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The History of the Oldest Belarussian Icon of the Theotokos

The Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God

The Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God

On November 28 (November 15 according to the Old Style calendar) we commemorate the Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Mother of God, a symbol of profound spiritual significance.

In the late 12th century, the Most Holy Theotokos bestowed Her grace upon us through an extraordinary icon — a small copper cross bearing the image of the Mother of God and the Divine Child on one side, and the Crucifixion on the other.

The events surrounding the appearance of this icon unfolded in the village of Kupyatichi, located in the Pinsk district, Belarus, over three hundred kilometres from Minsk.

17th century copy of the Kupyatitskaya Icon

17th century copy of the Kupyatitskaya Icon

The Discovery of the Icon

A young peasant girl named Anna was tending to her cattle in the forest when she noticed an unusual radiance between the trees. As she drew closer, she discovered a mysterious icon meticulously depicted in relief and shaped as a cross.

Tradition holds that, before sharing her discovery with anyone, Anna chose to complete her daily chores. She carried the found cross home, without uttering a word to anyone, and then returned to the forest to graze her cattle.

To her astonishment, the icon hidden within the tree still emitted its divine light. The girl hung the image around her neck, and that evening, she shared her experience with her father. However, when she went to reveal her discovery, the cross had vanished from her neck and her home. On their third trip to the site, Anna and her father once again found the image of the Mother of God refusing to part with the place of its apparition.

Painted copy of the Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Theotokos

Painted copy of the Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Theotokos

Construction of the Church

When the villagers learned about the miracle and witnessed the cross on the tree radiating an otherworldly light, they decided to erect a small wooden church in honour of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the very spot and enshrine the recovered relic within. Many people from the surrounding villages found solace there, but a sombre period befell the land when Tatars attacked the village and razed the church to the ground, leaving the heartbroken residents bereft.

The vicinity surrounding the church fell silent, and it appeared that all hope of recovering the icon was lost. Yet, many years later, a traveller named Joachim happened upon the site. Amidst the church's ruins, he beheld a brilliant light emanating from a mysterious cross-shaped icon. Joyfully, the villagers transported the rediscovered relic to the newly rebuilt village church, where Joachim decided to serve as an acolyte.

Foundation of the Holy Presentation Monastery

As word of the holy place where the Kupyatitskaya icon was discovered spread, devout believers congregated there. In 1629, the Holy Presentation Monastery was founded on this sacred ground. This new community became the dwelling place for true spiritual giants, including the holy martyrs Athanasius, hegumen of Brest, and Macarius, hegumen of Kanev and Pinsk.

Saint Macarius, hegumen of Kanev and Pinsk

Saint Macarius, hegumen of Kanev and Pinsk

Challenges and Departure

The monastery faced numerous trials. In the latter half of the 17th century, Catholic monks seized it, and later, they handed the monastery over to the Uniates. The Orthodox brethren left this sacred site in 1656, taking the Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Mother of God with them. It found a new abode in the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev, where it was positioned for veneration alongside local icons in the southern aisle dedicated to the Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

A multitude of faithful pilgrims flocked to honour the sacred icon. The image was held in such high regard that when, in the 19th century, the people of Kupyatichi sought the return of the icon, their plea was denied. Following that, the icon mysteriously vanished, and its whereabouts remain unknown. All traces of it were lost after the October Revolution of 1917.

St Nicholas Church, Kupyatichi, Pinsk district, Belarus

St Nicholas Church, Kupyatichi, Pinsk district, Belarus

Today, a 17th century copy of the icon is displayed at St. Nicholas Church in Kupyatichi. It was created in the 17th century and has been endowed with the grace of the original. In 2003 this copy of the Kupyatitskaya icon miraculously renewed itself.

If you would like to submit prayer requests for a service to the Most Holy Mother of God before the Kupyatitskaya Icon, please follow the link. Your intentions will be included in our prayers.
https://obitel-minsk.org/prayer-request

November 28, 2023
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Karen

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Karen

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