The rite of glorification of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God “of the Tithes” will be celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev today, Saturday, May 6, in Kiev’s Nativity of the Mother of God Monastery “of the Tithes.”
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-nineteenth 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 story of the miraculous Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God of the Tithes
At first the icon was used as a model for iconography students. In San Francisco in 2000, a large group of American Christians, training in the iconography school where the given icon of the Mother of God was the model, joined the Orthodox Church, starting the community of the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos. In 2004, the icon was exhibited for prayer and veneration at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and again also as a model for painting 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 Tithes Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos, after which the icon received the same title. The icon was transferred to the newly-formed church. The day before a tent was set up, a so-called “tabernacle,” where the festive Paschal services were celebrated.
It was originally planned to serve the Liturgy only on Pascha, but knowing the importance of prayers on the spot of the Tithes Cathedral, they decided to serve there throughout Bright Week. Therefore, they did not start dismantling the temporary structure.
After the evening service on the eve of the feast of the Lifegiving Spring Icon of the Mother of God, practically everyone had left, only a few parishioners remaining to pray. The clergy and some parishioners were standing on the street outside the church, discussing the future of the tabernacle. Suddenly they saw 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!
Verbatim testimony of the handmaiden of God Lyudmila Linkevich
I, the handmaiden of God Lyudmila, was witness to a vision of the Theotokos in the Tithes Church-tabernacle in May 2006. I went to the Church of the Tithes during Bright Week, to support the community in upholding its right to have a parish church of the Tithes. This was in the first days after they had erected the tabernacle. There were only a few people in the church. I entered the church and stood to the left side of the entrance. The people who had been in the church were leaving and talking outside, standing not far from the entrance. Only I and one woman standing near me were left. An audio recording of the Liturgy was playing in the church. I looked at the Tithes Icon of the Theotokos that was there on the analogian in the center of the church, and suddenly I began to feel chills in my legs and a crisp coldness. And before the icon, with her back to us, facing the altar, stood the figure of the Mother of God with uplifted hands, as in the Theotokos-Orans image. She was not gaseous or transparent, but quite material, just like a normal person. The feeling arose in me as if I was slightly raised off the ground, and my hair was standing on end. I could neither speak nor move. The woman standing near me, turned to me: “Do you see the Theotokos?” I could barely answer, “Yes.” We saw her for a few seconds, and then she disappeared.
The women were asked, “How did you decide that it was the Most Holy Theotokos, and not someone else, like Princess Olga?” to which they answered, “No, we felt that it was the Most Pure Virgin, because we were embraced by a feeling of grace and fear when she looked at her icon. And then, when she went into the altar through the Royal Doors, and raised her most pure hands, then we lost consciousness.”
The primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir was notified about the occurrence. He responded, “If the Most Pure one herself appeared on the place of the first cathedral of Kievan Rus’ and blessed it with her presence, then our duty now is to continue the liturgical life on this holy spot.”
In 2007, at the installation of a wooden church in honor of Prince Vladimir and Princess Olga, a heavy downpour began. It had been decided to continuously serve a moleben before the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God. As soon as they began the moleben, the clouds dispersed from over the church, and the rain ceased. However, it stopped only on the spot of the church in a radius of 65-100 feet, but on the perimeter of the territory it only intensified.
The Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos has led several all-Ukrainian cross processions
In 2007, the “In the Footsteps of Andrew the First-Called” cross procession was held by the initiative of the Tithes Church on a yacht along the waters of the Dnieper, with access to the Black Sea along the Crimean coast. The miracle that occurred during the procession struck all its participants.
Before leaving from Kherson for Sevastopol, the strongest of storms began to run wild. Due to the storm, they weren’t allowing ships to leave the Kherson port. The whole schedule of the procession was thrown off by this. Seeing this situation, the priests on the boat began to serve a moleben to the Tithes Icon of the Theotokos and, against all odds, began to process according to the established schedule. The waves parted during their prayers, and along the whole way the elements bypassed the vessel on the side, although the ten-point storm was obviously raging all around. By the prayers of the Theotokos the ship arrived safely and on time to Sevastopol.
In 2008, by the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, the icon led the All-Ukrainian cross procession dedicated to the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, during which many miracles and healings also took place. One of the most striking miracles occurred in the city of Theodosia in the Church of Great Martyr Dimitry of Thessalonica. According to tradition, the church was painted by St. Theophanes the Greek himself, the teacher of St. Andrei Rublev. A significant part of the frescoes in the church were in need of restoration. After the Tithes Icon Mother of God was carried into the church, the outlines of the faces of the Most Holy Theotokos and the apostles began to appear on frescoes with destroyed images.
And in the Schelkovsky District, the Cross appeared in the heavens at the moment when the icon was carried into the village church. This miracle was witnessed by numerous people.
In 2012, pagans burned the Church of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and Olga in the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Tithes Monastery. The icon of the Most Holy Theotokos stood amidst the flames for more than three hours, but was not harmed.
In 2016, by the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the brothers of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Tithes Monastery began preparing and gathering information for the glorification of the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
On December 26, 2016, at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, information was heard from Metropolitan Onuphry on the establishment within the Kiev Diocese of the celebration in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God of the Tithes on Friday of Bright Week.
1. To bless the establishment within the Kiev Diocese of the celebration in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God of the Tithes on Friday of Bright Week.
2. To approve the iconographic image of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God of the Tithes.
3. To approve the presented draft troparion, kontakion, and prayer before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God of the Tithes.
Below are testimonies of miracles of the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos:
Testimonies on miracles and healings through prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos before her miraculous Vladimir Icon of the Tithes
Healing from a cyst
I, the handmaiden of God Lyudmila, received healing in the Tithes Church. In August 2006, I discovered a lump in my chest and went to the doctor. They examined me and diagnosed me with a cyst of the mammary gland. They prescribed a treatment, but it yielded no special results. The disease brought me fear and despondency.
I first went to the Tithes Church in September 2006 to pray to the Theotokos for healing. Then I communed in the Tithes Church for the first time.
On October 14, the feast of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, I again prayed and communed in the Tithes Church. After that, I gradually began to feel the reduction of the cyst and today I couldn’t even find it. I thank God and the Most Holy Theotokos for healing.
Handmaiden of God Lyudmila, 12/10/2006
A miracle with an apartment
In September 2006, I went to the priest at the Tithes Church for a blessing to sell and buy an apartment with the purpose of changing my place of residence. Batiushka blessed me, and every weekend after he worried about the result. But there was no result; nothing came of it. Seeing my despair from desperation at solving the problem, the priest offered to serve a moleben before the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
But a short time had passed when the situation resolved itself in the most unexpected way. In one day, I sold a three-room apartment in Vinogradar (710 sq. ft.), and bought a three-room apartment in the center of Kiev (1010 sq. ft.) at minimum expenditure, next to the Church of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos, where I had been baptized.
Considering all the material and timing factors in this event, it can only be seen as a miracle, by prayers before the miraculous Tithes Icon of the Mother of God.
Handmaiden of God Tatiana Krivenchuk, parishioner of Tithes Monastery, 2006
The handmaiden of God Mary’s return to life
A high-ranking official came to the abbot of the Tithes Monastery, Archimandrite Gideon, to arrange his mother’s burial. His mother Maria was in intensive care and was showing no signs of life—her breathing was forcibly supported by machines. The question was when to turn them off: Doctors unanimously asserted that it was impossible to bring the woman back to life, and gave her family time to find a spot in a cemetery. One of Mary’s two sons was greatly grieved, and wept and berated himself that his mother was dying and he hadn’t been able to bid farewell. Batiushka said to him, “Take and put two full-sized candles in front of the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, and pray from your whole heart in your own words, and your mama will live.” The abbot asked, “And how much do you want your mama to live?” He answered that if she lived for half a year, he would be the happiest person on earth. Fr. Gideon said, “You will see how it will be.” The handmaiden of God Maria, who was then over 70, returned to life from “the point of no return.” The head physician and all the medical personnel of the hospital were in disbelief; it was a colossal shock for all. She had effectively died, and the doctors were preparing to pronounce her dead, when suddenly she raised up. The abbot went there several times, anointing her with Unction and communing her with the Holy Mysteries of Christ, and truly, in exactly half a year Maria departed to the Lord.
Marriage and a happy family
In 2006, after the All-Night Vigil, my friend and I went up to the abbot of the Tithes Monastery to say goodbye and take his blessing. During our conversation with Fr. Gideon I asked him to pray for us and for us to have successful marriages. We were then 25-26, but this question had worried us for two years already.
Batiushka very quickly responded to our request, saying that it’s a very important question, because meeting people is God’s providence, and he offered to serve a moleben to St. Catherine on the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Batiushka served the moleben at the appointed time in the Tithes Church before the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Less than a year after the moleben I got married at the Tithes Church.
Handmaiden of God Tatiana Krivenchuk, parishioner of Tithes Monastery, 2007
Salvation from prison
Once a woman came to me crying, asking me to pray for her son. The young man had a trial appointment that day to decide his fate. During the conversation it became clear that her son really was guilty. I suggested serving a moleben before the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God. We prayed for them to give her son the minimum sentence. The next day this woman came to the church happy with a bouquet of roses and gave thanks to God and the Most Holy Virgin Mary for her son’s salvation, who was completely acquitted and sent home.
Dean of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery of the Tithes, Archimandrite Clement (Shmigelsy), 2008
A mother’s prayer for her children
In 2011, I went to the Tithes Church with my son and daughter and asked Fr. Melchizedek to serve a moleben before the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God. We were in a difficult situation. During the reading of the Gospel, my son was acting like it was his first time in church. After the moleben I started asking Batiushka for forgiveness for my son’s behavior. Batiushka said, “Give him to us for an obedience.” I said, “Take him.” I want to mention the fact that these words and my response were spoken word for word in 2006 by one batiushka in Svyatogorsk Lavra, where my son and I often went on pilgrimage. The conversation then also touched on it. Thus, praying before the Tithes Icon of the Theotokos, the Most Pure one arranged for my son to take up obedience in the Tithes Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Handmaiden of God Photini, parishioner of Tithes Monastery, 2011
A marriage arranged
I, the handmaiden of God Galina, turned to the Tithes Theotokos with a request about my daughter’s marriage. In spring of this year my daughter got married. I thank the Mother of God and all the saints for their help.
Handmaiden of God Galina Golubeva, parishioner of Tithes Monastery
Healing from cancer
I found out about my sickness (breast cancer) and was very scared—I was, after all, still a young woman, and there is often a tragic outcome to this disease. At my doctor’s advice, I began to have regular check-ups and to be treated with medicine, spending a huge amount of money, but there was no positive result. I even became worse.
At my next doctor’s appointment, having studied the results of my analyses and having consulted with other doctors, he pronounced his decision like a sentence—operation to remove the breast. Seeing nothing before me, shedding tears, I walked about the city, not knowing and not thinking about where I was going. I don’t recall how long I was walking this way when I snapped out of it in front of a small church, and suddenly I recognized it—I had been there before. It was the small Tithes Church. As soon as I went into the church, a new wave of tears washed over me, I literally screamed, and some unknown force was drawing me to the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. I fell to my knees before it and, shedding tears, began to pray. It was like a conversation with a kind and loving mother. I told the Theotokos about my whole life, all my sorrows, about my children, and I asked for help and consolation. I stood there on my knees for two or three hours. Then Batiushka came to the church, and I told him about my troubles. He offered to serve a moleben of healing before the icon. Having served the moleben, Batiushka blessed me with the cross, anointed me with oil, and said, “God is merciful. He certainly will hear your prayers and not abandon you at this difficult moment in life.” Despite this terrible diagnosis, despite the fear that gripped me, I suddenly felt tremendous relief and peace. I was scheduled for surgery two days later, and I, already reconciled to my future, went for the operation. The doctors were even more surprised than I was when after my pre-op checkup they told me in disbelief that I was perfectly healthy. There was not even a hint of the disease.
Handmaiden of God Elena, 2011
Another case of healing from cancer
We went to the Tithes Monastery so that Batiushka could pray for my wife—she had stage-four cancer. The doctors had done everything they could and then said we should go home. They said, “Let your wife stay home with her grandchildren; she has two or three weeks or a month left.” My wife was on strong painkillers.
We served a moleben to the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God. When the doctor saw her, they were in disbelief. They did a complete examination and they found nothing! There was no trace of the disease. The doctors asked, “What did you take? Forgive us, we thought you were already buried.” We replied, “We prayed before the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God at church.”
Gennady Ivanovich Gera, parishioner of Tithes Monastery, 2012
Miraculous help for a childless couple
My husband and I met each other and began a family at an old enough age, but three years passed and the Lord gave us no children.
My husband and I went to a service at the Tithes Church, communed, and Fr. Gideon served a moleben for childbirth for us before the central Tithes Icon of the Mother of God. The priest said, “That’s it, come kiss the cross,” and blessed us to go home. I conceived in that same month, although, as we later found out, medically speaking it was impossible! We gave birth to our child on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos!
Handmaiden of God Rufina (Ruslan) Kanyuka, 2013
Path to God
In 2009, my father-in-law was given a scary diagnosis which sounded like a sentence—metastasized cancer. The thing is, my father-in-law was an atheist. It was very difficult to talk with him about God and the Church; he would either go silent or change the topic. In December 2015, his condition deteriorated.
I am a parishioner of Tithes Monastery and I turned to our community for help, and we prayed to the Tithes Icon of the Theotokos.
Once, while talking with my father-in-law about what medicines he needed, I decided to vocalize what I had been wanting to say for so long but had been afraid to. I told him it’s not necessary to think about medicines, but about Confession and Communion, and I spoke about the Sacrament of Unction. In response, as with other matters and as always, I heard only silence. It was a February Friday evening, and on Saturday my father-in-law’s wife said she had talked with him about Unction, and he said, “My parents were atheists; I have always been an atheist, and I’m not going to change my faith. If you invite a priest I will chase him out.” After that conversation, I prayed and asked the Lord not to abandon him. On Sunday at Liturgy at the Tithes Mother of God Icon I tearfully begged her to help us. After Liturgy, my father-in-law’s wife called and said that papa had confessed and communed.
Then I found out that during the day he had had great pain like always, but at night, in place of the usual terrible cries, his wife heard him speaking with God, asking Him and answering Him. In the morning this man, who had never once turned to the Lord his whole life, who had not gotten up off of his bed for a long time, suddenly got up, keeping his back very straight, and when she asked, “Where are you going?” he answered, “To repentance.” His wife helped him get ready, and for the first time not fearing to leave home, they went to church to the Sunday Liturgy. He quietly departed to the Lord on the third day after Communion.
Handmaiden of God Larisa Athanasieva, 2015
Help for a schemanun
The first time I went to the Tithes Church I felt the special grace coming from the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Tithes standing in the center of the church. I felt it on my ailing feet. The feeling was so pleasant that I didn’t want to leave, and I started going to all the services, even in poor condition, and when I would leave I didn’t feel the pain that was always there.
I thank the Mother of our God, the Queen of Heaven and earth, that she sends relief to people, and to me, through her icon. Although I’m already 85, I now go after every service on a cross procession with the matushkas around the foundations of the Tithes Church, praying “Rejoice Virgin Theotokos” 150 times, which I didn’t allow myself to do before.
Schemanun Nionila, parishioner of Tithes Monastery, 2016
Baptism of a Japanese man
One day it was raining heavily and no one was in church except the candle-seller. I was waiting for the storm to end when a Japanese man stopped into the church to wait out the heavy rain. He went up to the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and froze in front of it, standing for a long time, not taking his eyes off it. I spoke to him in English, asking him what religion he was. It turns out that he knew nothing about Christ. I told him the incident when the Theotokos appeared before the icon in 2006, went into the altar, and disappeared. The Japanese man was struck by this and said he would tell all his friends at home about this miracle. I told him he could place his head on the icon and ask whatever he wanted from the Mother of God. He stood on his knees for a quarter of an hour and asked me to tell him more about Christ and the Mother of God. I told him Who Jesus Christ is, that He is the God-Man Who came in the flesh to bestow upon it eternity in His Divinity. He asked, “For the Japanese too?” I said, “For you personally!” He said everything within him had been turned upside down, and he felt an indescribable feeling, which he wanted to take with him to Japan. I asked if he wanted to be baptized. He answered that that’s exactly what he wanted, but he didn’t know how to ask. Then I called the abbot and told him everything, asking a blessing to baptize this man. That same day he flew to Tokyo with the name Nicholas, in honor of St. Nicholas the enlightener of Japan.
Archimandrite Jeremiah (Kharon), 2016
The story of a Tithes Monastery parishioner
Before I came to the church, I had surgery to remove some tumors and I was supposed to have check-ups and treatments every year. Of course, one of my requests at the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was to work a miracle and deliver me from the burden of my disease. And this year the doctor didn’t even prescribe maintenance therapy.
But my health was not the only subject of my prayers, but also that my mom was sick and didn’t go to church. It didn’t work to ask her to commune of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. And Grandma had fallen in with the Seventh Day Adventists. At every Liturgy I asked the Lord and His Mother to show me what to do. With the help of God and petitioning the Mother of God before her icon, to which I was praying, Mama and Grandma had Unction and received Holy Communion before death, and Grandma even communed fully conscious one hour before death.
Another important thing for me in life is my daughter, whom God gave my husband and me.
Anna’s studies at school were very difficult, but I had always wanted her to receive a higher education. She left school with a very shaky report card. She studied well in trade school, and then the time came to enter an institute. After praying to the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, Anya entered the institute with financial aid!
Anya already entered a master’s program this year, and again we prayed to the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. And again—aid! Every time she enrolled for assistance, there was one place left, and it was given to my daughter!
Handmaiden of God Irina Obolenskaya, 2016
Help for a monk of the monastery
Before the service my back began to seriously ache, such that I could barely move. I was supposed to bring the Gospel out at the Polyeleos with the proclamation of the Prokemeinon. The archdeacon offered to do it for me, but I decided to bring out the Holy Gospel at any cost. After the Magnification, proclaiming the Small Ektenia before the Tithes Icon of the Mother of God, I prayed for my healing. The pain miraculously left, and I brought out the Gospel, chanting the Sunday Prokeimenon.
Hierodeacon Gabriel (Kairasov), 2016
The doctors gave me a diagnosis of an aggressive pancreas tumor. For a long time I didn’t dare tell them at work that I had to be absent because I had to have an operation. However, when I told them, they supported me and sent me for a detailed examination, and, if need be, to immediately have the operation.
My boss, a very faithful man, sincerely prayed for my healing before the Tithes Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Within a week of them giving me the diagnosis, the next examination showed that I had no tumor and not even the usual pancreatic problems.
Yuna Shaikhalieva, 2016