Monday, February 15, 2021

Synaxis of the Dalmatian Icon of the Mother of God

Original Dalmatian icon in a frame and an icon case
(photo by S.M. Prokudin-Gorsky, 1911)
 
In Perm Gubernia, Shadrinsk county, on the banks of the Iseti River, is the Dalmatian Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos. In the main church of this monastery is a wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which belonged to Father Dalmatios, the founder of this monastery.

In the first half of the 17th century, a certain resident of Tobolsk, a nobleman by the name of Demetrios Mokrinsky, left his wife and children, and went to the Nevyansky Monastery (Tobolsk Diocese), where he was tonsured with the name Dalmatios, in honor of the fourth century ascetic Saint Dalmatios of Constantinople (August 3).

Since Father Dalmatios was known for his exalted life of asceticism and virtue, the brethren of the Nevyanaky Monastery wanted to choose him as their abbot, but out of humility, the Elder would not accept such an august position with all its responsibilities. He left the monastery, taking with him an Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God.

In 1644 he arrived in Perm Gubernia, where he settled in a cave on land owned by the Tyumen Tatar Ilegei. When Iligei discovered that a monk had settled on his property, and even intended to establish a monastery there, he was indignant. Gathering his relatives, he went with the intention of expelling Dalmatios. Iligei spent the night near the cave, beyond the River Iseti, waiting for dawn to make an unexpected attack on the recluse.

Father Dalmatios seemed to be in imminent danger of death, if he tried to resist or defend himself. He could not expect help from anyone anywhere, nor could he flee, since he did not know that an enemy lurked beyond the river in the darkness of night, ready to spill his blood at any moment. The monk did not require any human protection, however, for his protector was the Queen of Heaven.

When Iligei was asleep, the Mother of God appeared to him in a dream, wearing a crown and dressed in a crimson robe, holding a flaming sword in her hands. The Most Holy Theotokos strictly forbade him to harm Father Dalmatios, and ordered Iligei to give the monk some land for a monastery. Awakened by this terrible vision, the Tatar went to Father Dalmatios, accompanied by all his companions, and gave him a piece of land on which to build a monastery.

The Queen of Heaven's wondrous protection of Dalmatios occurred in 1646. In that same year, the Dalmatian Monastery was founded.

At the end of 1646, the newly-established monastery was attacked by the Kalmyks. They set fire to the monastery's buildings; some of the monks who fled were killed, and some were taken captive. During this time, only Dalmatios, the founder of the monastery, escaped death, saved by the wonderworking Icon. This was the same Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God which he brought with him from the Nev'yan Monastery. When the Kalmyks went away, Elder Dalmatios returned to the same site and began working alone to rebuild the monastery. A few years later, because of his diligence, a wooden church was already standing on the site of the ruined monastery, and nearby there were also cells for monks. Pilgrims began to visit and made donations for the adornment of the monastery and the temple. From that time, word of the monastery quickly spread all over, not only in the places close by, but also in very remote places.

In 1651, less than twenty years after the founding of the Dalmatian Monastery, it was attacked again. This time it was attacked by the Siberian Prince Devlet-Girei. He ransacked and burned the monastery. The Icon of the Mother of God, however, remained unscathed, although the church completely burned down. In just one place, on the back of the board, there was a scorched spot where a certain Muslim had put his hand.

In 1702, the icon was restored by the Tobolsk iconographer Ivan Nikitin.

The monastery was restored by Archimandrite Isaac, the son of Father Dalmatios. He built a stone church in 1707, and in it he placed the wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God.

During the reign of Empress Catherine II, the monastery withstood a three-day siege by the troops of Emelian I. Pugachev, while the monks prayed before the Dalmatian Icon.

In 1800 the Icon was adorned with a gilded riza with silver crowns and precious gems, by order of the abbot Gideon. In 1864 Archimandrite Methodios ordered a new silver and gilded riza from Moscow, decorated with precious stones. The Icon was in a special kiot, decorated with carvings, and was covered with a colorful silk curtain, which could be opened when necessary.

On April 19, 1852, many of the monastery buildings, including the upper church, were destroyed by fire.

Once again, the Dalmatian Icon remained undamaged.

Every year on February 15th, and again on August 15th, the monastery's primary feast, great crowds, estimated of at least 5,000 pilgrims, would travel to the Dalmatian Monastery in order to venerate the wonderworking Icon. The sick receive healing, according to their faith, from this wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God. This custom continued until 1917.

In the early 1920s, after the monastery was abolished, the monks went to other monasteries, taking the Dalmatian Icon with them. At present, there is no information about the location of the Icon.

Those who experience physical or spiritual suffering pray before the Dalmatian Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos for deliverance. 


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