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The Reigning Mother of God

Our Lady Derzhavnaya (Icon of the Mother of God, “Reigning”)

On March 15th (March 2nd on the Old Calendar), the Church commemorates the Patroness of our parish, the Icon of the Reigning Mother of God.

Icons of the Theotokos have always held a special significance for the Russian people: not only because such a multitude of them appeared throughout the Russian land, not only because they worked such an abundance of miracles, but also because they often ruled over Russian history. Thus, for example, the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God defended the Russian people from Tatar invasions and destruction, while the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos played an important role during the Time of Troubles (1605-1613) and the invasion of Napoleon (1812). Other icons, such as those of Pochaev and Lesna, had a more regional significance, defending their regions from enemy attacks, but all of them revealed the great charity of the Mother of God towards the Russian people.

The Icon of the Reigning Mother of God has a unique place in Russian history. It appeared in the Kolomenskoye village near Moscow on March 2, 1917, the very day that Tsar-martyr Nicholas II abdicated the throne. Until 1812 the Icon belonged to a convent in Moscow, but in the year of Napoleon’s invasion of Moscow it was hidden in the Kolomenskoye village and forgotten there for 105 years, until the time came for the Icon to be revealed in accordance with God’s will. The Icon was found among other old icons in the cellar of the Church of the Ascension, after the peasant woman Yevdokiya Adrianova was twice instructed in a dream to go to the Kolomenskoye village and search there for a special Icon of the Mother of God. After being cleaned of centuries-old dust and grime, the Icon revealed an image of the Theotokos sitting on a throne, with the Infant Christ on Her knees, extending His hand in blessing. The Holy Virgin held a scepter in one hand and an orb in the other, and had a crown on Her head. With Her regal air and unusually stern visage, Her appearance was awesome.

Significantly, the Icon revealed itself at a time when the Russian Empire embarked on its apocalyptic course of destruction, while out of its depths came Holy Russia to gain the crown of martyrdom. The Theotokos’ red robe reflected the color of blood, while the Icon’s appearance on the day of the abdication of the last Tsar, and the Theotokos’ regal air with all the attributes of royal power signified that the Mother of God Herself took sovereignty over the Russian people who had just lost their monarch.

This article was revised with the permission of Transfiguration of our Lord Russian Orthodox Church. To read the original article, click here.

For another recounting of the story concerning the discovery of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God, click here.