The Novodvorskaya Icon

20 December /2 January


According to tradition, the miraculous icon of the Theotokos known as the Novodvorskaya Icon was written in the early fourteenth century by the Holy Metropolitan St. Peter. Its name comes from the fact that when it was being written, Holy Hierarch Peter was in a monastery, since destroyed, that stood on the bank of the River Rati, in the settlement Novy Dvorets [New Palace], in Volhyn…

Currently, the Novodvorskaya Icon of the Mother of God is in the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Novgorod-Seversk in the Diocese of Chernigov.

There is an especially revered copy of the Novodvorskaya Icon in the Kamenets Dormition Convent, Novozybkov District of Chernigov Province. The Convent was established in 1687 by Hieromonk Jonah Volkhovsky. Archbishop Lazar (Baranovitch) of Chernigov blessed the newly established Monastery with his own Novodvorskaya Icon of the Mother of God. At the request of the Hierarch, that icon had been copied from Holy Metropolitan St. Peter’s icon. Currently, the Novodvorskaya Icon is considered the principal holy treasure of the Kamenets Convent. Multitudes of the faithful—not only from the local area and province, but also from other cities and towns—come together there to bow down before the Icon. God’s grace, which rests upon the Kamenets Convent, has deigned to glorify the Novodvorskaya Icon with signs of Our Lady’s special intercession and good will towards that Monastery.

On June 26, 1889, a great thunderstorm, with deafening peals of thunder and blinding flashes of lightning, descended upon the Kamenets Monastery. A lightning bolt struck the cupola of the Monastery’s Dormition Church with force, immediately engulfing the tall pinnacle in flames. At the time, an Akathist was being served before the miraculous Novodvorskaya Icon. At the clap of thunder, everyone in church was stunned by an unusual sight: A burst of flame came down from the top of the church, descending along the chandelier chain, and then to the Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God which hung over the Royal Doors. The force of the blow utterly shattered the Icon. From the Royal Doors, the lightning moved toward the Novodvorskaya Icon. The priest standing before the Icon was showered with fiery sparks, and the flames utterly consumed the Icon’s cloth cover. And here it was that our Lady’s particular benevolence toward her immaculate image was revealed: To everyone’s surprise, the Icon was not harmed in any way, either by the strike or by the flames.

Then the lightning, as if repelled by some invisible force emanating from the Icon, turned to the massive, thick wall of the church, and rushed out of the church, with such force that after recovering from their shock, those present could see that the lightning had made an enormous hole in the wall. All the while, the fire in the cupola continued to burn. The convent’s nuns, loudly weeping in helpless despair saw the fiery tragedy spread more and more. The cupola’s great height prevented them from taking any measures to protect the church from the flames. However, Divine benevolence and Our Lady’s Heavenly Protection saved the monastery from disaster. As if in response to the wave of some invisible hand, the wind fanning the flames subsided, a calm descended, and the fire gradually diminished, until it was completely extinguished. Everyone present saw in the marvelous events that had transpired a clear sign of intercession by the Most-holy Theotokos.

In commemoration of that event, there is a Procession of the Cross with the Novodvorskaya Icon of the Mother of God around the Kamenets Monastery annually on June 26, the third day after the Patronal Feast.

Parish Life, December 2020
St. John the Baptist Church, Washington, DC


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