Icon of Tikhvin Mother of God to Visit New York City

With the blessing of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey, the wonder-working Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God will visit New York City March 11-14, 2004.

Clergy of the OCA’s New York City Deanery will meet the icon at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, 59 East Second Street (212-677-4664), Manhattan on the afternoon of Thursday, March 11. At 7:00 p.m. the same day a Service of Thanksgiving and the Akathist Hymn in honor of the icon will be celebrated. The cathedral will remain open until midnight to accommodate those wishing to pray before the icon.

From Friday, March 12 through Sunday, March 14, the icon will be available for veneration at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, 15 East 97 Street, Manhattan. The historic cathedral serves as the representation church of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Information on services at the cathedral may be obtained by calling 212/289-1915.

The Very Rev. Sergei Garklavs, the icon’s guardian, will accompany the icon during its final visit to New York. In July, the icon will be solemnly returned to the monastery in Tikhvin, Russia, after a 55-year sojourn in the US.

According to ancient tradition, the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God is one of several painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. In the fifth century the icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where it was enshrined in the Church of Blachernae, which was built especially for this purpose. In 1383, seventy years before the fall of Constantinople, fishermen on Lake Ladoga in the principality of Novgorod in northern Russia witnessed the icon miraculously hovering over the lake’s waters amidst a radiant light. Shortly after its miraculous appearance, the icon was discovered in several neighboring towns, including the village of Motchenitsy on the bank of the Tikhvinka River, before it finally appeared near the town of Tikhvin. A wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God was built on the site. In 1560, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a men’s monastery was established near the church. Over the centuries, the icon’s fame spread far and wide, with copies of the original adorning countless churches throughout Russia and beyond.

During the World War II German occupation, the Nazis removed the icon from the Tikhvin Monastery, from whence it was taken to Pskov and subsequently to Riga, Latvia. When Riga was evacuated, Bishop John [Garklavs] of Riga, in whose care the icon was placed, took the icon to Bavaria, where it was venerated by Orthodox faithful who had been displaced because of the war.

While Soviet agents had spotted the icon, Bishop John was permitted to take the icon to the US in 1949, where it was venerated for many years at the OCA’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. After the death of Archbishop John, Father Garklavs, his adopted son, became the icon’s guardian.

Archbishop John had hoped that conditions in Russia would make it possible for the icon to be returned to its original home in Tikhvin.