a Moleben and Akathist to the Mother of God.

Soon, all of Romania learned of this miraculous event, and people from all parts of the country began to arrive at the Socola Monastery to venerate the newly revealed miraculous Icon of the Theotokos. The marvelous flowing of tears sometimes happened every day, and sometimes two, three, or four days apart. As a result, many people were able to see at first hand the actual miracle of weeping, and could personally bear witness to it. Those who did not see the actual miracle could bear witness to it by seeing the tracks of the dried tears on the surface of the icon.

Yet, there were those who doubted...

The Weeping Icon of the Mother of God appeared during the Crimean War. Because of that war, the Principality of Moldavia was occupied by Austrian troops. Their commanding officer, General Paar, sent a staff officer to the Sokolsky Monastery with instructions to carefully investigate the reported miracle and to give a report of his results.

The colonel obeyed the orders. In the Monastery, he made a thorough examination of the Weeping Icon of the Mother of God. At the time, it was not weeping. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he put the Icon back into its frame. Then he took a lighted candle, and with the help of the candle made a careful examination of the face of the Mother of God. Suddenly two little diamond-bright tears shone in the eyes of the Mother of God, and tears began to flow. The officer recoiled in terror, and exclaimed, "It's weeping? That is a great miracle! Fathers, pray unto God!"

The colonel reported what had transpired to his commanding officer. His report on the miraculous flowing of tears from the icon is of unquestionable importance, for he had come to Socola Monastery without any faith in the possibility of such a miracle, but left with faith, convinced that it was indisputable fact.

This was not the only evidence that a true miracle had taken place. There were many other eyewitness accounts, including accounts by individuals whose sincerity there would be no reason to question.

After the rapid recovery of a close relative, the boyar Nicolae Roznovanu ordered in 1855 for the Icon to be covered in silver, which was meant to protect the holy icon.

Reports of the weeping Socola Icon also spread to Russia, and some people believe that the weeping icon mentioned in Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Book 5, Ch. 13) could have been based on the Socola Icon. In 1889, when the seminary closed down, the Socola Icon was moved to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Iasi, where it remains to this day, and hundreds still flock to it in order to venerate it.

The account provided by Bishop Melchizedek of Roman merits particular attention. He was one of the first to be an eyewitness to this miracle, and at the time was a professor at the seminary in the Socola Monastery. Reminiscing 35 years later about seeing tears pour from the eyes of the Mother of God, this elder said that for a long time he pondered the question: Who do these tears of the Mother of God signify? He came to the conclusion that such weeping icons had existed also in ancient times and that such an event always foretold a severe trial for the Church of Christ and for the nation. History justified this conclusion in the case of the Romanian weeping icon. During the Crimean war the Principality of Moldavia was occupied by Austrian troops and subjected to severe trials. The Socola Monastery in particular had a sad future: this formerly great religious center of Romania, serving for a hundred years as a seedbed of spiritual culture, was suppressed, the seminary moved elsewhere and the monks dispersed.