The Dormition-Pyukhtitskaya Icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos

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In the 16th Century, this Icon was found in a lovely setting on Mt. Kuremyae, known to the Estonian populace as “Pyukhtitsa,” i.e. “Holy Mountain.” At the foot of the mountain there is a spring flowing with healing water.

According to tradition, the Holy Icon appeared at a time when the German nobility was striving to forcibly convert the locals to their faith. It was then that the Mother of God showed her kind mercy to the local populace in order to strengthen them in the Orthodox Faith.

One morning, an Estonian shepherd witnessed the Virgin standing in a radiant light upon the mountain; each time he attempted to come closer, she would become invisible. The astonished shepherd described this miraculous apparition to his fellow villagers, who in their turn were able to confirm that his account was true. The next day, an Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God was found there, resting in a fissure in an ancient oak tree.

The Estonian shepherds who found the Icon of the Mother of God gave it to the Orthodox residents of their village. Then the villagers constructed a chapel to house the Holy Icon near the healing spring at the foot of the mountain.

In 1876 a church was erected on the site of the finding of the Holy Icon, and in 1891, the women’s Monastery of the Dormition was established there. Righteous St. John of Kronstadt, a great pastor and prayerful intercessor for all Russia, was a true native and spiritual father to the nuns of the monastery, providing them with spiritual nourishment and instruction. He foresaw that on the site of the blessed apparition of the Mother of God, a there would arise a great cathedral church monastery, which would become a beacon of Orthodoxy in the Estonian land. Fr. John loved the Pyukhtitsa Monastery very much, and often, sending his spiritual children there, would tell them, “There you will be three steps from the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Each year on the Feast of the Dormition of the Most-holy Theotokos, such great numbers of the faithful would gather at Pyukhtitsa that during the All-night Vigil, the entire mountain would be illuminated by the candles being held by the faithful

The Pyukhtitskaya Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God is relatively small in size. Applied to the Icon below the depiction of the Mother of God in the tomb is an open-mesh silver net serving as her shroud.

Pilgrims for everywhere continue to come to Pyukhtitsa to bow down before the Icon granted [to the faithful] by the Queen of Heaven herself, and to wash in the healing waters of the spring.

Parish Life, a monthly publication of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC


Used with permission.

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