The Don Icon of the Mother of God was painted by Theophanes the Greek. On the day of the Kulikovo Battle (September 8, 1380, the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos), the Icon was with the Russian army, giving it help, but after the victory it was passed on by the Don Cossacks as a gift to their commander, Great Prince Demetrius of the Don (1363-1389), who then transferred it to Moscow.
The Icon at first was at the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral, and later at the Annuniciation Cathedral (the Icon is now in the Tretiakov State Gallery). In commemoration of the victory on the banks of the River Don it was called the Don Icon.
In the year 1591, the Crimean Khan Nuradin and his brother Murat-Girei invaded Russia with a numerous army. Advancing on Moscow, they positioned themselves on the Vorobiev hills. A church procession was made around Moscow with the Don Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in order to guard the city from the enemy.
On the day of battle it was in the military chapel in the ranks of the soldiers, and set the Tatars to flight. In 1592, in thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos for Her mercy manifest through the Don Icon, the Don monastery was founded at the very place where the icon had stood amid the soldiers. The wonderworking icon was placed in this monastery, and its feastday was established as August 19.
By established custom, once every four years His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia performs the rite of the preparation of Holy Chrism in the small cathedral in honor of the Don Icon of the Mother of God.