The Murom Icon of the Mother of God

This year, Bright Monday coincides with the feast of the Murom Icon of the Mother of God.

This icon was brought from Kiev to Murom by the Holy Prince Constantine of Murom (May 21) early in the XII century. For a long time, but quite unsuccessfully, Saint Constantine tried to attract the pagan inhabitants of the Murom principality to Christianity. His counsels met with no sympathy; moreover, they filled the people with hatred and contempt.

The more fanatical pagans plotted and swore to kill the Prince, or drive him out of Murom. When Constantine discovered the plot he prayed fervently to God. Then taking with him the Icon of the Mother of God, which he brought from Kiev, he went to confront the conspirators, trusting in the intercession and the help of the Queen of Heaven. When the pagans saw the Icon, they were so overcome with astonishment that they begged the Prince to forgive them. Then they agreed to be baptized into the Christian Faith.

The Murom icon is renowned for many other miracles, the most remarkable of which is the following. At the end of the XII century, Saint Basil was the Bishop of Murom. The people, mistakenly suspecting him of living in a way which was not appropriate for his high episcopal rank, intended to kill him. When Saint Basil learned of this decision, he asked his enemies to postpone his death until morning. All night long he prayed in the Church of Saints Boris and Gleb.

After serving the Divine Liturgy, he went to the temple of the Annunciation and there he served a Moleben before the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which he brought from Kiev. Placing all his hope in the Queen of Heaven, Saint Basil took the miraculous Icon and went to the Oke River. Removing his mantya, he spread it upon the water and stood upon it holding the Icon of the Mother of God. Suddenly there was a strong wind and Saint Basil was carried upstream against the current. Six hours later, the Bishop sailed to a place called Old Ryazan. There the people and the Prince received the Saint with honor. However, since Old Ryazan was poorly protected from the invasion of the Tatars, under whose yoke Russia was at that time, Saint Basil decided to look for another, safer place.

In 1291 he moved to New Ryazan, taking with him the Icon of the Mother of God. Since then, all his successors have lived in New Ryazan. Thus, with the abolition of the Murom cathedra, a new episcopal cathedra was established – that of New Ryazan.

Originally, the commemoration of the Murom-Ryazan Icon of the Mother of God took place on the second Sunday of the Apostle’s Fast, then in 1810 (1814?) the Holy Synod, at the request of the residents of Ryazan, changed the Feast Day to April 12, when Saint Basil is commemorated.

The Murom Icon bears a certain resemblance to the Yakhrom Icon (October 14), in which the Divine Child is cradled on His Mother’s left arm; His right hand touches her chin, while His left hand hangs down holding a scroll representing the Scriptures. In the Murom Icon, however, the head of the Divine Child leans back against His Mother’s shoulder, and the scroll is open to reveal the words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18).

The original Icon has not been preserved (all traces of it were lost when it was transferred from Murom to Ryazan). Frequently, copies of the Murom Icon were made, many of which are now found in various churches and museum collections. One of the copies was kept in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Murom until its destruction in the XX century.


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