Ilyin Chernigov and Chernigov Gethsemane Icons of the Mother of God

About the Ilyin-Chernigov and Chernigov-Gethsemane icons of the Mother of God.


Ilyin-Chernigov icon: April 16 old style/ April 29 new style.

Chernigov-Gethsemane icon: September 1 old style/ September 14 new style.

Many healings of mental illness and demonic possession happened from Chernigov icon. St. Ambrose of Optina suggests in one letter to bring a mad person to this icon.

The Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the year 1658 by the iconographer Gregory Dubensky, (Gennadius in monasticism). Tears flowed from the icon for eight days in 1662, from April 16-24.

In this same year Tatars descended upon Chernigov and devastated it. At midnight they burst into the Trinity monastery, went into the church, overturned all the icons and grabbed all the utensils, but the wonderworking icon and its ornaments remained untouched.

An invisible power held back the impious from the holy icon. Previously, the Queen of Heaven had not permitted the enemy to enter the cave of St Anthony of the Caves, where the brethren of the monastery had hidden. The Tatars fled, as though terrified by a vision.

The miracle of the Mother of God and Her Chernigov Icon was described by St Demetrius of Rostov (October 28 and September 21) in his book, THE BEDEWED FLEECE [Runo Oroshennoe]. Later on, St John of Tobolsk (June 10) also wrote about the Chernigov Icon.

A wonderworking copy of the Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God, in the Gethsemane skete of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, was glorified in the year 1869 (September 1).

Images of Ilyin-Chernigov icon:

24 miracles (by the number of hours in a day) from Ilyin-Chernigov icon of the Mother of God (based on the book of Saint Dimitry of Rostov “The bedewed fleece”).

Miracle 1.

In the reign of the Great Sovereign Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich, Autocrat of All the Great and Small and White Russia, when the archbishop throne in Chernigov was held by the Right Reverend Father Lazarus Baranovich, the Orthodox Archbishop of Chernigov, Novgorod and the entire North,  in the year 1662 Anno Domini, in the month of April, in the monastery of Elijah the Prophet (the Ilyin monastery), under the hegumen Zosima, from the 16th day to the 24th, the icon of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary was weeping in the church. All the people of the city of Chernigov watched this miracle with great horror.

Miracle 2.

Also in the year 1662, when the icon of the Mother of God was weeping, the Saracens (Muslims), by God's allowance for our sins, quietly crept up, captured many villages in the neighborhood of Chernigov. The monks of that Ilyin monastery, unaware of the barbarian invasion, sat in their monastery, and one night it was announced about the Tartars. Then they all went to the church and hid in the cave of our Saint Father Anthony.

At midnight, the Tatars attacked the monastery, and broke into the church, where there was a miracle-working icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, decorated with silver plates, according to the custom. The godless committed a lot of blasphemies: they threw down all the icons from their places to the ground, took all churchware...

But they did not touch the icon of the Mother of God which was standing at the local place of the iconostasis, nor the silver plates on it. Possibly as once for Prophet Elisha, so here the Lord God smote the heathens with blindness, so that being blind with their spiritual eyes, they would not sight with the bodily eyes either at the icon of the Mother of God, which we, looking at, see as the true Mother of God.

The power of God forbade them: let they not touch the Mental Kiot with unworthy hands.

And the heathens not only did not touch the icon, but also could not enter the cave where the monks were hiding, even though they attempted to do it so many times with lit splinter and drawn swords, however, they, being driven away, returned, as if thrown back by someone. It was the power of the Immaculate Virgin, protecting the monks, what prevented the Saracens from entering the cave.

Miracle 3 in 1667.

One woman named Vera (what means Faith - translator's note) from Mozirsk county (uyezd) was paralyzed for a whole year. Being dumb, she had a withered hand as well. Having reached the Ilyin monastery, on Saturday, the eve of Pentecost, the woman was healed during the singing of the Akathist before the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. First, she started to move the withered and motionless hand, and, showing it to all, stretched out her hand - and it was restored as whole as the other. Then, during the liturgy, at "It is truly meet", she started to speak with the silent tongue - and cried thanking the Most Blessed Virgin for the sudden healing.

Miracle 4 in 1671.

Someone of the nobles by the name of Penskiy, from outskirts of Bragin, had a wife Anna. For several years she had severe pain in her legs, she had to be carried; she could not make a single step herself. Doctors who treated the incurable disease have already become exhausted.

The man heard about the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God that was in the Ilyin monastery, and brought his wife there. She was carried to the church, and here, having prayed warmly with tears, she received a quick healing: she got up on her feet at once.

As the lame in Jerusalem described in Acts (Acts 3, 3), so this wife also had her feet and ankles strong again, and she jumped up, praising God and the Mother of God. And everyone was filled with amazement at what had happened to her.

Miracle 5 in 1672, the April month.

Some nun named Alexandra of the convent of the Holy Martyr Paraskeva in Chernigov, has long suffered from demonic delusion: many times terrible images appeared to her, rushing to her, seeking to kidnap her, forbidding her to pray. She endured all this with great fear, horror and dread, sometimes she screamed with fear and cried, so that people being with her were terrified and trembled. Finally, when she was exhausted with so many fears, and was only waiting  death, she was brought by the nuns to the Ilyin monastery, to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, for the Saturday Akathist. Here, by the grace of Our Lady Intercessor, all dreams, apparitions and fears left her and she returned, having the help of the Mother of God against the entire enemy's force, which no longer could cause her such suffering.

Miracle 6 in 1672.

One man named Lavrentiy, a resident of Chernigov, got mad and, as it commonly happens with such people, ran around the town and the field at night. One day he wanted to drown in the river, but was captured and brought to the miraculous icon in the Ilyin monastery, where during the prayer of the monks about him, the grace of the Mother of God gave him the intellect, sense and reason.

So, being healthy and sane, he returned home, praising the Mother of God Who brought him to reason.

Miracle 7.

Andrey Rachkevich, captain of the army of his Imperial Majesty, lived in Chernigov castle with his wife of the Roman faith.

His daughter was in shrouds because of grave illness, she was dumb and blind, her eyes were covered with scabs and swelled up with pus... Her father and mother, weeping, brought her, close to death, with faith to the Ilyin monastery and put before the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, warmly praying for the healing of their daughter.

At that time, the Akathist to the Mother of God was read as usual, it was Saturday. And so, at the reading, that girl, shrouded, began letting out a plaintive voice, and having freed the hands from the shrouds, began to wipe her eyes.

Parents rejoiced and, having lifted their daughter off the ground, found that scales of scabs fell away from the eyes, and the child became healthy all over. Seeing this, everyone who happened to be there gave glory to God and the Mother of God.

Miracle 8.

There is a village called Holyavin near Chernigov. A possessed man named Ermola was brought from this village to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God in the Ilyin monastery where, on Trinity Monday, after the liturgy, he was tied by the strong demonic forces in him on the porch of the church – and he was released from the demonic binding and entangling by the power of the Mother of God.

Miracle 9.

One man named Mikhail (Michael) came to the Ilyin monastery from the land of Polesia. He suffered from an evil spirit, but soon there by the power of the grace of the Mother of God, flowing from Her icon, he was healed from the disease, thanking his Benefactress, the Most Holy Mother of God for that, and he worked in obedience in the monastery for a long time.

Miracle 10.

A man named Demyan, who had the evil spirit that tortured him, having heard about the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God in the Ilyin monastery and about fast healings by the icon, took the road from Lithuania, from the outskirts of Minsk, carrying his misfortune, the evil tyrant, with him.

When he was close, opposite the church of Eletskaya icon of The Most Holy Mother of God, that was located between Chernigov and the Ilyin monastery (at that time that Eletskaya church was empty and there was nobody living near it), the demon began to torment him fiercely, to drag him along the ground, so that he foamed at the mouth.

It happened that monks walked the same way from the city to the monastery. Seeing such his torments, they took pity and having raised him, brought him to the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God in the Ilyin monastery. And as soon as he entered the church, at the same time the evil spirit left him. He became healthy by the grace of the Mother of God, and served in that monastery for a long time.

Miracle 11.

Vasiliy Boldakovskiy, Chernigov resident, had a servant named Klim. God allowed him to be tortured by a demon, I think, for his improvement, for He arranges everything for our benefit, punishing us with different penalties as Philoprogenitive Father, so that we would achieve chastity.

That demon-possessed Klim was lead to the monastery and tied to a pillar in the cave of Saint Anthony, located right near the church. There once lived the Saint himself, as it is narrated in the Kiev Caves Paterikon.

The enemy encouraged Izyaslav to drive Saint Anthony away with anger outside Kiev, what he achieved in some time. Prince Svyatoslav of Chernigov, being informed that his brother Izyaslav is angry at the Saint, sent for the Saint at night and took him to Chernigov. He, in turn, loved the place near the city in Boldin mountain and, having dug a cave, lived in it. Later, a monastery was founded here.

In the very cave tied Klim was freed from the demon by marvelous grace, which was poured out from above over this place by the prayers of the Virgin Mother of God and Saint Anthony.

Miracle 12 in 1674.

On Lazarus Saturday, someone called Parkhom was brought from Chernigov to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. In that Parkhom, the power of demons was so strong that four people could hardly keep and lead him: he pulled out of their hands with a terrible scream. But not for a long time the proud spirit boasted of his power, soon he fell in exhaustion and was driven away by the force of the Mother of God. The man was freed from the evil torturer, thanking his Lady Savior.

Miracle 13.

The maiden Mary, the daughter of Leontiy Polubotok, suffered from smallpox, and lost her sight because of many scabs. Sorrowful parents brought her from the city of Baturin to the Ilyin monastery to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. During the Saturday Akathist, when reading "Spotless, Undefiled ...", that Mary was given sight by the grace of the Mother of God. All the people were looking at this miracle and rejoiced about all the glorious wonders that happen from the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Miracle 14.

The daughter of Chernigov mayor Pavel Klevets, Tatiana, six years old, went blind in the right eye because of one case. Needless to say what a grief befell the parents, because who doesn’t know that when children are sick, the parents sick at heart with them as well.

The neighbors advised the mother to take the sick daughter to the miraculous icon of the Mother of God, where all the diseases are soon healed. Having taken the good advice, the mother led her daughter to the Saturday Akathist with faith two times: for the first time the eye began to see, for the second – the leukoma disappeared completely.
And the rejoicing parents with the daughter, who received a clear and healthy sight, thanked the Virgin Mother of God.

Miracle 15.

One woman, called Anna, from the town of Bragin, suffered greatly with the disease called "gostets" (rheumatism) for two years. She was healed by the grace of the Mother of God from Her miraculous icon, and she affirmed that to the bishop in such words: "I, poor Anna Rozsudovskaya, being punished by the Most High Lord with an illness for already two years, got to the miraculous icon of Our Most Blessed Virgin, which is at the Ilyin monastery, and, by the mercy of Almighty God, I began to regain the original health."

Miracle 16.

There is a village near Chernigov called Smolin. From that village, a possessed man named Stefan, strongly bound by the demon's power inside him, was brought to the Ilyin monastery to the Most Holy Mother of God. She covered him with Her protection to such extent that he was freed at once from the demon that tormented him and returned home healthy, praising his Lady Patroness and Intercessor.

Miracle 17.

Pavel Domontovich, a Chernigov layman, lying on a sick bed, barely alive, was brought to the Ilyin monastery on Friday to Saturday night on the first week of the Great Lent. Here, when local monks offered a diligent prayer to God and to the Mother of God for him, he got healthy soon. Such is Our Lady’s mercy healing diseases, for She offers prayers to Her Son and our God for us.

Miracle 18 in 1676.

Five-year old Feodor, son of a Chernigov layman Kostantiy, was down with a heavy fever for a long time. When various treatments did not help, and the weakness, having increased, almost exhausted him, his mournful parents entrusted their sick son to the Good Healer, the Most Blessed Virgin, to Whom they were praying with tears for the healing of their son during the Akathist before Her miraculous icon. That was what they received, for their child regained the health soon.

Miracle 19.

From the city of Sednev located near Chernigov, Kirillo Davidovich, the local inhabitant, sent to the Most Holy Mother of God in the Ilyin monastery an orphan, born in Poltava, named Tatiana. She was vexed with an unclean spirit, which is described about in the Gospel: "And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away" (Mark 9, 18). This Tatiana, once taken to the church, was immediately shaken by that spirit, and she fell to the ground, emitting foam, until, strongly shaking, the devil did not left her.

Miracle 20 in 1676, August 26.

There is a town in Chernigov area called Sosnitsa. One woman Agafya came from there to the Ilyin monastery and brought a coral necklace with seven silver crosses and two silver plates for the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. She confessed honestly about herself:

«I, she said, was lying for twelve weeks. In this my illness, a big and incurable ulcer appeared on my neck. I endured unspeakable pain from it and became desperate in my life, just as others who were with me did not hope to see me alive anymore and waited for the hour of death. But one day some neighbors who were here for worship and heard about miracles, told me: "Promise to pray to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God in Chernigov, at the monastery of Elijah the Prophet, and have faith that you will be healthy." Then at once I mentally, because my mouth could no longer speak, diligently called the Blessed Virgin for help, vowing to walk and worship the saint icon, which I heard about. And at the very same hour I got relief from the disease and soon I entirely recovered. And now - I fulfill my promise».

Miracle 21 in 1676, September 16.

Some of the parishioners of the monastery of Elijah the Prophet lived nearby. Among them, there was a woman named Marina. In 1676, during the week of Saint Thomas, she fell into a disease, from which the woman, who was mentioned in the Gospel, suffered, she “was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself" (Luke 13, 11). Anna, the mother of Marina, with a great cry bowed to the holy icon of the Immaculate Mother of God, begging her mercy to heal the crooked daughter, seriously ill, what she, though not quickly, but nevertheless received in full. At the eve of St. Martyr Hope feast of the same year, after the Elevation of the Precious Cross, her Marina was freed from her illness and immediately straightened herself up and everyone praised God and the Mother of God.

Miracle 22 in 1676.

A very sick beggar named Stefan lay before the gates of the Ilyin monastery. His legs were covered with terrible scabs, so that he could not walk at all.
Lying for a whole summer and asking alms from the incoming people, he reached the limit of the disease, wanting to die rather than live in such sorrow. Then he began to pray diligently to the Most Holy Mother of God to have mercy on him, promising to work in the monastery until death, if She gave him healing and strength.

And he was like purulent Lazarus, lying before the gate of the monastery and desiring a grain of the grace from the rich of mercy, mercy-giving Queen of Heaven and earth – and was not deprived of it. Having no hope to get health, he received healing and felt a renewed strength in him, and worked at the monastery, praising his Merciful Lady Healer.

Miracle 23 in 1676, August 14.

A commoner in Chernigov named Foma, by God's allowance for sins, went so mad because of the demonic delusion that he wanted to kill himself. One day he jumped into the well and sat down at the bottom, trying to drown in the water. Seeing this, people happening to be here, used power to take him out by his hair, tearing it by tufts. But he escaped from their hands and ran to the water to drown again. Being protected, he could not sleep at all for several days and nights, frightened with demonic dreams and ghosts.

This Foma, when he was brought to the Ilyin monastery to the miraculous icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, was healed at once: he accepted sense, reason, health and strength.

Miracle 24 in 1679, April 21.

In the village Yarilovichi, a man named Yermola had a son Timofey. On Monday of Bright Week this Timofey, a little boy of twelve years, died suddenly without any reason for death, for he was healthy, did not complain of anything, and played with other peers in the evening, but from morning till noon he was lying dead... Parents cried disconsolately for him.

At that time father Varfolomey, a hieromonk of the Ilyin monastery, happened to be there, and he advised to implore with faith the Most Holy Mother of God to resurrect their dead son, and to vow to pay worship to Her miraculous icon in the Ilyin monastery.

And parents, taking a good advice, mourned to the Mother of God, commending their son to Her with good vows and praying about the return of his spirit.

Glory to the wondrous and fast help of the Mother of God: the young man suddenly rose and spoke, and became healthy in front of all who saw it and who were horrified with this most glorious miracle, and soon the father took his son to the Ilyin monastery to worship to his great Benefactress before Her miraculous icon.

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the famed Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God (April 16), which was to be found at the Trinity-Ilyin monastery near Chernigov on Mount Boldina, and where in the eleventh century St Anthony of the Kiev Caves struggled in asceticism.

St Demetrius of Rostov described the miracles of this icon in his book THE BEDEWED FLEECE. He wrote in conclusion: "The end of the booklet, but not of the miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos, for who can count them?" The grace-bearing power of this icon is manifest also in its copies.

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the mid-eighteenth century and was passed on to the Trinity Sergiev Lavra in 1852 by Alexandra Grigorievna Philippova, who piously kept it for a quarter century. (This icon was given to her by the priest John Alekseev, who received it in turn from one of the monks of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra.)

On the advice of the head of the Lavra, Archimandrite Anthony (+ May 1, 1877), the icon was placed in the newly-consecrated cave church named for St Michael, Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, which was consecrated on October 27, 1851 by St Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (November 19), who assumed an active role in the building of the Gethsemane skete.

In this manner, the icon took in the currents of grace of all the history of the Russian Church, it acquired the blessing of St Anthony of the Caves, of St Sergius of Radonezh and of his parents Sts Cyril and Maria (September 28), and finally, of the ascetics of the nineteenth century. These spiritual connections providentially come forth through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.

It is remarkable that the first miracle of this icon was witnessed on the day of the Church New Year, September 1, 1869, when the twenty-eight-year-old peasant of Tula governance, Thekla Adrianova, was healed, after being completely crippled for nine years.

Living at the hostel by the caves, and then at the Lavra during the celebration of the Repose of St Sergius (September 25), Thekla recovered completely. St Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow (October 6 and March 31), learned of the miracle from his daughter the nun Polyxeni, treasurer of the Borisov wilderness monastery. On the feast of St Sergius, he himself met with Thekla and asked her about the details of the healing. On September 26, 1869 St Innocent arrived at the Gethsemane skete and gave the blessing for a Molieben to be served before the glorified icon, while he himself prayed with tears.

By September 26 three healings had occurred already, and a whole series of miracles in November of that same year. The fame of the icon of the Mother of God spread with unusual swiftness. Exhausted by suffering and sickness, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, people from every class of society came with firm faith to the wonderworking icon, and the mercy of God did not forsake them.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100 miracles had been recorded. By its great esteem the icon benefited the ascetics of the Gethsemane skete: the schemamonk Philip (+ May 18, 1868), the founder of the cave monastery, and his three sons, the hieroschemamonks Ignatius (+ 1900), Porphyrius (+ 1905 ?) and Basil (+ April 1, 1915). They preserved accounts of the deep love, which the hieromonk Elder Isidore (+ February 3, 1908) displayed for the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon.

The initial celebration of the icon was established on April 16, on the day when Ilyin-Cherigov icon was celebrated. Later, it was transferred to September 1, the day of its glorification. At the present time there are copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane icon at Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. They are found in the temple of St Sergius, in the monastery trapeza, and in the portico of the Trinity cathedral, painted by Elders of the Gethsemane skete and the Zosimov wilderness monastery.

Images of Chernigov-Gethsemane icon: