On Sunday, August 10, 2014, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia officiated at divine services celebrating the “Hodigitria Icon” of the Mother of God of Gethsemane Convent. He was joined by Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, clergymen of ROCOR and visiting clergy.
The History of the “Hodigitria Icon” of the Mother of God
In March of 1939, Abbess Maria of Gethsemane Convent received a letter from Metropolitan Elias of Lebanon in which he requested that she visit him in the city of Beirut.
So she went. Upon meeting her, he gave her the “Hodigitria Icon” of the Mother of God and said, “I must give this to you.” A document was attached to the icon, which stated:
This event took place on the fifth week of Great Lent. The icon was placed in Gethsemane Convent’s Church of St Mary Magdalene, and the senior spiritual father of the monastery, Fr Seraphim, performed a moleben before it. He was suffering from cancer, expecting his death at any day. Afterwards, he prayed some more that God grant him the mercy of living to see Pascha, and suddenly sensed healing. He survived for another eleven years. This was the first miracle occurring through the icon in Russian Gethsemane. Others followed: the very dark, almost black icon brightened by itself, then began to stream myrrh, and those who came to pray before it often received healing.
Akathists were read before the icon every week. Once, during such a reading, Metropolitan Elias suddenly appeared in the church. Having seen the renewed icon and the nuns praying before it on their knees, he said “Now I understand why I had to give the icon, and why She wished to be here.” He then explained: once in a dream, Great Martyr Barbara and Great Martyr Catherine appeared to him and told him that the Mother of God desires that her icon be given to Abbess Maria, but the archpastor ignored the words. The martyrs appeared to them in a dream a second time, and then he decided to give a different icon of the Hodigitria, which was likewise very ancient—he dearly wished to keep this icon for himself. But when the great martyrs appeared to him a third time, saying that the Mother of God was displeased by his disobedience, Vladyka inquired and learned about Abbess Maria, and wrote her a letter.
The feast day of the Hodigitria of Gethsemane is marked on July 27/August 10, and, in accordance with tradition, the holy icon is taken on a procession of the cross throughout the entire convent, held in turn by priests and the nuns.