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December 20, 2018

Icon of the Mother of God the “Rescuer of the Drowning”

Synaxis of the Icon of the Mother of God the “Rescuer of the Drowning” (Feast Day - December 20)

In the village of Lenkov on the bank of the Desno River near Novgorod, Russia, there was a dangerous whirlpool, which made the river difficult to cross. Often, the powerful swirling waters would cause the demise of ships and their passengers. It was at that dangerous site that an Icon of the Mother of God was discovered, resting on the riverbank. In time, a church dedicated to the Mother of God was erected on the site, and the Icon of the Mother of God, the "Rescuer of the Drowning," was enshrined therein. Those who journeyed along the Desno River customarily stopped at Lenkov to offer prayers in the icon's presence, imploring the Mother of God to grant them a safe journey despite the dangerous whirlpool. It had been said that after the icon had been discovered, mishaps to sailors were rare, and later completely ceased.

Lenkov and its church were destroyed during an invasion by the Poles in the 17th century. A new church dedicated to the Archangel Michael soon rose on the site of the former Church of the Mother of God, and the icon was enshrined therein. Many miracles were ascribed to the Mother of God, and the icon came to be revered not only in area of Lenkov, but far beyond, especially in Russia's larger port cities.

In the 18th century, the Icon was transferred to the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Novgorod, where it remained until the Russian Revolution in 1917. History does not record what happened to the miraculous icon during Soviet times. However, in 2003, a pious man named Sergei Babushkin gave to the Church an identical antique copy of the long-lost original "Rescuer of the Drowning" Icon, which was subsequently enshrined in the Transfiguration Monastery, thus marking the beginning of its revival.

The icon is remarkably similar to the much older Korsun Icon of the Mother of God, which was said to have been a copy of an icon by Saint Luke the Evangelist that had been kept in Ephesus until it was brought to Kyiv in 988 AD.