A new feast in honour of the Directress Icon of the Mother of God from Neamț Monastery will be added to the liturgical calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church beginning with 2019.
The decision was taken Thursday by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church following the proposal of the Metropolitan Synod of Moldavia and Bukovina.
The Holy Synod resolved that the new feast will be celebrated on July 9.
During the same synodal working session the texts of the Synaxarion, Vespers, Matins, Akathist Hymn, as well as the troparion and kondakion were approved.
The Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God from Neamț Monastery is the oldest documented icon in Romania, and considered the most valuable, from a historical and spiritual point of view.
The icon was donated to the Moldovan Ruler Prince Alexander the Good in the year 1401 by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologos.
For over 600 years this icon strengthened the Christian Orthodox faith of rulers, monastics and the faithful throughout Romania.
Commissioned by St. Germanos in the year 665 in Lydda, it is a copy of an icon of the Mother of God from the year 35.
On the reverse side, it features an icon of the Great Martyr George, born in Lydda. It was brought to Constantinople by St. Germanos when he became Patriarch and given as a gift to the Heleopatra Monastery.
At the beginning of the iconoclast persecution of the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Armenian, in 714, the icon was hidden, and in 716 was secretly sent by St. Germanos to Rome to Pope Gregory III.
The Wonderworking Mother of God Icon was in the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for 106 years.
After the victory of Orthodoxy in the East, and the end of the iconoclastic persecutions, Pope Sergius II returned the icon to Constantinople. The Holy Empress Theodora, St. Methodius, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the people of the Byzantine Empire welcomed the icon and it stayed in the Heleopatra Monastery for 555 years.
In 1401 Emperor Manuel Paleologos sent three icons as gifts to strengthen the alliance between the Byzantine Empire and the Moldovan Principality:
- One for the Ruler Alexander the Good – known now as the Wonderworking Icon of St. Anna of Bistrița Monastery, Romania
- One for his wife Queen Anna – known now as the Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Agapia Monastery, Romania
- One for the Moldovan Metropolitan Iosif Mușat – known now as the Wonderworking Mother of God Icon of Neamț Monastery, Romania – which was previously gifted by St. Germanos to the Heleopatra Monastery in Constantinople.
The icon stayed in the St. George Orthodox Church in Mirăuți-Suceava for 14 years, near the court of the Moldovan Ruler Princes. In 1415 it was brought to Neamț Monastery, where it has remained ever since.
During an Ottoman Empire invasion in June 1821, the icon was hidden underground in Rusu Mountains, until October 1822. Today there is a small skete called “The Icon” in the Rusu Mountains on the site where valuable Christian documents and sacred objects were safely hidden in 1821.
The icon is 3’4″ x 4′ in size, and since 1853 is protected by a gilded silver panel. The Wonderworking Mother of God Icon of Neamț Monastery is very well preserved, given the 1339 years since it was commissioned.