Zhirovichi, Belarus, March 13, 2020
The miraculous appearance of the Zhirovichi Icon of the Mother of God. Photo: zhirovichi-monastery.by Orthodox faithful from Belarus and abroad will take off on a 650+-mile, month-long procession in late April in honor of the 550th anniversary of the appearance of the Zhirvochi Icon of the Mother of God.
With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslavl, the procession will begin at the Convent of St. John in the village of Korma on April 20. It will come to an end at the Holy Dormition-Zhirovichi Monastery on May 18, passing through more than 25 localities, reports the Vitebsk Diocese of the Belarusian Church.
The procession, “Under the Protection of the Zhirovichi Icon of the Mother of God,” will also be dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Zhirovichi Monastery and the 75th anniversary of the victory in WW2.
In August, Met. Pavel consecrated a holy spring at the Zhirovichi Monastery as part of the preparations for the celebration of the appearance of the icon and the founding of the monastery.
The icon was discovered in the spring of 1470 in the vast forests of a Lithuanian boyar among the thick branches of a wild pear tree, when young shepherds saw a miraculous radiance emanating from the small icon. They took the icon to the Boyar Soltan, telling him about the miraculous appearance, but he was unimpressed and placed the icon in a box. However, that evening, when he remembered the icon and wanted to tell some guests about it, the icon was gone.
The shepherds found the icon on the same tree again the next day. This time, the boyar received the icon reverently and vowed to build a church in honor of the icon on the site of its appearance. News of the icon spread and many pilgrims would come to venerate it and worship in the church.
The church was destroyed in a fire in 1520 and the icon disappeared, until, some time later, the Mother of God appeared to some school children, revealing the icon for the second time.
It was at the Zhirovichi Monastery in 1839 that the Lithuanian Uniates signed the act of reunification with holy Orthodoxy, under the much-venerated Metropolitan Joseph (Semashko) of Vilnius and Lithuania. The monastery thus became the first spiritual center in Belarus for the restoration of Orthodox worship.
The holy icon now resides in the Dormition Church of the Zhirovichi Monastery.