The Icon of the Mother of God “Surety of Sinners” is known by this name because of the inscription on the icon: “I am the Surety of sinners for My Son Who has entrusted Me to hear them, and those who bring Me the joy of hearing them will receive eternal joy through Me.” The Mother of God embraces Her Child, Who holds Her right hand with both His hands so that Her thumb is in His right hand, and Her small finger in His left hand. This is the gesture of one who gives surety for another.
Although it is not known when or by whom the icon was originally written, it is believed that the basis of the icon is to be found in the Akathist to the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: “Rejoice, You Who offer Your hands in surety for us to God.”
This icon was first glorified by miracles at the St. Nicholas Odrino Monastery in the former Orlov province of Russia in the mid-nineteenth century (the “Assuage My Sorrows Icon” is also from this monastery). The “Surety of Sinners” icon of the Mother of God was in an old chapel beyond the monastery gates, and stood between two other ancient icons. Because it was so faded and covered with dust, it was impossible to read the inscription.
In 1843, it was revealed in peoples’ dreams that the icon was endowed with miraculous powers. These same townspeople solemnly brought the icon into the church. Believers began to flock to the church to pray for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first one to receive healing was a crippled child, whose mother prayed fervently before the icon in 1844. The icon was glorified during a cholera epidemic, when many fell deathly ill, and were restored to health after praying before it. Eventually, a large stone church with three altars was built at the monastery in honor of the wonderworking icon.
In 1848, through the efforts of Lt. Col. Demetrius Boncheskul, a copy of the wonderworking icon was created and placed in his home. Soon it began to exude a healing myrrh, which was given to those suffering from serious illnesses. Boncheskul donated this wonderworking copy to the Church of St. Nicholas at Khamovniki in Moscow, where a chapel was built in its honor.
The “Surety of Sinners” Icon is also commemorated on March 7 and on Thursday of the week of All Saints.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )