This last Sunday of May I thought it was fitting to share a bit of history about our Icon, Our Lady of Pochaiv. This information comes from our St. Stephen’s History book, although I have paraphrased it to fit this article.
Pochaiv is a holy site located in the Carpathian Mountains where many miracles have occurred through the intercession of the Mother of God. It is the “Lourdes” of Ukraine.
The first miracle at this site took place in 1193. A monk was praying when a pillar of fire appeared to him. When the flame died down, the Blessed Mother of God appeared. She left an imprint of her foot upon the rock and a miraculous spring of water began to flow from the place of the apparition. That water flows to this day. The miracle was taken as a sign that Mount Pochaiv was to be dedicated as a place for monastic life and a monastery was built.
The next miracles to take place were associated with an icon of the Virgin Mary, portrayed as the” Mother of Tender Mercy”. Near the end of the 16th century, a wealthy woman, Lady Hoyska, received the icon from a Greek bishop for her hospitality and generosity. Every so often when she prayed before the icon she noticed an unexplainable glow. Feeling that it might be miraculous she told her nephew, blind from birth, to pray before the icon asking for his sight. His prayers were answered and realizing its significance, Lady Hoyska donated the icon and much of the land surrounding Mount Pochaiv to the monastery. The icon became known as Our Lady of Pochaiv. It is interesting to note that the original icon had a border which included the images of several saints. One of the saints was St. Stephen the Protomartyr.
In 1979, The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC) officially chose Our Lady of Pochaiv to be the patroness of their organization. St. Stephen’s religious art committee was also inspired by the story of Our Lady of Pochaiv. The committee felt that her icon would be most suitable for creating an intimate devotional space for private prayer and the lighting of vigil candles. In 2008, a creative interpretation of the original Pochaiv icon was commissioned. It was blessed and installed in 2009.
(Donated by Clayton and Linda Woitas Family, “In honour of our parents and grandparents – Bill & Jean Sheremata and Edward & Marie Woitas”.
Laurie Kindrachuk, editor
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