Icon-cases Witnessing Miracles

It is common to place icon in icon cases to protect the image from harmful environmental effects . Today we often hear abut icon-cases participating in miracles that the Lord shows to His faithful children. Today, the world knows many cases with negative imprints of holy images being miraculously displayed on glass in their icon cases. We would like to tell you about several such stories documented in the media.

“Support of the Humble” in Kiev

One of the first recorded miracles of this kind happened with the famous “Support of the Humble” icon of the Mother of God, located in the Holy Presentation Monastery in Kiev.

After being shut down several times in the 20th century, the monastery was finally opened in 1992. At that time, schema-nun Theodora donated to the monastery the aforementioned 19th century icon of the Mother of God, which was placed in an icon case. The miracle happened in 1993, when Abbot Damian noticed that the colors on the icon seemed to have darkened. When the icon case was opened, the restorers saw that the paint colors had not changed, while the darkening effect was caused by a silver imprint on the glass, an exact copy of the image of the Theotokos. Then it was decided to place the glass with the imprint in the icon case, next to the icon.

Many scientists came to the monastery and conducted research. They all concluded that the imprint was of organic origin and that the phenomenon could be neither scientifically explained nor reproduced.

By the decision of the diocesan council, the icon is considered miraculous. The numerous pieces of jewellery donated to the icon by grateful Christians testify to the many miracles performed through prayers before it.

“Savior Not Made by Hands” in Ishim

Another miracle happened in the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in the Russian city of Ishim, Tyumen Region. A novice named Dionysius was performing his usual work wiping icons. Approaching the image of the Savior Not Made by Hands, he noticed something unusual – the holy face of Christ was mirrored on the glass, like a large black-and-white negative film.

The rector of the church, Priest Peter (Lysenko), said that at first he did not know how to relate to this. The icon was in a dark place, far from the heating units, and there was no way for the paint from the image to appear on the glass. Besides, the imprint was white like chalk. “We tried to determine the composition of the image and found out that it was some kind of wax and oil. However, no one could understand its origin. The gap between the glass and the icon is about five centimetres.the  priest said. Trying to erase the imprint was to no avail. 

In the next three months, two miracles happened. First, a carpenter, making a frame for the glass with the imprint, was healed of a serious cold after praying in front of the icon. Soon after that, a possessed woman visiting the church had a demonic attack as she tried to approach the image. By decision of the diocesan council, the icon of the Savior Not Made by Hands was then recognized as miraculous. The glass with the negative image was placed next to the icon. Sharing his impressions of the miracle, the rector of the church said, An unusual phenomenon happening in church is a manifestation of the mercy of God … strengthening our faith.” Indeed, the miracle that happened in Ishim revived the spiritual life of the city. People began to come to the Intercession Church to venerate the miraculous icon not only from other cities but also from other confessions.

Embroidered Image of St Nicholas

Perhaps the most amazing story happened in 2007 with the icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, embroidered for the Holy Assumption Cathedral in a small Ukrainian town in the Poltava region. Its author, a midwife at the local outpatient clinic, was working on the icon as a gift to a newly constructed church. However, the work was not ready in time for the solemn event, and they decided to transfer it to the cathedral on the feast day of St Nicholas. Until that date, the image was kept in a case at the craftswoman’s house. 

When the feast day came, the woman saw that the glass covering the icon case had become somewhat cloudy. On the inside of the glass, she noticed exactly the same imprint as we described earlier. Seeing the unusual image, the rector of the church, Archpriest Igor Tsebenko, called it a miracle. However, it was decided to replace the glass with a new one.

The icon occupied a certain place in the church until the manufacture of the iconostasis was finished. When the parishioners wanted to transfer the icon to a new place, they noticed a small crack on the glass. “We decided to take the icon out of the frame and replace the glass. This is when we noticed another imprint! It was even clearer than the first. <…> That was a sign from above that we should pay more attention to the miracle. The image reappeared on the third glass, and then on the fourth. We tried to erase it, but that did not work. The imprint seemed to be made with chalk inside the glass .” said Father Igor.

When a glass with the imprint was sent to Poltava for study, the scientists there only shrugged their shoulders. It was clear that the image was not made by hands. They forwarded it to Kiev, but the imprint disappeared. However, on the way back, the face of the saint began to appear on the transparent glass again.

After that the research stopped. The icon is revered as miraculous and people with serious illnesses come and pray before it for healing. There is a belief that through this image St Nicholas especially helps sick children. 

These are only a few of many similar miracles occurring with icons of various saints. Some restorers call these phenomena “the breath of the Spirit.” Indeed, the imprints on glass resemble the perspiration caused by breathing; only (unlike the fog from human breath) it does not disappear. However, this is only another attempt to explain heavenly things with earthly concepts. One thing is clear in this way, the Lord shows His mercy to us, reminding us of the heavenly world and showing us His grace. Let us reverently treat all holy icons, because God may use any of them to show forth His miracle.

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About the author

Anastasia Parkhomchik,
Literary editor and Orthodox journalist, member of The Catalog of Good Deeds team.

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