As legend says, the initial miracle-working image of the Mother of God with seven arrows was drawn in remote antiquity. According to 19th century publications, this icon is over five hundred years old. In pre-revolutionary Russia there was a famous and respected copy of the icon, which was identified with its legendary original. However, particularities of the image iconography and the fact that the said copy was made on a canvas glued to a wooden board indicate its late origin. The copy was made in the 18th century, probably from the initial icon that had not been preserved and dated back to the 17th century, i.e. the time when many elements of Western iconography emerged in Russian painting. The wonderworking icon of the Mother of God “Seven Arrows” comes from northern Russia. Before the revolution it was kept in the Church of John the Divine on the bank of ToshnyaRiver, not far from Vologda. The legend about the icon resembles similar stories about Mother’s of God images seen in visions by different people. A peasant from Kadnikovsky uyezd (district) suffered from lameness for many years and had no hope already to get cured. Once he was sleeping, and a Divine voice ordered him to find an icon of the Mother of God in the Church of John the Divine bell tower where old icons were kept, and to pray in front of the icon with faith for his disease cure. Having come to that church, the peasant could not do right away what he’d been ordered in the vision. Only after his third request clergymen who did not trust his words let him enter the bell tower and go upstairs. It turned out the icon, being covered with dust and dirt, served as a simple wooden stair on which bell ringers stepped while going up or down the tower. Being terrified with their unintentional sacrilege, clergymen cleaned the icon and held a service in front of it, whereupon the peasant totally recovered. Several years later, the memory of the miracle started gradually fading away and could vanish totally, if it were not for a new God’s affair when the miraculous power of the Mother’s of God icon manifested itself again. In 1830, a horrible cholera epidemic overtook a major part of European Russia, including Vologda province. During the pestilence many sacred items were brought to Vologda from Toshnya, including the icon of the Mother of God with seven arrows, and placed in the “cold” (summer) Church of Dmitry Prilutsky on Navolok, in Vologda Zarechye, to the right of the main city bridge. Christ-loving inhabitants of Vologda held a religious procession with the Seven Arrows icon around the city. After the universal prayer in front of the wonderworking image, cholera abated just as suddenly as it had come.
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