Moscow, May 3, 2017
The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God “of the Tithes” was painted in 1998 in Berkeley, CA by artist and teacher of iconography Alexander Charon, blessed to paint icons by his spiritual father Igumen Andrew (Mashkov) in 1978.
At first the icon was used as a model for iconography students. In 2004 the icon was exhibited for prayer and veneration at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and again also as a model for painting other icons. The icon was placed in San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in 2005.
After the icon arrived in Ukraine it was kept in the St. John the Forerunner chapel of the St. Elias Church in the Podil neighborhood of Kiev. In 2006, by the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, Pascha was served on the spot of the first cathedral of the Kievan Rus’ period, the Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Tithes,” after which the icon received the same title and was transferred to the newly-formed church which was built on the same site in 2007.
The original church “of the Tithes” was built between 989 and 996 by order of St. Vladimir the Great, so named because the Grand Prince had set aside a tithe of his income and property to finance the church’s construction and maintenance. The church was destroyed by Mongols in 1240, rebuilt in the mid-19th century, and again destroyed in 1928 by the godless Soviets. A temporary structure was set up in 2006 to celebrate Pascha on the site, in 2007 a wooden church was built on the same site, and on July 9, 2009, the Holy Synod decided to open the Nativity of the Mother of God Monastery “of the Tithes,” where the icon is now located.
The icon remained throughout Bright Week in the temporary chapel set up for Pascha in 2006. On Bright Thursday, following the evening services of the Life-Giving Spring, nearly all of the parishioners had left when some clergy and parishioners standing on the street outside the church noticed that people were lying on the floor in the church. The clergy immediately entered the church to revive the women, asking what happened. As it turns out, one young girl and one older woman, unacquainted before this, literally with one voice answered that they had seen the Most Holy Theotokos herself!
The younger girl, Lyudmila Linkevich, noted that only she and the older woman had remained in the church, and when she looked at the icon “of the Tithes” in the center of the church she began to feel chills in her legs and a sudden coldness. “Before the icon, with her back to us and her face to the altar, stood the figure of the Mother of God, with uplifted hands, as in the image of the Orans Theotokos,” she stated, saying the image was not airy or transparent, but quite material like a normal person. She felt as if raised from the ground a bit, but was unable to speak or move. “Do you see the Theotokos?” the older woman asked her, and she barely managed to say “Yes.” “We saw her for a few seconds,” she says, “and then she disappeared.”
They knew it was the Theotokos, according to the older woman, because of the overwhelming feeling of grace that came when the apparition looked upon the icon of the Theotokos. When she entered the altar and lifted her hands in prayer, then the two lost consciousness.
Met. Vladimir accepted the visitation as a sign that liturgical life was meant to continue on the spot of the most ancient Kievan church.
The icon has been connected with several miracles since, including calming stormy waters, restoring ancient icons, miraculously surviving fire, and several healings, among many others.