Kiev, December 9, 2019
The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church established a new feast at its session in the Kiev Caves Lavra on December 6, in honor of the wonderworking Viliya Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign.”
By decision of the Synod, the miraculous icon will be celebrated annually on the Thursday before Pentecost, as it was on that day 130 years ago that the small copper icon miraculously came out from under the floor of the Ostapchuk family.
Archpriest Alexander Zhuk, rector of the Church of St. Paraskeva in the village of Viliya in the Rivne Province, was involved in preparing the necessary documents for the glorification of the icon and was prompted to such work by the Mother of God herself, he told a correspondent of the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
“I have been the rector in the church in Viliya for twelve years already, and many miracles have occurred right before my very eyes during this time: People who go to the ‘Sign’ icon with sicknesses and problems have received healing and answers,” Fr. Alexander commented. “Over time, I realized we needed to keep a special book where everyone who was healed could write about it. There have turned out to be many stories of healings.”
Fr. Alexander worked for several years in the archives in Zhytomyr, Kiev, and Rivne to gather all the required documents, where he managed to find confirmation of miracles from the Viliya Icon even from a century ago.
“There is a record of the miraculous salvation of the inhabitants of Viliya in wartime, when the Nazis wanted to burn people and drove them to the temple, and locked them in. According to recollections, people prayed with inspiration at the ‘Sign’ icon and a miracle happened! It is not known why, but the Germans did not set fire to the Church and left the village,” Fr. Alexander explained.
The locals also preserve many stories of miraculous healings worked by the Mother of God. Svetlana Shovkun, an employee of the Viliya Museum spoke about her co-worker who witnessed the miraculous healing of her sister at the icon:
Maria Tkach was only nine years old when her older sister Vera fell ill with edema. Doctors shrugged, and the family was forced to take the daughter home. The patient was carried out because she couldn’t walk; her body was swollen with fluid. Then the sick girl had a dream in which her gray-bearded grandfather advised her to visit the chapel with the “Sign” icon. In the morning, the family took the sick girl to the icon with much trouble. There they prayed and cried, and the next day everyone was amazed—the water flowed out and Vera lived a long time to old age after the miraculous healing.