Orthodox America


ICONS OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS "Conversational"


Commemorated August 14

In 1383, an icon of the Mother of God was miraculously transported from Constantinople to the Novgorod region, where it eventually settled in the woods beyond the river Tikhvin. A wooden church was built to house this wonderworking Tikhvin icon (commemorated June 26), and the ecclesiarch George was sent to surrounding villages to inform people of the day of the church's consecration. As he was returning, he had a vision of the Mother of God, sitting on a pine log and surrounded by a radiant light; nearby stood a hierarch, whom the ecclesiarch recognized to be Saint Nicholas. Icons were later painted depicting this vision, and several became renowned as wonderworking images. One of the most revered of these "Conversational" icons, as they were called, was found in the town of Pavlovsk in the Zvenigorod district of Moscow.

A young peasant woman, Theodosia Vassilieva, suffered from attacks of a debilitating illness: she would be seized by acute pains in her head, arms and legs, exhausting her strength and forcing her to bed. In 1848, during a particularly severe and prolonged bout, she had a dream in which she was holding a icon of the Mother of God, chipped and blackened with age. From the icon, Theodosia heard a voice: "Renew me, I shall be a helper of Christians. How many years have I been lying in some forlorn place, and no one has bothered to find and renew me." "How shall I find you?" asked Theodosia. "When you mind, you'll find," came the answer.

Three days later, Theodosia felt well enough to make her way to the local church. Entering the foyer, she saw on the wall the same "Conversational" icon she had beheld in her dream. The old icon had been relegated to the basement of the church, where it had lain neglected for many years until, in 1846, the church watchman had rescued it and placed it in the foyer. Theodosia collected some money and the icon was taken to Moscow to be restored.

The night before the icon returned to Pavlovsk, Theodosia saw in a dream the restored icon and heard a voice directing her to take the icon home and have a moleben served before it, which she did. At the beginning of the moleben, Theodosia had a seizure, but after she was sprinkled with holy water, she came to herself. She then drank some holy water and afterwards felt strong enough to carry the icon back to the church herself. Very soon she made a complete recovery.

When Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow was informed of the miracle, he instructed that the priests make a weekly report of any other miraculous manifestations. Among these were the healings of another peasant girl, Natalia, and of a peasant, Paul, both of whom suffered from epileptic seizures.

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