There is little information about the history of this Icon, and the story of its appearance is shrouded in mystery. We only know that the now lost original was painted around 845. However, there is reason to believe its iconographic type was the same as the Hagiosoritissa Icon.1 Copies of the ancient Icon were widespread in Byzantium during the 12th to the 15th centuries; apparently one of these came from that area to Russia.
The original version of the Icon represented the Virgin without the Child, but she held a scroll in her hands. On this scroll were the All Holy Virgin’s petitions concerning us, which are addressed to her Son. This gives us hope that the “Fire-appearing” Icon of the Mother of God, like her other icons, will help and protect us from all misfortune and adversity. Therefore, we pray before the Icon for everything that exceeds the limits of our strength and requires God’s help.
The face of the Theotokos is turned toward her right side, and her garments are bright red red in color. This is why the Icon is called “Fire-appearing,” or “Visible in Fire.”
1 The name Hagiosoritissa, “of the holy soros” (chest), is derived from the chapel of the holy soros, which was built next to the Blachernae church by Emperor Leo I to house the robe of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was brought from Palestine in 473 (see July 2). The Panagia Hagiosoritissa Icon is associated with this shrine. This icon type shows the Mother of God with both hands raised in supplication, as depicted in the Deisis row of the iconostasis.