There are a lot of sacred things in Puhtitsa Convent, but the icon of the Mother of God of Puhtitsa is especially dear to the sisters of the convent and the pilgrims who visit this place.
The story of the icon is the following. In 1894, the sisters of the convent gave to their most beloved father an image, depicting the appearance of the Mother of God on the Mount Puhtitsa near the place, where the Holy Source had appeared. On the bottom of the icon there was an inscription: “To Archpriest Ioann Ilyich Sergiev. The work of the icon-painters of Dormition Convent on the Holy Mountain of the Governorate of Estonia. October 19, 1894.” St. John of Kronstadt kept that image until his very death.
The saint prayed in front of that icon for many years. He bequeathed the image to a pious family from St. Petersburg. Later the icon was given to Nun Virsaviya from Ioannovsky Convent of St. Petersburg. The Mother of God appeared to the nun while she was sleeping, and revealed Her will: the image should be moved back to Puhtitsa Convent. That happened on the Easter in 1946, and soon the icon was brought to the convent, where it was taken by nun Alexia II, the Mother Superior of the convent.
When you look at this icon you recall the words of the saint:
“On the 15th, on the eve of the feast of Dormition of the Mother of God, I was happy to see the Holy Theotokos and listen to Her voice saying, “You are the sweetest children of the Heavenly Father”. I understood how sinful I was. I looked at Her bright face and thought about whether She would reject me or not. That vision lasted for a minute, and then She left me slowly, crossed a small gully and disappeared. I saw the Heavenly Visitor walking. At first, I saw her just like on the icon, but then She came off and walk away. She was just like a bright star in the shining of the Divine Light, just like a coal in the great fire. She was so bright and fiery!”
Puhtitsa Convent, organized by St. John of Kronstadt on the place of the appearance of the Mother of God, was never closed throughout its history. The services were held even during the wartime, despite the fact that the front line lied near and the convent was surrounded by the troops. The locals told a lot of stories about the bombs that were falling in the convent’s direction during the World War II. However, the mysterious power pulled them aside from the convent’s walls. The bombs fell on the ground outside the territory of the convent without exploding. The sisters remember that once in 1946 a man wearing military uniform came to the convent. He was a flyer, who had been ordered to bombard the convent in 1944. He approached the target several times, but he could see nothing: “I remember I was getting closer, but everything was just like in fog, although the weather was fine and the sky was clear. I turned around and tried to approach one more time, but I still could not see anything. I began to bombard the territory according to the calculations, but then I suddenly saw a woman in blue vestment standing among the clouds. “Do not destroy My home”, She said.” When the man entered the church, he saw the icon of Puhtitsa and fell on his knees. He said that it was the very women, who had appeared to him that day. This is how the Mother of God has protected Her convent.
In 1954, Anna Nikolaevskaya, a widow of Fr. Basil Nikolaevsky from the city of Novgorod, came to the convent. Fr. Basil was keeping the relics of the Novgorod saints during the war. Once Matushka Anna saw in a dream the image of the Mother of God which she had never seen before. The Holy Theotokos was painted from the feet up in a blue omophorion and stretching Her holy hands. “What a miraculous icon was that?”, thought the woman and heard the voice saying, “I will help you to find this icon. You look for it on the mountain”. Matushka visited a lot of churches and monasteries trying to find the very icon, but her search was unsuccessful. Then she came to Puhtitsa Convent, where she has never been before. In the convent’s Dormition church the woman found the image she was looking for. Matushka recognized that as the sign of God’s will and stayed in the convent.
On September 3, 1954, Matushka Anna was tonsured as a nun under the name Euphrosyne. She loved very much the icon of the Mother of God of Puhtitsa, and by her efforts several small copies of the image were created. Those copies of the sacred image were given to the pilgrims who came to the convent.
In July 1997 a group of teachers and tutors from the Moscow home for orphans came to the convent. One of them, Valentina Popova, got sick with the flu before their departure. She was lying with high temperature and was very upset that she could not go to Puhtitsa Convent with her colleagues. A woman in blue clothes appeared to her. She took her hands and helped to get up from the bed. Valentina miraculously managed to reach the train by which the group had to go to Puhtitsa. When she came to the convent and saw the icon, she recognized the Woman Who had helped her.
When the first day of the pilgrimage was over, the pilgrims sat near the windows after the evening prayer and relished the beauty of the local area at night. At that moment, they saw the Mother of God was walking around the Refectory church with a candle in Her hands.
On July 8, 1999, a woman called Helen came to Puhtitsa Convent from Tallinn with a group of pilgrims. When she got a book with akathists to the icon of the Mother of God of Puhtitsa during the excursion, she burst in tears and said, “Forty years ago I had a heart surgery. I was fourteen years old then. After the surgery I saw I woman in blue clothes. When I came to Puhtitsa Convent, I realized Whom I had seen that day”.
It is impossible to describe all the miracles performed by the icon of the Mother of God of Puhtitsa. People who were called by the Holy Theotokos come to the convent come there from all over the world. The Mother of God saved many of them from misfortune, while some of them were healed from diseases.
The priceless sacred image of the Mother of God, which was brought back to the convent by God’s Providence, lightens with its grace every person who come to the Puhtitsa mountain.