Trip of an Icon


The Pühtitsa icon of the Assumption of the Mother of God was a popular object of pilgrimage in the Baltic provinces: its feast day on 15 August attracted thousands to the Pühtitsa convent. The convent also dispatched the icon on an annual tour around other towns and villages in eastern Estland province. Here we provide a poem by the deacon K. Petrov about the icon’s arrival at the holiday resort of Narva-Jõesuu (Ust-Narov/Hungerburg) in 1903.

It was a bright, hot summer day

At the spa there are cottagers beyond count

The pine forest in cool shade

Unwillingly beckons all.

Everyone hunts here to breathe in the quiet

And walk around the woods or on the coast:

Do not even look for people in their homes

They all use the summer as they want.

But no! Not all: a crowd of people

Densely surround the local church

All wait for something: around the parish

A peal rings out happily

A cross procession leaves the church.

All the people move as a crowd.

Here are paupers, men, ladies.

Rich, healthy, and ill

Animation on their faces

To the jetty all go to meet

That icon which comfort

Gives, like a loving Mother.

It is already the third year since permission

The Synod gave to us: once a year

Our mistress to us in solace

Comes as an icon to our parish.

The jetty is black with people

And the cross process can barely enter

To meet the icon from the steamer.

Which from Narva to Gungerburg came.

The soul trembles in affection:

The icon is seen on deck

In the hands of a sister, and with humility

People meet the Mother of Christ

Two priests from the steamer

Take the icon from the sister

And before the faces of all the people

Carefully bear the icon to shore

Here they raise the icon high

And they overshadow the people with it

All the people bow their heads

The cross procession goes back.

Along the road of the procession

Bowing on their knees to the ground

Are the people. The Queen of Heaven

Comes to us with them, for all the autumn.

The people enter the church with humility

The icon enters before a crowd

The priests with reverence

Await its arrival.

Three days the Queen is in the village

Dwelling among her children

And many of their prayers

Are offered tearfully before her.

Some thirst for cures

From this icon for themselves.

Others in their home with humility

Await her visit;

They meet her with joy and they themselves

Carry her into their homes

From affection the ladies cry:

“The Queen herself comes.”

Two were fully cured

By this Pühtitsa icon.

And thus all the village

Venerates before her.

Queen! Accept prayers

From us sinning, weak people

For heaven the village is prepared

But do not leave us in this life.

Source: K. Petrov, ‘Vspominanie o prebyvanii Piukhtitskoi Chudotvornoi ikony Uspeniia Bozhiei Materi v Ust-Narove (Gungerburg) v 1903 godu’, Rizhskie eparkhial’nye vedomosti (no. 1), 1904: 17-20.