On Sunday, August 5, the feast of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. His Eminence was co-served by cathedral clerics: Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, and Deacon Pavel Roudenko. Singing at the Divine Liturgy was the Synodal Choir under the direction of Peter Fekula.
The Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God is one of the most revered icons of the Theotokos. The wonderworking icon resides in the Pochaev Lavra in the Ternopol region of Western Ukraine. According to legend, the icon was gifted to the nuns by the noblewoman Anna Goyskaya, who in 1559 received it from Metropolitan Neophyte, future Patriarch of Constantinople, who was passing by near Pochaev.
Many came to pray before the icon of the Mother of God and to receive Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
At the conclusion of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he said, in part, "The Pochaev Monastery was founded in the 13th century, when Batu Khan destroyed Kiev and many monks of the Kiev Caves Lavra went west to find a safe place for prayer. In the 14th century, a monk and shepherd had a vision of the Mother of God: they saw the Theotokos standing on a rock near Pochaev, surrounded by a fiery flame. On the place where the Mother of God stood on the stone, there was an imprint of her foot. Since then, where the ‘footprint’ is, a stream of healing water flows, and believers come to partake of it."
His Eminence then talked about a miracle that occurred in the ХІІІ century, when the monastery was attacked by Muslim Turks. "The brethren and guards of the monastery prayed to the Mother of God and Venerable Job of Pochaev, and when the Turks surrounded the monastery, they saw the Queen of Heaven and St. Job praying in heaven." When the Turks began shooting at the Mother of God and the Monk, the arrows began to return to them. They were frightened, and left the Pochaev Monastery unassailed. This miracle was permanently imprinted in the memory of monks and believers, and the Pochaev Lavra was always the stronghold of the Orthodox Faith, including a time when Catholics sought to submit the Orthodox to the Pope of Rome."
Metropolitan Hilarion also recalled the importance of the Pochaev Lavra for us. "One of her monks, Archimandrite Vitaly (Maximenko)," said His Eminence, "founded Ladomirová Monastery in Slovakia in honor of Ven. Job of Pochaev, whose brethren later moved to America and settled in the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. Fr. Vitaly became Archbishop of Eastern America, and labored tirelessly for the benefit of the Russian Church Abroad. Archbishop Vitaly was buried in St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson. "
Metropolitan Hilarion called for the parishioners to pray for the inhabitants of the Pochaev Lavra and the faithful of Ukraine, that the Lord will guard the canonical Church, bringing them peace and tranquility, that they may glorify the Lord God and save the souls of believers with faith and piety.
The protodeacon intoned the Polychronion for the abbot of the Lavra, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry, Metropolitan Vladimir of Pochaev, and the monks of the Pochaev Lavra.
A traditional luncheon was then served in the cathedral hall for clergy and parishioners.