Reigning Icon of the Mother of God
Canadian Orthodox Herald No. 6 July 1999
from Metropolitan Vitaly
The Reigning Icon of the Mother of God
beloved children of the Russian Orthdoox Church Outside Russia
At the very beginning of the Russian Revolution an icon appeared in a miraculous fashion - an icon which itself worked miracles. This icon is called the "Reigning" icon. It was found in a storage area, as if it had been forgotten, but nevertheless it proved to be miraculous. This icon depicts, in the first place, the Lord of Sabaoth in the high place, and on a throne, the Mother of God, with the crown of the Russian Tsars resting on Her head. In one of her hands is a sceptre, and in the other an orb, while on her knees is seated an Infant, the Saviour. I advise everyone to obtain this icon and have it in their house. This icon appeared at the beginning of the Revolution and then, as it were, mystically assumed the Royal authority of the Tsars over Russia and over the unfortunate Russian people. This icon should be in every Orthodox Russian family, as it is one of great significance, for it tells us of many things; besides this, whatever happens through God's will is always providential. So this is why I am advising everyone to have this icon in their homes. It serves to remind us that the Mother of God has taken upon herself the regal authority over Russia, and that She will always help every person who is faithful to Orthodox Russia in whatever they do in life.
Just as the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God became the Odigitria - that is to say, the Guide - of all the Russian people who fled from the godless rule, so also the Reigning lcon is one of the principal icons of our emigration. Our Russian emigration is far from being of a political nature, as many would have us believe, but it is quite the opposite: our emigration is of a religious, or spiritual nature. I know that in many countries there are citizens who are dissatisfied with the conditions of life in their own country, and then emigrate to other countries, as in the past Italians, Germans, Poles and other peoples have done. Many of them have found refuge in America. These people are economic emigrants, but we are so for spiritual reasons, since we left the borders of Russia because we were not in agreement with the atheistic government which seized power in our Ilomeland, with its chief aim being to destroy the Orthodox faith in Russia. This was a unique occurrence, which was correctly evaluated at the time by a leading journalist in Germany by the name of Braun, who wrote an excellent article about it. In it he said that very few people had remarked on what an incredible thing that had happened in Europe, when the flower of the spiritual emigration from Russia made its appearance in every country of Europe. This was a major event of its time, and to this day has not been properly evaluated and understood for what it was.
So once again I will repeat: we are not a political emigration, but we are a spiritual one, and the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God bears witness to this, and so it should be in every rightly believing Russian home. Amen.
From "Parish Life," newsleller of the Cathedral of SI. John the Baptist in Washirtgton. DC. March, 1991
More about the "Reigning Icon"
The Reigning ("Derzhavnaya") Icon of the Mother of God revealed itself to the Russian Orthodox people on 2/l5 March 1917, exactly eighty years ago, in the village of Kolomenskoye, near Moscow.
The appearance of the Reigning Icon in l9l7 occurred in two ways: first it was a renovation (i.e. miraculous renewal of a darkened icon), and second it was the miraculous discovery of the old icon in the basement of the Church of the Ascension in the village of Kolomenskoye. At the urging of, and together with, a peasant named Evdokia Adrianova, Father Nicholas Likhachcv, the rector of the church, began to search for the icon of the Mother of God. Adnanova, who came from the village of Pererva in the Borovitsk district of the ZhiroshkInsk area, was directed in her dreams to go to the village of Kolomenskoye in order to find the icon of the Mother of God.
At first Adrianova herself did not dare to act, and waited. The second time, after fervent prayer for help and explanation of her dream, Adrianova saw in her sleep a white church, and she recognized enthroned within it a majestic woman, the Queen of Heaven. She was unable to see the face of the Theotokos, but felt in her heart who it was. A second apparition occurred on 26 February, and Adrianova clearly understood that she must no longer tarry. While, in her first dream on 13 February, she had seen nothing, she heard the words. "There is in the village of Kolomenskoye a large, black icon. It must be taken, made beautiful. Let prayers be said."
Comparing the first and second apparitions, she knew exactly where she must go and what white church to seek out. After preparing herself through repentance, confession and communing of the Holy Gifts, the handmaiden of God Evdokia set out on her journey.
On 2 March 19l7. Adrianova found the white church which she had seen in her dream. The rector, whom she approached [with her request] made no objection to her examining all of the icons in the church. He accompanied her, but probably did not lend any credence to her dream.
Finding nothing resembling the object of the search in the church, Father Nicholas suggested that she look at the icons which for various reasons had been stored in the church basement. From among those icons, she selected the largest, an icon covered with centuries of dust. They decided to wash this dust-covered icon, and, to the astonishment of all, on it appeared the image of the Mother of God, seated upon a throne. With further cleaning of the icon, it became evident that on the knees of the Mother of God was the lnfant-Christ. His hand extended in blessing. Our Lady held a scepter in one hand, an orb in the other, and upon her head was it crown. The shoulders of the Mother of God were draped with a red mantia or royal purple robe with a green lining. Her appearance was astonishing. While the Mother of God had an unusually severe countenance. she had a regal appearance.
Adrianova recognized in this icon the vision which she had had in her dream. She fell to the ground and bowed down before Our Lady. At her request, the priest immediately served a moleben and akathist before the newly-discovered icon of the Mother of God, while Adrianova tearfully thanked Our Lady for enabling her to find her icon.
Word of the newly-found icon quickly spread, and not only throughout the village of Kolomenskoye. Other people, coming from Moscow and from other places to pray at the Church of the Ascension, received abundant assistance from the Mother of God.
In issue No. 18 of the "Sergius Leaflets" was related the coming of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God to the Saints Mary and Manha Convent in Moscow, where the icon was met with great solemnity by the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fyodorovna [the New-martyr Elizabeth] and the other sisters.
In the same year, the icon was taken to factories and industrial plants, as well as to other churches. Only on Sundays and feast days did it remain in the village of Kolomenskoye.
From several sources of information, it has been established that until 1812 the Reigning lcon of the Mother of God belonged to the women's monastery of the Ascension in Moscow, and that in the year of Napoleon's attack upon Moscow, it was hidden in the village of Kolomenskoye, and apparently was forgotten there over the course of 105 years, until it revealed itself at the moment appointed by Our Lord God.
One must also note the fact that this icon was discovered at a unique point in history – i.e., at the beginning of Russian's time of troubles. The day of its appearance coincided with the day of abdication of the last tsar. The regal image, with scepter and orb, underscored, as it were, the fact that Our Lady had taken it upon herself to care for and nourish the faithful children of the Russian Church. Significant as well was the mantle of the Theotokos, crimson, as if reflecting the color of blood.... •