September 21

marian calendar     september

Mother of God of Kholm, Lutsk, Volyn, Ukraine

This cypresswood icon of the Virgin and Child has a long and troubled history reflecting that of Eastern Europe. Art historians date it to the 1000s. 

The traditional story is this. St. Luke painted the portrait. When Prince Vladimir was baptised in 988, it came from Constantinople to the kingdom of Kiev along with many other icons, and was enshrined at a church in Kholm (now Polish Chełm). In 1248, during the first Mongol invasion, as Batu Khan's Blue Horde approached, two princesses rallied the city to beg the Virgin's protection, placing the icon on the fortress wall facing the invaders, who suddenly experienced the delusion that the city was set on a mountain whose slope appeared ever higher and steeper, until they fled in terror. The townsfolk credited the Mother of God with their salvation. But in 1261, the Mongols returned under General Burunday. This time they sacked the city and damaged the icon, first by removing its silver cover, then with a saber cut to the Virgin's left shoulder and an arrow in her right arm. Immediately the perpetrators went blind. The image was lost in the church ruins for a hundred years. In the 1300s, it was unearthed and installed in the rebuilt Orthodox cathedral. 

In 1596, the Bishop of Kholm converted to Ukrainian Greek Catholicism, and with him the cathedral with its icon. During the 1600s, the icon was buffeted about between the Orthodox and the Ukrainian and Polish Catholics. On the advice of his Ukrainian Greek Catholic chaplain, King Jan II Casimir of Poland took it into battle against the Cossacks in 1651, then displayed it in his chapel in Warsaw. After another victory under its aegis in 1652, the king returned the miraculous image to Chełm, where it remained in the cathedral for 263 years, except for a brief trip into another battle, which Jan II Casimir lost. In 1795, the icon was crowned by Papal authority.

Early in the 1800s, the cathedral, with its icon, returned to Orthodoxy. In 1915, Russians took the icon. It is now in the Volyn Icon Museum in Lutsk, Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church honors this icon on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos: September 8 according to the old calendar, September 21 in the new. (Information from RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL OF ST.JOHN THE BAPTIST,; and other sources. Picture from

Also celebrated this date:

The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Macedonian Orthodox Churches (Sept. 8 Julian). Serbian churches sometimes call this feast day the "Little Dormition."
Čajniče Mother of God, Čajniče, Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pilgrimage to icon said by St. Luke in Orthodox Church of the Dormition.
Panagia Giatrena, Thirassia, Santorini, South Aegean, Greece
Beata Vergine di Follina, Follina, Treviso, Veneto, Italy. Abbey's stone statue of 1000s crowned, 1921.
Beata Vergine del Tresto, Ospedaletto Euganeo, Padova, Veneto, Italy. Apparition, 1468.
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Montepulciano, Siena, Tuscany, Italy. Temple dedicated, 1741; feast 3rd Sun. in Sept.
Madonna della Stella, Montefalco, Perugia, Umbria, Italy. First stone laid, 1862, at 1861 apparition site.
Maria Santissima dell'Olmitello, Deliceto, Foggia, Apulia, Italy. Three-day festa begins with torchlight procession. 
Madonna delle Grazie, Gravitelli, Messina, Sicily, Italy. Patron of "gravidelle," pregnant women.
Kalishto Mother of God, Kališta, Struga, Macedonia (Sept. 8 Julian). Orthodox feast of Black Madonna icon in Kališta Monastery.
Immaculate Mother of God, Kičevo, Kičevo, Macedonia. Orthodox monastery feast day.
Nuestra Señora de Yecla, Villaverde de Arcayos, Castile and León, Spain. Romería. Also Pentecost Mon. & Aug. 15.
Virgen del Brezo, Santibáñez de la Peña, Palencia, Castile and León, Spain, Villafría de la Peña district. (Virgin of the Heather) Romería.
Virgen de Valdesalce, Torquemada, Palencia, Castile and León, Spain. Thanksgiving pilgrimage to rural sanctuary. Also April 25.
Virgen de la Fuente, Munera, Albacete, Castile-La Mancha, Spain (Virgin of the Fountain). Town fair, procession.
Muttergottes Heiligtum von Loreto auf dem Achenberg, Klingnau, Zurzach, Aargau, Switzerland. Church consecrated, 1969.
Desert-Glinskaya Icon of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, Hlukhiv, Hlukhiv, Sumy, Ukraine (Sept. 8 Julian, also 9th Fri. after Easter)
Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, Dolores, Uruguay. Image moved to new town as patron, 1801. Fiesta on nearest Sunday.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly