Iconography and Icons
On July 9 the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of the Icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes (also known as Sedmiezernaya). This icon was highly revered in the 17th century, when an outbreak of plague happened in the city of Kazan.
The original icon is kept today in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Kazan. This is one of the greatest sacred images of Tatarstan, which is honored as much as the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan. The feast of the icon is celebrated three times a year: July 9 – the day the city of Kazan was saved from plague, August 10 – the feast of the icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk, and October 26 – the day the icon was moved from Kazan to Monastery of Seven Lakes.
The settlement surrounded by seven lakes
Schemamonk Evphimiy presented the miraculous icon of the Mother of God to Monastery of Seven Lakes. He was born in the end of the 16th century in the city of Veliky Ustyug. When his parents passed away, he moved to Kazan together with his brother. As Evphimiy was a calm and righteous man, he decided to find a quiet place to live. Thus he settled down in a place surrounded by seven lakes, 11 miles far from the city.
When the schemamonk came there and built a small hut, he saw a pillar of fire rising over the it. Then Evphimiy understood that the place, where he had settled down, was unusual and chosen by God Himself. He made a cross there and built a small room for himself.
A Family Icon
The talks about pious Evphimiy and his life spread all over the area, and people began to visit him. Monks and novices began to settle near his cell, and very soon the monastery was officially organized there. At first it was called Ascension Monastery. Elder Evphimiy was called to Monastery of Transfiguration in Kazan (which does not exist now), where he asked the metropolitan to bless his patrimonial miraculous icon, so that he could present it to the newly opened Monastery of Seven Lakes. It was hard for him to leave the icon, which was handed down in their family from generation to generation. But the monk loved people and the monastery, and that is why he made a decision to present the miraculous icon, so that any one could come to venerate it or pray in front of it.
The brethren were pleased with such a great gift. After that, people began to visit the monastery to venerate the icon and to make donations towards the development of the monastery. Later the wooden church was rebuilt from stone, the father superior of the monastery was chosen, and another one church was built – the church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk, which remains until today.
Salvation from the plague
In 1654 plague raged all over Russia. According to the scriptures, more than 40,000 people died in Kazan. The city was dying and people did not know where to ask for help. People decided to bring the icon from the Monastery of Seven Lakes to Kazan.
The same night, Saint Nicholas appeared to a pious nun by the name of Marfa in her dream. He told her that the city would be saved and added: “Go to the authorities and say that they should welcome the Mother of God with honor”. She did not take the vision seriously and fell asleep again. Then the Saint appeared again and said: “There is no time for rest. The Mother of God is standing behind the city wall. Tell the authorities about this”.
Then the citizens with the authorities and the clergy took the miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Kazan and went toward the welcoming procession. On the place, where the two groups of people met, the Kizichesky Monastery was built later. People venerated the miraculous icon and asked for salvation. When people went around the city with the icon, it was placed in the Cathedral of the Annunciation. According to the story, the plague went away after that.
How the icon protects Kazan
In two weeks the monks from the Monastery of Seven Lakes came to the city to take the icon back. The weather was sunny on that day. At the moment they tried to move the icon out of the cathedral, the weather changed and the storm came to the city. The clergy understood that it was not right time to move the icon back, and decided to leave it in the cathedral for a year.
Since that time people have celebrated the salvation of Kazan on July 9. The icon of Seven Lakes performed a real miracle. For several years people brought the icon to Kazan and left it there for several months to avoid another outbreak. During that time, the monks held processions with the icon in the city during the day and at night. Thus the icon protected the city. The Mother of God saved the city from the same outbreak for the second time in 1956.
There is also a story about miraculous healing. In the end of the 19th century, Vyezdnoye village in Nizhniy Novgorod region was endangered by plague. The monks learned that the miraculous icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes is kept in Kazan. They ordered a copy of the miraculous icon and then the procession with this copy went through the village. On the place, where the procession stopped, the cathedral of the icon of the Mother of God of Smolensk was built.
Present day miracles
Even today, the Icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes continues to heal dreadful and incurable diseases. Archimandrite German (the abbot of Monastery of Seven Lakes) says that once a woman came to the monastery after an evening service. Her sad look and teary eyes did not leave priests indifferent. The pious woman told a priest that her granddaughter was dying. At that time, the nine-year-old girl was in the Children's Republican Clinical Hospital. She had a high fever and the doctors could not bring the temperature down. They also could not diagnose or help her. The woman who knew that the glorified copy of the Icon of the Mother of God of Seven Lakes had helped people a lot of times came to ask for help. That evening they all gathered and prayed together for the health of her granddaughter. Finally, a miracle happened. The woman called the hospital and found out that the temperature fell to 36.6 C.
The miracles were not limited to ordinary people, but also civil servants, politicians and famous people venerated the icon in the monastery of Seven Lakes. So, once a minister came to the monastery. He told that he had acute kidney failure. He was to have the surgery in Germany, but doctors said he would not survive the flight. Then he came to the church and asked the Mother of God of Seven Lakes for help. When his kidneys failed, he was operated in Russia and he got through the operation. The relatives and doctors could not believe for a long time that the man who was doomed to die actually recovered.
Translated from: http://www.tatarstan-mitropolia.ru/all_publications/publication/?id=47910
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