At the session of the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on December 6, 2019, the wonderworking Viliya Znamenny [“of the Sign”] Icon of the Mother of God was glorified and it was decided to establish the feast day of the icon on the Thursday before Pentecost. It was on this day, 130 years ago that the small brass icon miraculously emerged from the ground and revealed its grace-filled power.
The Church of the Holy Great Martyr Paraskeva, where the wonderworking icon is kept, is located in the village of Viliya in the Ostrog District of the Rivne Province. In 1890, the Volyn Ecclesiastical Consistory issued an investigative report containing eyewitness testimony to the appearance and initial miracles of the icon, detailed in Part 1 of our article.
In compiling a new chronicle of the Church of the Great Martyr Paraskeva, Archpriest Alexander Zhuk, the church rector since 2007, collected and recorded numerous cases of the manifestation of the miraculous power of the Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God into a book called The Book of Testimonies of Healings and Other Manifestations of the Grace-filled Power of the Viliya Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God. It includes cases of healing and other miracles by prayers before the revealed image, which significantly supplemented the original list available in the investigative file of the Volyn Ecclesiastical Consistory from December 31, 1890. The book is kept in the Church of St. Paraskeva.
Seeing their sick loved ones healed, relatives declared in writing that their healings could have happened only by the grace of God; only by that which is above all medical benefits.
We present to our readers the most striking accounts from among these miracles recorded at the church and testified to by those who were healed themselves and who were witnesses to the grace-filled help of the icon. However, the majority of miracles undoubtedly remain known to the Mother of God alone.
Healing miracles of the Viliya Icon of the Mother of God
1. Lyubov Vladimirovna Stepanets, Viliya, January 20, 2020:
I would like to tell the story of the healing of Anna Eduardovna Kordonets from a serious illness. She’s my grandmother.
In 1967, she was given the terrible diagnosis of cancer of the mammary gland. Following an examination, the oncologist, Professor Baranovsky, assured her that the tumor was operable, but they had to conduct a number of examinations, a surgery to remove female organs, and chemotherapy. My grandmother was in the hospital for a long time. Before the trip, she asked the church warden Stasyuk Yakim for a piece of a candle that lit by itself before the Viliya Icon of the Mother of God. She had great faith that this particular candle would help her get back home. She sewed this piece of the candle into her shirt and prayed with all her heart, because she was very devout (these candles, by the way, are still in our church now).
My grandmother had been singing in the church choir since she was seven, glorifying God with her voice. The Theotokos heard her prayers and request, and after the serious operations and long treatment, she returned home. She started going to church again and singing (the people said her voice was the adornment of the choir), and she was grateful to the Mother of God for her healing to her last days.
2. Lyudmila Moschnyaga, Odessa, June 2014:
For quite some time, I was unable to find a partner in life with whom to start a Christian family, keeping Christ in the center and not our desires and whims. Like everyone, I dreamed of a strong and happy marriage. By invitation of the rector, in 2008 I went to the Church of the Great Martyr Paraskeva for the feast of the locally-venerated Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God. Since I was a choir director, I went with my church choir from Odessa.
Approaching the icon and venerating it, I asked the Queen of Heaven to grant me a Christian, religious family. Two days after I returned to Odessa, a young man approached me—a member of the choir whom I really liked—and asked my hand. By the way, he had also gone on the trip to the icon. Now he’s a priest and the Lord has blessed our marriage. We have four children. Thanks to the Mother of God for so speedily hearing our prayers.
3. Valentina Vasilievna Skorokhod, 2014:
On the day of the appearance of the Viliya Icon, my family went to the feast at the Church of St. Paraskeva to venerate the Theotokos and ask for her mercy for our family and our grandson Mark, a year and three months old, who had problems with his eyes. His tear ducts were clogged, causing pus to constantly build up—a problem he’d had for a long time. After anointing him with oil from the lampada at the icon, everything stopped the next day, and our grandson fully recovered. The surgery we had planned in Rivne was no longer necessary, thanks to the Mother of God.
4. Archpriest Alexander Maximyuk, dean of the churches of the Ostrog District, March 20, 2014:
I rented a car and went to pray at the icon after suffering a multi-splinter fracture of the knee joint. Having prayed, I immediately felt relief and confidence in my spiritual and physical strength from the Mother of God. Returning to Ostrog, I got behind the wheel on my own for the first time since my injury and began to move without assistance. From then on, I could feel it getting better and healing. Before that, I had to use a wheelchair and crutches. Since then, I’ve been very active in the Divine services. Thanks to the Mother of God for her help. Great grace-filled power comes from this little icon of the Mother of God.
5. Galina Efimovna Momtyuk, Viliya, July 10, 2018:
I would like to tell about the healing of my mother, Ksenia Alexeevna Malivanchuk.
In 1997, she got sick with lung cancer. She was scheduled for an operation in the Rivne Provincial Hospital. On the day of the operation, the doctor went on leave and the replacement doctor canceled the operation. He said she was too old, that she wouldn’t be able to survive the surgery. They took my mother home.
She prayed sincerely, went to church, venerated the wonderworking Znamenny Icon, and received healing. She recovered. She lived for 86 years.
6. Natalia Telesheva, Rivne, November 10, 2018:
In 2009, I became terribly ill with acute fourth-stage lymphoblastic leukemia—that is, last-stage cancer. The doctors predicted I would last a month or two. They were constantly serving molebens before the Znamenny Icon for my health, and these prayers were heard by the Theotokos. I survived. As soon as I felt better, I went to the icon with my daughter Tatiana, whom I had told about the miracle many times. When possible, we go to the wonderworking icon with gratitude and requests for resolutions to new problems.
7. Ksenia Sivak, village of Teofipol, Khmelnitsky Province, December 9, 2018:
An unexpected misfortune happened to my young son, Vitaly. In 2014, an MRI found a brain tumor. They scheduled an operation for December 19, 2014, but we refused.
A woman had told us a story about the Znamenny Icon of the Theotokos in Viliya, and we decided to go there. They opened the door to us, lowered the icon, and gave us holy oil from the lampada before the wonderworking icon. We all venerated the icon, touched by its story, and went home.
My son and I started going to Viliya. Fr. Alexander Zhuk heard about our grief and confessed and gave Communion to my son, and served a moleben for his health before the holy icon. And after the anointing with holy oil, confession, Communion, the molebens, and venerating the wonderworking icon, a miracle occurred. The tumor stopped growing. But everything is not so simple in life. 2017 brought my son another serious illness. It was a hard year for us. My son and I went to the Institute of Traumatology in Kiev, where he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which occurs in one out of 50 million people. The first operation was on February 15; the second was two weeks later. He had casts on both legs and had to use a wheelchair. There were two more operations in October 2017. We felt pain and despair: Why was this happening to us? We took my son to Viliya in a cart on a bus, to see the Mother of God with faith. She won’t leave us. Some kind people helped us bring the wheelchair into the church. We were hoping only in God and the Mother of God.
My son venerated and confessed and we were blessed by the Mother of God for recovery. And a miracle occurred. My son stood up, first one step, then two, then he started to walk on his own.
He’s already going to school on his own this year (before that, teachers would have to come to our house).
In May, he had his fifth operation, which was successful. Vitaly now plays sports, rides a bike, and is getting ready for graduation.
We always go to the Mother of God and thank her for his healings, for my son.
8. Ekaterina Pravdivets, Simferopol, January 3, 2019:
I would like to tell about how the Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God from Viliya worked a great miracle in my life—how the Lord sent me a child by the prayers of the Mother of God.
Having experienced the trial of a stillbirth, it’s hard to convey the feelings of a woman who hears doctors say the chances of getting pregnant are now catastrophically small… And treatment didn’t help. This weight on my soul and pain of loss wouldn’t let me breathe. It’s difficult to call what eventually happened to me by accident a miracle.
In 2014, having heard stories from my friends about the miraculous icon of the Theotokos in Viliya, my husband and I decided to go there and entreat our most intimate desire—a child. After the most sincere and tearful confession of my life, I asked at the icon of the Theotokos to know the joy of motherhood. Four weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. My surprise and gratitude knew no bounds. Now I’m raising a wonderful little boy.
Perhaps I wrote a bit succinctly. It’s just very hard for me to write about it, because I remember my losses, and it hurts…
I thank the Mother of God for the miracle she revealed to me through her icon!
9. Maria Melnichenko, Viliya, January 12, 2019:
I will tell you the story of the healing of my aunt Anisia Tsybulskaya, who lived in the neighboring village of Kutyanka.
Somewhere around 1970-1974, she got sick and was diagnosed with fibromyoma, which required surgery. Anisia was afraid of the operation: She had three children, and most importantly—no money. She and her husband did various jobs at a collective farm. My only way out was to pray and ask for the help of the Znamenny Mother of God. Anisia knew that she helps whoever asks. People would come to the village from all over and receive healing. My aunt prayed and believed. About a month later, she felt better, went to the hospital, and the disease was gone. As long as she lived, she always went to church and was grateful to the Viliya Mother of God for her healing.
My older neighbors knew her and talked to her about it several times.
10. Anna Kondratievna Nikitchuk, village of Krupets, Khmelnitsky Province, April 21, 2019:
I was being treated at the hospital for my eye disease for a long time. They put drops in them for a whole month, but nothing worked. Then I read about your wonderworking Znamenny Icon of the Mother of God in the journal Good Doctor, and I asked my son to take me to Viliya. I prayed to the Mother of God, entreating healing. The Mother of God heard my prayers and I recovered. I thank God and His Most Pure Mother for helping me, as she does everyone who turns to her.
11. Larisa Vasilievna Kidun, Rivne, July 17, 2019:
My husband, Vasily Ivanovich Kokhanov from Rivne, was terribly depressed for six years. He didn’t go outside a single time all those years. In the spring of 2019, during Great Lent, we invited Fr. Alexander Zhuk, the rector of the church in Viliya, to confess and commune us at home. Then Batiushka blessed us and gave us a photocopy of the Znamenny Icon at his church in the village. He told us about how it appeared. This story so penetrated my husband and he so came to believe in the icon that he began to weep greatly before it. When he calmed down, he felt as though a weight had been lifted from his soul. He felt peace and quiet in his soul. After a short period of time, Vasily began to go outside. He promised he would go to the icon’s feast in Viliya on the day of its miraculous appearance. On June 13, together with other pilgrims, he went to the icon with words of gratitude to the Mother of God bringing him out of his depression.
12. Svetlana Koshinskaya, Viliya, July 18, 2019:
My son Bogdan would go to church and served in the altar, but there was an accident. On August 21, my son and I had to go to the hospital. Bogdan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, FAB-variant L2, COMMON-ALL-type. It was a functional disorder of the biliary system.
He was treated from August 21, 2018 to June 13, 2019. Our priest often went to commune my son in the hospital, and we prayed to our holy Znamenny Icon at church. I firmly believed and prayed that the Mother of God would not abandon my son, and she worked a miracle. He is currently in remission. The disease has receded and tests show that my son is healthy.
I should note that we learned the good news that my son was healthy on the eve of our feast of the appearance of the Znamenny Icon, and that is indeed a miracle! Thanks to the Mother of God for her prayers and help!
13. Mariana Romanovna Novitskaya, Ivano-Frankivsk, May 31, 2020:
Before my trip to the Znamenny Icon, I had a dream in which the icon appeared before me in all its power. At the beginning of the dream, I saw a white hut with lots of people in it. They were crowding me, and in the dream I couldn’t understand what was happening. The people led me to the left corner, to the icon. It was small, made of bronze. It had round openings on the Mother of God’s head and belly, and eventually I realized that the very face of Jesus Christ was in her womb. People told me: “Ask what you want. She will give you everything.” So I asked for the first thing that came to mind. Then in my dream I asked what else she does, and the people answered that a candle had lit on its own by the icon. With that, my dream came to an end. When I woke up, I got online and found information about the Znamenny Icon where everything I had seen in the dream was described to a tee. So I decided to go to Viliya, where I venerated the wonderworking icon, and now I bear witness to it.
On May 4, 2020, in the Church of the Great Martyr Paraskeva in Viliya, the rite of the glorification of the Viliya Icon of the Znamenny Mother of God was celebrated.
The festive Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Sergei of Ternopil and Kremenets and Bishop Pimen of Dubno, the vicar of the Rivne Diocese, and invited clergy.
His Eminence Metropolitan Bartholomew of Rivne and Ostrog prayed at the service.
At the end, the rite of the glorification of the wonderworking Viliya Icon of the Mother of God was celebrated with the establishment of the feast on the Thursday before Pentecost.