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ROC honors Icon of Our Lady of the Sign


2002-12-10 11:27     * RUSSIA * RELIGION * HOLIDAY *

MOSCOW, December 10, 2002. /From RIA Novosti correspondent Olga
Lipich/--The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Tuesday, December 10 as a
holiday of an Icon of the Holy Virgin that is known as "The Sign." The icon
shows the Holy Virgin sitting with Her hands lifted up in prayer. The Holy
Child, Emmanuel the Savior, is depicted on Her bosom, against the
background of a round shield or sphere.

This particular way of depicting the Holy Virgin is known as one of Her
earliest images. In the burial-vault of St. Agnes of Rome, there is an
image of the Holy Virgin with Her hands outstretched in prayer, with the
Holy Child sitting on Her knees. This image dates back to the 4th century.

In Rus, such images of the Holy Virgin first appeared in the 11th century.
They were called "The Sign" after the miraculous Sign from the Novgorod
Icon, which happened in 1170.

That was the year when joint forces of Russian appanage princes besieged
the northwestern city of Veliky Novgorod. The inhabitants had no hope, and
they spent night and day praying for the rescue of their home city. On the
third night, Archbishop of Novgorod Elijah heard a voice from heaven
commanding him to fetch an icon of the Holy Virgin from the Church of the
Transfiguration of the Savior in Ilyina Street and put it on the city wall.
While the icon was being moved, the besiegers sent a thousand arrows into
the religious procession, and one of them pierced the painted face of the
Holy Virgin. Tears came pouring out of Her eyes, and She turned Her face to
the city.

Immediately after this miraculous sign, the enemy's troops were suddenly
struck with such fear that they began shooting arrows into each other,
while the residents of Novgorod rushed to attack and won.
To honor the miraculous intercession of the Holy Virgin, Archbishop Elijah
declared a holiday of the icon, which has been celebrated by the Russian
Church ever since.



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