The Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” is a Theotokos image without a single compositional pattern which is encountered in many versions. Many icons of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” are miraculous. The Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” iconography was based on the Roman Catholic images of the Holy Virgin.
The icons of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” appeared not later than in the 1680s. Russian chronicles tell that in 1683 the royal artist I.A.Bezmin painted an icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow” but say nothing the icon composition. A similar icon was also housed in the St. Alexis Monastery in Arzamas and, according to a 1686 inventory, featured the Mother of God with two angels.
The icon became widespread after an icon of Joy of All Who Sorrow from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street in Moscow miraculously healed in 1688 a sister of the Patriarch Joachim Euphimia Petrovna Papina from a wound in her side. Right after the veneration, the liturgy and the tale were written for the icon.
This miraculous icon (didn’t survive) was obviously painted in 1685 – the year when the construction of the stone Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street had been completed. Nobody knows today how the icon looked like. However, a 1862 lithography reproduced the icon of “Joy of All Who Sorrow” that the Princess Natalia Alexeevna, sister of Peter the Great, took with her when the court was moving from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1711 (didn’t survive). According to some accounts, this is the very icon that miraculously healed Euphimia Papina, while other sources maintain that this is the exact copy of the miraculous icon. On this lithography, the icon is reproduced as being framed in a precious oklad, which, in the opinion of N.I.Komashko, precisely repeats the icon composition. It is depicted against a shining glory and is flanked by angels. The Savior is shown blessing with the right hand and holding beads in his left. The Mother of God is also portrayed holding beads with her right hand. Her hand is turned left and inclined slightly downwards. The Mother of God stands on the Moon, with her head surmounted by the crown. Above the Mother of God is the Lord Sabaoth with the half-figures of saints on the margins. This composition is based on a Roman Catholic image of the Mother of God “Madonna del Rosario” (Madonna with beads).
Another icon, painted by Aleksei Kvashnin in 1710, is also a precise replica of the icon from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka street (now kept in the Andrei Rublev Museum collections). This icon, just as the icon taken by the Princess Natalia Alexeevna, features a full-length image of the Mother of God with the Child Christ on her left hand against the background of the shining glory in the crown. Her head is also turned left and slightly downwards. On this particular icon, however, the Theotokos is portrayed without beads, Her right hand is shown in a blessing gesture pointed to the Child Christ. The Mother of God is shown standing on the clouds. In the upper part of the icon is an image of the Synthronos (The New Testament Trinity), in the bottom field is a cartouche with the kondak inscribed thereupon. However, what distinguishes the Kvashnin replica from the lithography is three groups of sufferers standing to either side of the Mother of God, abom whom are four full-figures of saints: Sergius of Radonezh, Theodor Sykeon, Gregory the Decapolite and Barlaam of Khutyn. Above the saints were the images of two saints with ripidises, two more angels are comforting the sufferers.
N.I.Komashko suggests that the miraculous icon had the same composition as the one taken by Princess Natalia Alexeevna to St. Petersburg. Alexis Kvashnin is believed to have copied another icon that had been painted for the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street soon after the miraculous healing of Euphimia Papina. The original composition was changed by adding more sufferers and removing beads as a Roman Catholic attribute.
The images of sufferers in Russian art have been known since the 17th century from the icons of the Theotokos Life-Giving Spring which became widespread under Patriarch Nikon. The groups of sufferers are also included in the composition entitled The Icon of Tenderness and Visitation of Sufferers dating back to the 1680s. The icon featured the Mother of God without the Child Christ, her hands spread apart. This is exactly the iconographic version that the iconographer Semyon Kholmogorets reproduced on one of the border scenes illustrating the Akathist on the icons commissioned in the 1680s by Yaroslavl churches. He portrayed the Mother of God holding a staff and a scroll in hands against a white background with flowers symbolizing paradise. Apart from that, at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries the Armory masters created a number of big-size icons also portraying sufferers. On these icons the Mother of God is shown in various iconographic types deriving from Roman Catholic depictions of the Theotokos: the Mother of God enthroned; the Mother of God with the Child Christ seated upon Her crossed hands; several versions of the full-length figure of the Child Christ; the Mother of God ascending to heavens etc. The inclusion of the sufferers into the Joy of All Who Sorrow icon resulted in the copies of some of these large icons and those entitled The Icon of Tenderness and Visitation of Sufferers being also named Joy of All Who Sorrow.
Lacking a single compositional scheme, this iconographic version was very widespread in Russian art in the 18th – 19th centuries. The most frequently encountered types are the icons reproducing the icon from the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Ordynka Street, of which a copy was made in 1710 by Alexei Kvashnin. Many of these icons became famous for their miraculous healings. One of them is the icon “Joy of All Who Sorrow”, with pennies from a chapel near the Glass-making factory in St. Petersburg (now housed in the St. Trinity church, known as “Kulich and Easter”).
The icon is venerated on November 6 (October 24, O.S.).