Novgorod icon of the Mother of God "The Sign"
This is one of the oldest miracle-working icons in Russia. The Novgorod version of the icon became famous in 1169 when Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky of Suzdal sent a joint army of warriors from various lands, headed by his son Mstislav. on a campaign against Novgorod. The city was surrounded in February. On the fourth day of the siege a bloody battle began. The Novgorodians, not relying on their own resources, appealed to God and the Most Holy Virgin Mary for Their protection. Archbishop Ilia, who was praying to God in the cathedral church, suddenly heard a voice which demanded thai an icon of the Most Holy Mother of God should be taken from the Church of the Savior in Ilyin Streel and mounted on the city wall. The men sent for the icon, however, could not move it even a little. It was only after divine service was conducted by the Archbishop himself that they could take the icon and put it on the wall of the city. During the siege an arrow hit the icon and tears began to flow from the eyes of the Most Holy Theotokos. This was interpreted as a sign that the Mother of God tearfully requested the Savior to deliver the city from the enemy. At that very instant the enemy warriors were struck with blindness. Full of terror, they began to slay one another and soon afterwards they were defeated by the Novgorodians. The marginal scenes on this copy depict the battle of the Novgorodians against the warriors of Suzdal. The feast day in honor of this icon was instituted by Archbishop Ilia two days after the defeat of the Suzdal warriors, on November 27/December 10.