Novo-Tikhvin women's monastery: Our Heavenly Abbess

Our Heavenly Abbess

The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, which is kept in the Catholicon of St. Alexander Nevsky
The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, which is kept in the Catholicon of St. Alexander Nevsky

To whom else can I flee, O Pure One?
Where else can I run, and be saved?
Whither shall I go? What other refuge shall I find?
What other fervent defender?
What other helper in sorrows?
Yet daring, unto thee have I fled. .

 

 

 

 

Holy icons, especially icons of the Most Holy Theotokos, have always been loved by the Russian people. From birth until death, every man is accompanied by an icon of our meek and humble Mistress. When a child is baptized, when a young couple is blessed for holy matrimony, when a house is built, when the departed are sent on their final path to eternity: always and everywhere, Her bright countenance can be seen. If there is tragedy in the family, it is to Her that they turn; if there is tragedy in the nation, it is to Her that they turn.



Procession with the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God
Procession with the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God

The Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God, which appeared miraculously in the year 1383 in the region of Novgorod, is one of the most venerated icons in Russia. Numerous miracles have taken place through that icon: among them were appearances, signs and healings of the infirm. People have turned to the icon especially often and fervently with prayers for children. The icon acquired special gratitude and love in times of war and invasion. The Tikhvin icon is our protector and defender.




Procession on July 9, the feastday of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God
Procession on July 9, the feastday of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God

The icon which is kept in the Catholicon of St. Alexander Nevsky was brought here shortly after the reestablishment of the Monastery in 1994. Since that time, every year on June 26 (July 9, new style), the feastday of the Tikhvin Icon, it has been carried in procession around the monastery. For the clergy of the Monastery, for all of the sisters and for hundreds of the faithful as well, that day is one of the most radiant and festive of the year.

 

The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God

The Most Holy Theotokos, having taken Russia under her protection, gave our land Her wonderworking icons for its protection. The Pochaev and Smolensk Icons surround the Russian lands from the west, the Kazan Icon from the east. The Iveron Icon protects the southern lands, and in the center of Russia, the Vladimir Icon shines forth rays of grace. It is the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God that protects and blesses the northern limits of Russia.

The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. The XVth century
The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. The XVth century

According to tradition, the wonderworking Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God is one of three painted by the hand of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. They are contemporaries, as it were, of the Theotokos Herself.

There is a wonderful legend about how this icon arrived in Russia. In 1383 it disappeared from the magnificent cathedral at Blachernae in Constantinople, which was built for it, so it was as if Our Lady Herself moved from Byzantium to Russia. During the reign of the Grand Prince of Moscow, Dimitry Donskoy, this wonderworking icon first appeared in the region of Novgorod. It appeared above the waters of Lake Ladoga, invisibly borne through the air by angels, shining with a radiant light. Many times the icon moved from place to place, healing the infirm and comforting those in sorrow. In those places where the icon stopped, pious Orthodox Christians built chapels and churches. She chose the small town of Tikhvin as her permanent place of shelter. There a church was soon built for the icon, and in time a monastery grew up around it which came to be known as the Great Tikhvin Monastery. The veneration of the icon was so great that a special window was built into the church, through which pilgrims could see the wonderworking icon and pray before it even when the church was locked. It is noteworthy that an unusual warmth issued from the hands of the Theotokos on the icon that could be felt by the lips of those who venerated it.

Icon from the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
Icon from the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra

A great number of city and monastery churches housed copies of the Tikhvin icon which themselves were glorified by miracles and were especially revered. At the end of the eighteenth century there was such a revered icon in the church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Ekaterinburg. Apparently the city dwellers and pilgrims prayed so frequently and so earnestly before this icon that the church itself was often called “the church of the Tikhvin icon.” It was precisely this church which was destined to become the first church of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent. After the founding of the convent by the first Abbess, Mother Taisia, it received an exact copy of the famous wonderworking icon from the Great Tikhvin Monastery. In this monastery in the Urals there were several revered copies of the Tikhvin icon, but this one was especially venerated.

During the years of Soviet rule this ancient icon disappeared, never to return, and today an icon painted at the end of the nineteenth or the beginning of the twentieth century is housed in the Novo-Tikhvin Convent. In our days as well, the Lord grants help to those who ask in faith through the prayers of the Mother of God.