As its first stop on what is projected to be a year-long journey to its original home at the Dormition Monastery in Tikhvin, Russia, the wonder-working icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God will be available for veneration during the 99th annual Pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon Monastery here May 23-26, 2003.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops will welcome the icon at the monastery entrance at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 23, marking the pilgrimage’s formal opening. Following the celebration of Vespers and Matins, a procession with the icon will make its way around the monastery church and the Akathist Hymn in honor of the icon will be sung.
“Tradition holds that the icon is one of several ascribed to the Evangelist Luke,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “In the fifth century, the icon was transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where it was enshrined in the Blachernae church built in its honor. It miraculously appeared over Lake Ladoga in northern Russia in 1383 and was ultimately enshrined in Tikhvin’s Dormition Monastery.”
The late Archbishop John [Garklavs] of Chicago became the icon’s guardian in 1944, while he was stationed in Riga, Latvia.
“Archbishop John brought the icon to the US in 1949, and it has remained in Chicago ever since,” Father Matusiak adds. “After Archbishop John’s death in the early 1980s, the Very Rev. Sergei Garklavs, the Archbishop’s adopted son, was entrusted with the icon’s care, with the provision that it be returned to the monastery in Tikhvin after the demise of the Soviet regime.”
According to the Very Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Archbishop John’s grandson and rector of Holy Trinity Church, East Meadow, NY, “Archbishop John always believed that the fate of the icon was in God’s providence and that the Theotokos herself was responsible for its miraculous journeys. It is our humble sense of that divine providence that we now feel that the time has come for the icon to be returned to the Tikhvin monastery, where it had been for over five centuries.”
At the recent Spring Session of the OCA’s Holy Synod of Bishops, Father Garklavs briefed the hierarchs on details of the icons return to Tikhvin, which is slated to coincide with the celebration of the icon’s feastday on the new calendar, June 26, 2004.
Faithful will have the rare opportunity to venerate the icon throughout the pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon Monastery. In addition, several Services of Thanksgiving will be celebrated before the icon. On Monday, May 26, a Service of Thanksgiving in the icon’s honor will be followed by the anointing of the sick, infirm, and all pilgrims.