The wonderworking Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon of Our Lady Mother of God was glorified in the year 1688. Euphymia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim (1674-1690), lived at Moscow and suffered from an incurable illness for a long time. One morning during a time of prayer she heard a voice say, “Euphymia! Go to the temple of the Transfiguration of My Son; there you will find an icon called the Joy of All Who Sorrow. Have the priest celebrate a Molieben with the blessing of water, and you will receive healing from sickness.” Euphymia did as she was directed by the Most Holy Theotokos*, and she was healed. This occurred on October 24, 1688.
The Monastery Chapel Icon
Our chapel is graced with an antique icon of Our Lady Joy of All Who Sorrow that was taken from the former Soviet Union to Austria by retreating Nazi soldiers during the Second World War, finally finding its home with our community in Michigan. The icon occupies a place of honor in the chapel and is held in greatest reverence and veneration.
The design of this icon depicts the Theotokos, a most beautiful blossom of heaven, standing among the flowers of paradise. Her Son is visible above her in the clouds, the King of heaven and earth. Along both sides of the icon, framing the Mother of God, are suppliants (us), asking for her intercession. She stands with her arms spread open and her head tilted as if listening. The tenderness and kindness of a loving mother are evident in her face. She stands in paradise and yet among us.
Icons of Our Lady Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow
Metropolitan Neophytus, a bishop belonging to the see of Constantinople, was traveling through Volhynia in Ukraine where he was given hospitality by a pious woman, Anna Goyskaya. The bishop gave this woman an icon of the holy Theotokos, which began to work miracles, including the healing of her blind brother.
In 1597 the icon was given to the monks residing in Pochaev near the border of Galicia, where the Mother of God had appeared in 1340, leaving an imprint of her footprint in the rock, from which a stream gushed forth. In 1675 when the Lavra of Pochaev was besieged by the Moslem Turks, it was saved by the miraculous intervention of the Mother of God through her wonderworking icon.
When the Lavra of Pochaev came under control of the Eastern Rite Catholic Church for over a century, miracles continued to be worked through the holy icon. Since its return to the Orthodox Catholic Church in 1831, the icon has been a grace-bestowing support for Orthodox Christians, especially those in western Ukraine and the Carpathian region.
As with so many other icons of the Theotokos, wonderworking copies of this icon have been found throughout Orthodox Rus, each with its own history and moving collection of miracles. In this icon, the most holy Mother of God is depicted standing full stature sometimes with and sometimes without the Divine Child in her arms; she is surrounded by all manner of the sick and the suffering, to whom Angels of the Lord bear gifts of mercy, consolation, and suitable aid from the most holy Theotokos.
The icon Joy of All Who Sorrow was inspired by the hymn of the same name. Through one copy of this icon, the sister of Patriarch Joachim was healed at the end of the seventeenth century in Moscow, from which time the feast was established.
Another copy of the icon was found in Saint Petersburg; on July 23, 1888, during the severe thunderstorm, lightning struck a chapel at a glass factory, burning the interior walls of the church, but leaving the icon unsinged. From the violent disturbance of the air, the icon was knocked to the floor, the poor-box broke open, and twelve copper coins adhered to the icon in various places; afterwards many miracles were worked by the grace of the holy icon.
The Icon’s Theology
The theology in this icon depicts the Theotokos as also being our mother, who feels our pain. It is believed, by Orthodox Catholic Christians, that she intercedes for us, bringing our pain into her Son’s presence. She is praying our prayers with love, bringing our needs into the unique relationship that a mother shares with her children. She is our joy, because in her love she hears us. Her unceasing intercession and her limitless love help heal our sorrows.
Hymns in Honor of Our Lady Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow
*Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος (transliterated Theotókos); Syriac-Aramaic:(transliterated: Yoldath Alloho); Slavonic: Богородица (transliterated: Bogoroditsa); Latin: Mater Dei) is the Greek title of Mary, the Mother of God used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include “God-bearer”, “Birth-Giver of God” and “the one who gives birth to God.” Less literal translations include “Mother of God.”