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Akhtyrskaya Icon of the Mother of God, Akhtyrka, Kharkov, Russia

Commemorated on July 20
Akhtyrskaya Icon of the Mother of God, Akhtyrka, Kharkov, Russia
In the town of Akhtyrka (Kharkov province), there had long been a parish church dedicated to the Protection of the Most-pure Theotokos. In 1739, a pious and virtuous priest named Fr. Daniel Vasiliev was serving at that church. Once, at the approach of the harvest, he was mowing the grass in his garden. He had hardly swung the scythe twice before he saw in the grass an icon of the Mother of God, praying before the crucified Lord Jesus Christ, and shining with an indescribable light. In pious awe, Fr. Daniel signed himself with the sign of the Cross, and began to read prayers to the Most-holy Theotokos. After fervently praying and after making three great prostrations before the image of the Most Holy Theotokos, he carried it into his house and placed it in an appropriate place. This icon remained in the priest’s home for three years. Members of his household noticed that some inexplicable sensation of fear made it impossible to spend the night in the room in which the icon rested. Three years later, on the feast of the Protection, the priest entered the room and, just as before, was unexpectedly stunned by a bright light emanating from the icon. This apparition was repeated many times, but he would pray and tell no one about it.
 
Once while dozing, he dreamed of the Mother of God, and heard her direct that he clean the dust from the icon which he had discovered, wash the icon with clean water, and then drape a cover over the icon. The priest awoke and hurried to wipe the dust from the icon and to wash it with clean water. Intending to later pour the water into the river, he put the water into a container. He again fell asleep, and in a dream saw himself carrying that container of water towards the river; along the way he saw the Most-holy Theotokos, who said to him: “Go home and keep this water; it will heal all those who suffer from the fever.” The priest had a daughter who for a long time had suffered with fever. Awaking, he gave her some of the water to drink, and she immediately was healed. Thereafter, all those who suffered with fever would run to the Most-holy Theotokos, and as soon as they drank of the water from her icon, would be healed.
 
When the priest noticed that little wounds had begun to appear in the painted surface of the icon, he asked an iconographer friend to restore the icon. The iconographer took the holy icon home, and put it in a fitting place. Two nights later, when he had decided to to begin work on the icon, he suddenly heard a voice coming from the icon, saying” Get up, it is time for you to take the icon back to the place from which you had taken it. You cannot improve it.” In terror, the iconographer arose, reverently took the icon, and at dawn took it to the priest and told him of the voice which he had heard. Recognizing the miraculous signs coming from the icon, the priest decided that it was best to take it to his parish church. There the icon shone forth with the power of working miracles.
 
John, the iconographer who had been given the icon for restoration, had a child who suffered from the fever. Learning of the miraculous effect of the water from the Akhtyra icon of the Theotokos, he washed the icon, and as soon as he had given the sick child a drink of that water, his sickness left him.
 
Many miracles were wrought before the miraculous icon according to the faith of those who ran to its grace-filled power. One of these is especially noteworthy because of the veracity of its historical documentation. Elizabeth, the ill wife of General Vedel, came to Akhtyrka and fervently prayed before the icon of the Theotokos that she might be healed. The next night she saw the Mother of God in a dream, and heard her direction: “You ask in vain for healing from illness. You do not need that. You will soon depart from life. Give all of your possessions to the churches and to the poor. That sacrifice will be for the good of your soul.” The ill one answered, “O Mother of God, I have children, and if I give away my estate, my children will be left in extreme poverty and need.” In response, the Mother of God said, “Do not be concerned for your children. I will be their eternal protectress.” Then, the Mother of God became invisible. The ill woman, waking from her sleep, called summoned her spiritual father, told him of the apparition, and five days later, as told to her by the Mother of God, peacefully reposed. Empress Catherine II, learning of the miraculous protection promised to the children of the late Mrs. Vedel, took her two daughters into her care, and later gave them in marriage, one to Count Palen, the other to Count Chernishev.
 
This miraculous icon used to be in the cathedral church of the town of Akhtyrka, Kharkov province.

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