Saturday, August 20, 2016

The miracle on how the Kiev Caves’ Church was painted.

   The divine Church of the Theotokos of the Kiev Cave Monastery was founded in the year 1073.
   This is the story of how the church painters came from Constantinople to the superior Nikon of Kiev Caves to paint the Church.
   Some icon painters came to the superior Nikon from the God-guarded city of Con­stantine and said, "Bring those two who contracted for our services. We want to discuss with them. They showed us a small church, and on that basis we agreed to decorate it in front of many witnesses, but this church is very large. Here, take back your gold, and we shall go back to Constantino­ple." The superior replied; "What sort of people were they who made this agreement with you?". The painters described the likeness and appearance of the people who summoned them and they mentioned the names “Antonij” and “Feodosij”. The supe­rior said to them, "My sons, we cannot show you these men; they departed this world ten years ago. They pray for us without ceasing and constantly keep watch over this church, and protect their monastery and take thought for those who are in it."
   Hearing this reply, the Greeks were awestruck and brought many other merchants, Greeks and Abkhasians, who had made the trip with them. And they said, "We made an agreement in front of those people and took gold from the hands of those two men, and you do not want to show them to us. If they have died, show us their image, so that these people may see if they are the ones." Then in front of everybody the superior brought out their icons. When the Greeks and Abkhasians saw their images, they prostrated themselves and said, "They are indeed the ones, and we believe that they still live after death and that they can help and save and protect those who have recourse to them." Then they donated the mosaic which they had brought to sell and with it constructed the holy altar. Then the painters began to repent their sins. They said, "When we came to “Kaniv” in our boats, we saw this church up on high. We asked those with us which church this was and they said, 'It is the church of the Caves Monastery, and you are its painters.' We became angry and wanted to go back downstream. That night there was a great storm on the river. When we arose in the morning we found ourselves near “Trypillja” (a fortress near the Dnieper) and the boat was moving upstream of its own accord, as if some force were pulling it. We stopped it with some effort and stayed the whole day wondering what it could mean that in one night we had traversed so great a route without rowing, which others could scarcely manage with hard work in three days. The next night we saw this church and the wonderful special icon of the Theotokos, which said to us, 'Why are you confused for nothing, and why do you not submit to the will of my Son and me?... If you disobey me and desire to flee, I shall take you all, and with your boat I shall put you in my church. And know this: you will not depart from there, but in my monastery you will be tonsured and live out your lives, and I shall grant you mercy in the world to come for the sake of its builders, “Antonij and Feodosij”.' When we arose the next morning, we wanted to go back downstream. We rowed hard, but the boat went upstream against the current. Submitting to the will and power of God, we gave in, and soon the boat arrived by itself below the monastery.'
   Then together all the monks and the Greeks, the craftsmen and the painters, praised Almighty God, His most Holy Mother, the marvelous icon, and the holy fathers “Antonij and Feodosij”. And so both the craftsmen and the painters did indeed live out their lives as monks in the Caves Monastery, and they were buried in their own chapel; their clothes are still now in the treasury and their Greek books have been preserved in memory of this miracle.
   When the superior “Stefan”, formerly the choirmaster, was expelled from the monastery he himself founded a church of Blachernai at Klov, because he had witnessed these remarkable miracles: how the craftsmen came carrying the icon and had related their vision of the empress at Blachernai.
   The pious prince “Volodimer Vsevolodovic Monomax” as a youth saw with his own eyes that remarkable miracle, when the fire fell from heaven and burned a trench where the foundation of the church in Kiev Caves was laid with the belt. And this was heard about throughout all the land of Russia. For this reason “Vsevolod” and his son “Volodimer” came from “Perejaslav” to see the miracle. At that time “Volodimer” was ill, and when the gold belt was put round him he immediately became well through the prayers of our holy fathers “Antonij and Feodosij”. In his own principality, the Christ-loving “Volodimer” took the measurements of this divine church of the Caves Monastery and founded a church of exactly the same height, breadth, and length in the town of “Rostov”, and wrote a charter on parch­ment where every festival is written in its place; and arranged all these things in imitation of this great God-appointed church. His son, Prince “Georgij”, having heard from his father “Volodimer” what was done in that church, founded in his principality a church with the same dimensions in the town of Suzdal. After some years all these churches fell into ruin, but this Church of the Theotokos alone abides forever.

Heppell M. (1989), The Paterik of the Kievan Caves Monastery, Harvard University Press for the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University.