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August 8, 2020

Synaxis of the Tolga Icon of the Mother of God

Synaxis of the Tolga Icon of the Mother of God (Feast Day - August 8)

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared on August 8, 1314 to Bishop Prochorus of Rostov (Tryphon in schema). Going about his diocese, the Saint visited the environs of White Lake and from there traveled along the banks of the Rivers Sheksna and Volga, to Yaroslavl. He stopped with the approach of night seven versts distant from Yaroslavl, at the right bank of the Volga River where there flows opposite into it the River Tolga.

At midnight, when everyone was asleep, the Saint awoke and saw a bright light illuminating the area. The light proceeded from a fiery column on the other bank of the river, to which there stretched a bridge. Taking up his staff, the Saint went across to the other bank, and having approached the fiery column, he beheld on it the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, suspended in the air. Astonished at the miracle, the Saint prayed for a long time, and when he went back, he forgot to take his staff.

The next day, after serving Matins, when Saint Prochorus was preparing to continue his journey by boat, they began to search for his staff, but they were not able to find it anywhere. The Saint then remembered that he had forgotten his staff on the other side of the river, where he had gone across on the miraculous bridge. He then revealed what had occurred, and sent servants across on a boat to the other shore. They came back and reported that in the forest they had seen an icon of the Mother of God suspended in the branches of a tree, next to his bishop’s staff.

The Saint quickly crossed over with all his retinue to the opposite shore, and he recognized the icon that had appeared to him. Then after fervent prayer before the icon, they cleared the forest at that place, and put down the foundations of a church. When the people of Yaroslavl learned of this, they came out to the indicated spot. By midday the church was already built, and in the evening the Saint consecrated it in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and having installed the icon there he established a feast on the day of its appearance. Saint Prochorus later built the Tolga Monastery near this church. Saint Prochorus died on September 7, 1328.

Tradition attributes the following miracles to the revealed Tolga icon:

* September 16, 1392 - myrrh gushed forth from the icon during Matins;

* A dead child was brought to the monastery for burial, and was resurrected through the prayer of his parents in front of the icon;

* Late 14th - early 15th centuries - The miraculous preservation of the icon during a fire that destroyed the church. The icon was found unharmed in a grove near the monastery;

* 1553 - Tsar Ivan the Terrible was healed from a disease in the legs. In gratitude, at the direction of the tsar, a stone cathedral was erected in the Tolga Monastery;

* 1766 - Yaroslavl was saved from drought.

In the 1920s, the icon was withdrawn and transferred to the collection of the Yaroslavl Art Museum. In 2003 the icon was transferred again to the monastery, remaining part of the collection of the Yaroslavl Art Museum.

The Tolga Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is also commemorated on July 18.

To give the face of the Mother of God a mournful expression, the artist highlighted her eyes: the pupils are depicted large and almond-shaped, the eyebrows and eyelids are outlined with white strokes, and the edge of the pupils is highlighted with white highlights. All this contrasted with the dark eye sockets on the face of the Mother of God.