September 17, 2019

Synaxis of the Makariev Icon of the Mother of God

Synaxis of the Makariev Icon of the Mother of God
(Feast Day - September 17)

The Makariev Icon of the Mother of God, painted in the style of the Odegetria, appeared during the reign of Prince Basil the Dark (1425-1462) to Saint Macarius the Wonderworker, who labored in asceticism on the desolate shores of the River Unzha.

On September 17, 1442 at about the third hour of the morning, when Saint Macarius was finishing his usual morning Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos, his cell was illumined suddenly by an unknown light. The monk became confused in spirit and fervently began to pray.

Beyond the cell walls he heard the angelic refrain: Rejoice, Full of Grace, O Virgin Mother!” With fear and astonishment the monk went out from his cell and on the northwest horizon he saw the icon of the Mother of God, surrounded by a luminous radiance.

The icon approached towards the cell of the ascetic. With joyful trembling the monk fell to the ground and cried out: “Rejoice, Mother of God! Rejoice, Ever-Flowing Fountain issuing salvation to all the world and assuring protection and intercession to all the land of Galicia!”

He reverently took up the icon and placed it in his cell, thus it also came to be named the “Cell-Icon" (Keleina). Afterwards, the disciples of the monk gave it the title of “Makariev.” On the place of the appearance of the holy icon, and near a spring Saint Macarius dug up, a monastery was founded, and was also named Makariev. Copies of the Makariev Icon of the Mother of God were made, which became as renowned as the original.

In the manuscripts of the monastery, legends were kept about the many miracles that came from the miraculous icon of the Mother of God.

Twice by prayer in front of the icon, local residents were saved from the invasion of the Crimean Tatars. In 1522, the Tatars attacked Unzha and wanted to rob and devastate the Makariev Monastery, but they were blinded and, having gone mad, fled. Many of them drowned in the Unzhe River. In 1532, the city of Soligalich was saved from the enemy by the prayers of Saint Macarius. The Tatars, for no apparent reason, fled in panic, and the prisoners said they saw a gray-haired old man in black robes throwing arrows and stones at them, and then appearing among them on a white horse they were overcome by such fear that the Tatars began in terror to kill each other.

Grateful locals arranged a chapel in the katholikon of the monastery in honor of the Saint. More than fifty people, through the prayers of Saint Macarius, received healing from serious illnesses, as was established by the commission sent by the Patriarch of Moscow Philaret on June 24, 1619. In the same year the veneration of Saint Macarius became popular, veneration of the holy icon also became popular.

During the fires of 1629 and 1690, which caused significant damage to the monastery, the icon did not suffer damage. At the beginning of the 18th century, a covering was made for the icon. To this end, on August 24, 1717, Emperor Peter I issued a decree that allowed the monastery to collect donations that were not taxed, and in this decree the icon was officially called "wonderworking" for the first time.

Despite the fact that the icon was considered miraculous, in the same 18th century, Abbot Mitrophan II, who did not know his history, ordered the icon to be transferred from the monastery katholikon to the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin and a different icon of the Mother of God was painted on top of the Makariev icon. In 1858, Archimandrite Plato restored the original icon, which was accidentally discovered during the restoration. When the icon began to be cleaned of the upper decrepit layer of paints, under it the miraculous face of the Mother of God with the inscription "Makariev Icon" turned out to be unharmed.

When in 1929 the Makariev-Unzhensky Monastery was closed by the Bolsheviks, the miraculous image was lost. Now a copy of the Makariev icon is kept in the Church of the Nativity in the city of Makariev. In 1993 the monastery began to revive again, and the relics of Saint Macarius were returned.