On August 16 we commemorate the miraculous finding of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Saint Theodore. According to Tradition, the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God was painted by the Evangelist Luke, and resembles the famous Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
This icon received its name from Saint Alexander Nevsky’s father Great Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich (+ 1246), who in holy Baptism was named Theodore in honor of Saint Theodore Stratelates (February 8).
According to Tradition, his elder brother, Saint George (February 4), had found the icon in an old wooden chapel near the city of Gorodets. Later, the Gorodets monastery of Saint Theodore was built on this spot. When the citizens of Gorodets fled the city at the approach of Khan they did not have time to take the Icon with them.
In 1239 the residents of Kostroma saw the Icon being carried through their city by a radiant figure who resembed Saint Theodore Stratelates. The next day the Icon was found in a tree by Prince Basil of Kostroma, Saint Alexander Nevsky’s younger brother, while he was hunting in the forest. The Icon was placed in the church of Saint Theodore Stratelates, and many miracles took place before it.
Prince Yaroslav-Theodore became the Great Prince of Vladimir after his brother Saint George perished in battle with the Mongols at the Sita River. He gave the icon which he inherited from his brother to his own son, Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The wonderworking Theodore Icon of the Mother of God was constantly with Saint Alexander, and he often prayed before it. After Saint Alexander Nevsky died on November 14, 1263 at the monastery founded by his father, the icon was taken by his younger brother Basil.
Numerous copies of the Kostroma Theodore Icon were made, and one of the first was commissioned and brought to Moscow by Tsar Michael’s mother, the nun Martha. From the second half of the seventeenth century, various copies of the Theodore Icon were enlarged with scenes depicting events from the history of the wonderworking icon.
The Theodore Icon is two-sided. On the reverse side is the image of the holy Great Martyr Paraskeva, depicted in the splendid attire of a princess. It is believed that the image of Paraskeva on the reverse of the icon is connected with the wife of Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The first Romanov tsar was acclaimed as sovereign before the Theodore Icon in 1613.
The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Saint Theodore is also commemorated on March 14.