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Icon of the Mother of God "Rescuer of the Drowning"


Commemorated on December 20

The village of Lenkovo near Novgorod, Russia once had a church dedicated to the Synaxis of the Most-holy Theotokos, which is why the place is still known as “Bogoroditchniy” (meaning “belonging to the Theotokos”). During the Polish incursion in the 17th century, the town of Lenkovo and its church were completely destroyed. A new church, dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael, was erected, and housed the miraculous Icon of the Mother of God. According to tradition, the Icon of the Mother of God was brought to this church from the former Church of the Theotokos. The historical account of its appearance and glorification related the following.

In the Desno River, directly across from the hill on which the church was later built, there was an extremely dangerous whirlpool which even the most experienced sailors found difficult to cross. Quite often, enormous barges loaded down with grain would become victims of the abyss: the powerful swirling waters would carry them and their passengers away. It was at that dangerous site that the Icon of the Mother of God came to rest on the riverbank and was found. The pious believers, who discovered the Most-immaculate Icon, installed it on a site facing the whirlpool. Some time later, the Church of the Theotokos came into being on that site. Ever since that time, those who journeyed on the Desno River made it their practice to stop at the Village of Lenkovo, go ashore and enter the church. After fervent prayer before the Icon of the Mother of God, they would cast lots to see who would remain on board the barge and steer it across the dangerous whirlpool. Their companions would continue on foot. Evidently, the good will of the Mother of God rested on the site ever since the nearby church in her name was erected. It was noted that from the time of the appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God, mishaps to sailors were rare, and later completely ceased.

The Icon of the Most-Immaculate Lady was greatly revered by the populace in the area of Lenkovo, and drew a multitude of faithful, especially those who often had to endure the perils of the waters, to pray before it.

The “Rescuer of the Drowning” Icon of the Mother of God, which was famous for many other miracles, came to be revered not only in area of Lenkovo, but far beyond, especially in large port cities throughout Russia.

In the 18th century, the Icon was transferred to the Monastery of the Savior’s Transfiguration, where it remained until the Russian Revolution in 1917. History does not record what happened to the Miraculous Icon.

On May 22, 2003, the Church of the “Unexpected Joy” Icon of the Mother of God was consecrated. After this event, Sergei Babushkin, a pious Christian, gave the rector of the monastery an antique exact copy of the Lenkovo Icon of the Mother of God. The restored antique copy of the Miraculous “Rescuer of the Drowning” Icon once again returned to Novgorod to the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior. It was with the return of the Icon that the revival of the monastery began.

By permission of