Holy Belarus Orthodox Icon Mother of God - Zhirovickaya
Overall picture of icon.
Closeup of center stone.
The Icon of the Blessed Virgin of Zhirovichy
The 20th of May (New Style) is the day of gloriphying the icon of the Blessed Virgin of Zhirovichy, perhaps the most original in performance and the most glorified relic of the western slavs.
In the year 1470, in the Great Principality of Lithuania, nine versts from the city of Slonim, in the wood belonging to the orthodox Lithuanian magnate Alexander Soltan, shepherds, who were grazing their herd, have noticed the bright light shining through the branches of a pear-tree that was growing under the mountain above the stream... Having come closer, they saw on the tree a smal oval icon of the Blessed Virgin, that was engraved on a beautiful coloured stone.
Soltan has built a temple for the icon on the place of its apparation; near the temple a settlement appeared and the parish was formed. There the icon has been situaited for about ten years, uncscarcely exhaling blessed and benefitial gifts to everyone, who resorted to it with faith.
In 1560 the temple has burnt down, and, despite all efforts, they couldn't save the icon and thought that it had also been lost in flame. But the sacred icon was found again in miraculous way. Once some country children, coming back home from school, have suddenly seen on the mountain where the burned temple stood, an immensely beautiful Maid in resplendent light, sitting on a stone. As the childrean didn't dare to approach, they have told their relatives about it. And when those with the priest came to the mountain, approaching to the indicated stone,n from a distance they saw a candle burning on it; when they came closer to the stone, they've found the icon of the Blessed Virgin, and it wasn't damaged by the fire at all.
About the middle of XVI centurya monastery was found at this temple; it has become famous for strict self-sacrifice of its coenobites (monks). The congregation of this monastery was zealously defending Orthodoxy from the influence of latinism and union. In 1613 this monastery was captured by the union monks - basilians; it has been their property till 1839. In 1730, according to the traditions and cuctoms of the roman catholic Church, the solemn coronation of the Icon of Zhyrovichy took place. Being in the hands of uniats, the sacred image was deeply celebrated by both uniats and catholics. A great reverence to this icon was shown by the kings of Poland.
In 1839 the monastery was given back to the Orthodox and it became the first place of restoration of the orthodox Divine service in western rusiian territory. During the World War I the Icon of the Blessed Virgin of Zhirovichy was transported to Moscow, and in the beginning of 20th years it was brought back to the cloister. It was miraculously saved from bolshevistic inventory by the unknown patriots, and it was brought to the cloister by the first Gomel sovereign - the archibishop of Gomel Tikhon (Sharapov). He was afraid of countless check-ups and searches, so he hid the icon in the jar with jam.
The icon is engraved on jasper, its size is 43x56 mm.
Nowadays the icon is kept in the cathedral of the Holy Blessed Virgin's Assumption, in the monastery of Zhirovichy, the diocese of Minsk (Belarus), and is deeply esteemed for its divine help and protection.
Translation from Russian Filipp Kokosha.