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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Synaxis of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos

Synaxis of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God
(Feast Day - October 1)

The Feast of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in memory of the miraculous deliverance of Pskov from the invading troops of the Polish king Stephen Bathory in 1581. During the siege, they carried forth the wonderworking Dormition Icon of the Mother of God in procession from the monastery.

On August 26th of that year, the city of Pskov was surrounded by the hordes of the Polish king. The Bishop of Pskov shortly before this sent an embassy to the abbot of Pechersk Monastery, Tikhon, asking him to come to Pskov with the miraculous icons of the Dormition of the Theotokos. The Pskovites placed all hope in the intercessions of the Heavenly Lady, and the pious aspirations of the Bishop were justified.

The next day, on August 27th, the pious blind Elder Dorotheus the Blacksmith had a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos at the spot where the enemy had prepared to attack, at a corner of the fortress of the monastery in honor of the Protection (Pechersk) of the Most Holy Theotokos. The Most Holy Virgin appeared to the Elder Dorotheus with various Russian Saints: the holy Great Prince Vladimir and the Pskov Princes Vsevolod-Gabriel and Dovmont-Timothy, Saint Anthony of Kiev Caves, Cornelius of Pskov, Euphrosynus of Spaso-Elazar and Sava of Krypetsk, Blessed Nicholas of Pskov and Saint Niphon the Archbishop of Novgorod, the organizer of the Pskov Spaso-Mirozh Monastery.

She told Elder Dorotheus the reason for the seige against Pskov by the Polish king: "Oh, the people are lawless! You have angered my Son, the Lord and God, and defiled this city with evil deeds. And now a cloud and great misfortune has come upon you because you did not know my Son and me." To this Dorotheus replied with great sorrow: "O Virgin Lady! There is indeed sin in the people and lawlessness. But do not be angry with them and pray to your Son and our God for this city and for the people who have sinned."

Proceeding from the Pechor side from the Spaso-Mirozhsk Monastery across the River Velika, the Mother of God with the Saints entered the church of the Protection Monastery. The Saints besought the All-Pure Virgin to have pity on the sinful citizens of Pskov and save the city “from the imposition of woes.” The Most Holy Theotokos, having promised the city her mercy, gave orders to set up the Pechersk icon at the place of her appearance and she indicated where to shoot off cannons against the besiegers.

In the days leading up to the battle, the citizens of Pskov repented of their wickedness and processed with the icon of the Mother of God along the walls of the city, seeking her intercessions and protection. During the battle the Polish tried to breach the fortress wall, but through the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints, they were not able to break through into the city. After their deliverance from the enemy, the grateful people of Pskov built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.

For the temple of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Pskov-Pechersk icon of the Mother of God was painted, which has also been given the name, “Appearance of the Mother of God to the Elder Dorotheus.” Though the appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos occurred on August 27th, the celebration of the Pskov-Pechersk Icon was established on October 1.


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