The “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God in the Tikhvin Chapel of the glass factory in St. Petersburg (the icon “with coins” or “with pennies.”)
Remembered by the Church on July 23.
There are several disparate accounts of how the Icon came to be in the Tikhvin Chapel. According to the first, the Icon was donated by S.I. Matveev, a merchant with a business relationship with the factory. The Icon belonged to his mother, nee Kurakina; the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon came into their family after being fished out of the Neva River . According to the second version, the Icon came to rest on the river shore at the place where the Chapel had been built. According to a third account, a certain Ladoga merchant barely escaped death in a storm on the Neva , then donated the Icon to the Chapel. It is quite probable that these traditional accounts initially pertained to the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, but later came to be attributed to the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon.
On July 23, 1888, thunderstorms developed in St. Petersburg and its surrounding area. A powerful lightning bolt struck the Chapel at the glass factory, setting fire to its interior walls, burning the icons, and utterly shattering the collection box, but not touching the Icon of the Mother of God. The thunder clap knocked the Icon to the floor. At the same moment, the image of the Mother of God, which time and smoke had severely darkened, seemed to lighten and become renewed. Moreover, somehow twelve copper coins from the collection box affixed themselves to various spots on the Icon.
By that same evening, news of the miraculous preservation of the Icon had spread throughout the capital, and the next day great multitudes of people, amazed at the miraculous sign of God’s mercy, surrounded the chapel from morning till night. Each day there were ever greater numbers of the faithful. From St. Petersburg , word of the Holy Icon spread throughout Russia , and from every point of the compass, faithful came to pray. Through God’s mercy, the Icon of the Mother of God soon gained renown for working miracles.
On October 6, 1890, everyone praying in the chapel was eyewitnesses to the amazing healing of Nikolai Gratchev, a 14-year-old who suffered from seizures and paralysis of the arms. Physicians had concluded that his long-standing illness was incurable. It so happened that the sick boy’s room was suddenly brightly illuminated with an unearthly light, and the youth saw the Most-immaculate Virgin, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and a certain Holy Hierarch wearing a white klobuk [monastic headgear]. The Mother of God ordered the youth to go to the chapel, and said that after doing so, he would be healed. The youth did as he had been directed. He came to the chapel, venerated the Icon, and his seizure disorder left him. His arms regained their strength, and from that moment, he was completely healthy.
The Icon depicts the Most-immaculate Virgin at full-length, with arms stretched outward. Her face is turned somewhat to the left. Her outer garments are dark blue, while the inner garments are dark red. Her head is covered with a white shawl, and ringed by a golden nimbus. In the clouds above her, the Savior sits enthroned, holding the Holy Gospels in His left hand, and blessing with His right. On either side are depicted Angels and people who are suffering.
The finding and miraculous renewal of a copy of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon With Coins” in St Petersburg in 1996.
On August 2, 1996, members of the community of the Church of Christ ’s Glorious Resurrection at the entrance to the Smolensk Cemetery were clearing the area in preparation for repairs and restoration work (the church had just been turned over to the diocese). They were tearing down garages near the Western entrance to the church, had removed the foundation, and were clearing the property when they saw a darkened board. The earthmover’s scoop gouged it deeply, almost breaking it in half. Alexei A., a woodworker at the metokhion lifted up the board. On the back there was a barely discernible, but recognizable depiction of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon. Nikolai Bondarev, administrator of the metokhion, took the Icon home to wash it in rose oil. When he took it out, he was amazed to see that it had become considerably brighter. Over the course of the next six months, it renewed itself even more.
The story of the finding of the Holy Icon was reflected in a special affidavit signed by Deacon Nikolai and those who served at the metokhion. The Icon is a lithograph measuring 28 х 22 cm, on a thin fabric mounted to a wooden board stabilized with shponki [wooden slats inserted into grooves cut into the back of the icon mounting board, to minimize warping]. The edges show some damage, there are some little holes made by insect larvae, and some details are slightly worn, but overall, the Icon, after lying in the damp earth for who knows how long with no protection from the elements, had been preserved whole. An inscription on the Icon attests to the fact that it is an exact copy of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in the chapel at the glass factory in St. Petersburg . This is how it appeared during a thunderstorm on July 23, 1888. On that day, lightning struck the collection box, and small coins miraculously affixed themselves to the Icon, which later manifested a multitude of other miracles and healings, and which now is in the Church of the Holy Trinity known as the “Kulitch and Pascha” church.
The finding of the image in 1996 took place three days before the Feastday of this Icon (23 July/5 August). Another coincidence that was no accident: Literally several meters from the place where it had appeared is the memorial over the grave of Archpriest Alexander Mikhailovitch Ivanov, (2/13/1857 – 1/4/1912) – rector of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church at the glass factory, where the miraculous and revered Icon of the Theotokos “with coins” had been.