The miraculous icon, whose feast day is celebrated on November 27, is one of the most historic and well-known icons of Russia. For this widespread depiction of the breast image of the Mother of God praying with raised hands with the blessing Christ in the round medallion in front of the breast, the term “Novgorodskaya” has become established in the icon literature of the West.
The feast of the icon of the Mother of God of the sign of Novgorod commemorates the miracle sign of Our Lady, which, according to legend, she performed with this icon during the siege of Novgorod by the Ssusdal people in 1170. At a crucial moment of the battle, Saint Ivan, Bishop of Novgorod (Sept. 7), brought the icon to the city walls. When an enemy arrow hit the icon, the icon turned its obverse with the depiction of Our Lady away from the besiegers and “showed her face as a sign of great mercy with the suffering. The bishop saw Our Lady weeping and wiped off her tears with his robe. The enemy army panicked, darkness broke in and the enemies killed each other. The Novgorodians opened the city gates, pounced on the enemy and soon won.
In honor of this icon, his own prayers, hymns and a church service were created. The painting was in the Spas Church in Novgorod, which existed until 1170, until it found its place in the Novgorod Cathedral, built in 1356. Today it is kept in the Novgorod State Museum.
Many churches and monasteries in Russia are dedicated to Our Lady of the Sign, such as the Cathedral in Kursk and the Church in Dubrowize (Central Russia) from the 17th century, as well as the now decaying village churches in Znamenskoe (Moscow region), also from the 17th century and those from Kraskoe in the Vladimir region.