July 17, 2019

Synaxis of the Icon of the Mother of God of Sviatogorsk

The Sviatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God is from the Sviatogorsky Monastery in the province of Pskov. In the year 1563, during the time of Ivan the Terrible, in the environs of Pskov, a Tenderness Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to a fifteen-year-old shepherd and fool named Timothy, not far from the stream Lugovitsa. This icon was thereafter situated in the Voronicha parish church of Saint George. The voice from the icon said that after six years the grace of God would shine forth upon this hill.

In 1569 to this same youth upon the Sinicha hill, there appeared an Hodegetria icon of the Mother of God on a pine tree. Timothy spent forty days at this place in fasting and prayer. The miraculous voice from the icon commanded that the clergy and the people should come to the Sinicha heights with the Tenderness icon on the Friday following the Sunday of All Saints.

When the church procession reached the hill and began the Molieben, a light suddenly shone during the reading of the Gospel. The air was filled with a fragrance and everyone saw upon the pine tree the Hodegetria icon. Both holy icons, the Hodegetria and the Tenderness, were put into the Church of the Great Martyr George. From them many miraculous signs and healings took place, about which reports were made to Tsar Ivan IV. Through his decree, upon the Sinicha Hill, called from that time the “Svyata” (“Holy”), a chapel was built, into which were transferred the wonderworking icons. But soon, on the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, when a church procession with icons went to Holy Hill, the chapel suddenly burned that night. The fire destroyed everything else inside, but the holy things remained unharmed.

On this sacred spot they built a stone church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the altar of which stood on the place where the Hodegetria icon had appeared. Both glorified icons were placed into the lower tier of the iconostas: the Hodegetria on the right side (a chapel in honor of which was built in 1770), and the Tenderness on the left (a chapel was built in 1776).

In that same year of 1569 on Holy Hill was founded the Sviatogorsk (“Holy Hill”) Dormition monastery.

Every year, on the first Friday of the Peter and Paul Fast, the icons are conveyed to the Trinity Cathedral of the city of Pskov. On the following Sunday, a procession was made with them along the inner walls of the city.

The celebration in honor of the Tenderness icon is March 19, and on the ninth Friday after Pascha. The Hodegetria icon is commemorated on July 17, and on the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (October 1).