CHICAGO, IL [DOM] – The first Great Feast of the Ecclesiastical New Year, the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, was celebrated with joy at the Diocesan Cathedral, Holy Trinity Cathedral. The celebration was lead by His Grace Bishop Daniel of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest.
Serving with His Grace was Priest Alexander Koranda, Cathedral Dean, Archpriest Tarasiy Maxim, Protodeacon Thomas Keith, and Deacon Paul Garklavs.
At the end of Liturgy, Bishop Daniel blessed the new kiot for the Holy Tikhvin Icon, which was commissioned in honor of the 130th year anniversary of founding of the cathedral community. The newly fashioned kiot was commissioned this past year and was made in Russia, and arrived in Chicago this past week in time for the feast. After blessing the kiot, His Grace offer a word on the feast reminding the faithful of the importance of the feasts of the Mother of God and her presence in our life’s.
“This project was done in honor of our 130th anniversary, but also in gratitude to the Mother of God for her care and love for us in the cathedral,” said Fr. Alexander. “This is such an important icon to the Orthodox Church, but is very personal for us on a local level due to her presence at the cathedral only several decades ago. She is still here with us and her prayers brings us comfort.”
According to ancient tradition, the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God is one of several painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. In the fifth century, the icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where it was enshrined in the Church of Blachernae, which was built especially for this purpose. In 1383, seventy years before the fall of Constantinople, fishermen on Lake Ladoga in the principality of Novgorod in northern Russia witnessed the icon miraculously hovering over the lake’s waters amidst a radiant light. Shortly thereafter, the icon appeared in several neighboring towns, including the village of Motchenitsy on the bank of the Tikhvinka River, before it finally appeared near the town of Tikhvin. A wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God was built on the site. In 1560, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a men’s monastery was established near the church. Over the centuries, the icon’s fame spread far and wide, with copies of the original adorning countless churches throughout Russia and beyond.
During the World War II German occupation, the Nazis removed the icon from the Tikhvin Monastery, from whence it was taken to Pskov and subsequently to Riga, Latvia. When Riga was evacuated, His Grace, Bishop John [Garklavs] of Riga — later Archbishop of Chicago and Minneapolis — in whose care the icon was placed, took the icon to Bavaria, where it was venerated by Orthodox faithful who had been displaced because of the war. While Soviet agents had spotted the icon, Bishop John was permitted to take the icon to the US in 1949, where it was venerated for many years at Chicago’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. After Archbishop John’s repose in 1982, Archpriest Sergei Garklavs, his adopted son and Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, became the icon’s guardian. In July 2004, the icon was returned to Russia and once again enshrined in the Tikhvin Monastery. In 2016, a reproduction of the icon, which was placed against the original, and brought from Russia by His Grace Bishop Mstislav of Tikhvin to express the Russian Church’s gratitude for the care that cathedral showed the original icon for many years. The current copy is revered by the diocese and venerated by Orthodox Christians from all over the Chicago metropolitan area.