In the history of Byzantium VIII and the beginning of IX centuries entered as a period of iconoclasm. The emperors, having declared the worship of holy images of idolatry, persecuted all who adhered to this ancient tradition. The icon "The Three Hands", so widely known in the Christian world, according to legends, e is a witness of those difficult times.
Iconoclast from the banks of the Bosphorus
The beginning of the history of this miraculous image was the ascent to the Byzantine throne of Emperor Leo III, a vicious enemy of veneration of icons. With those who tried to enter into polemics with him, he ruthlessly dealt with, believing that he was doing God-pleasing work. One of his irreconcilable opponents was St. John. He wrote and sent to the emperor three theological treatises, in which he defended his convictions.
Such statements were inconsistent with the policy of Lev III, and he was ready to deal with the freethinker, but did not have this opportunity, since St. John lived at that time in the Syrian capital Damascus and held a high post at the court of the caliph. Thus, he was legally inaccessible. But so it was led from time immemorial: where the law is silent, there are intrigues and slander. It was in this way that the emperor went. On his orders, a fictitious letter was produced, allegedly proving that John was offering him his assistance in seizing the Syrian capital.
"Troeruchitsa" - a miracle-eyewitness icon
This counterfeit was sent to the caliph, and he, not doubting its authenticity, immediately expelled the future saint from his palace, and in intimidation to others ordered to cut off his right hand, which was then hung out in the town square. In the evening of the same day, John sent a letter to his tormentor asking him to fulfill his mercy and interrupt his moral suffering caused by his hand being exposed to shame.
Apparently, the compassion was not alien to the Caliph, and he ordered the return of the bruised hand from the saint. The Life of St. John tells us that this evening he prayed long and hard before the image of the Virgin, and when he awoke the next morning, he found that the severed hand was safe and sound in its original place. There was only a small scar. Such an unheard-of miracle plunged him into confusion. He offered prayers to the Blessed Virgin and as a token of gratitude, strengthened in the lower part of Her image a hand made of silver, in honor of which the name "Troeruchitsa" was born. The icon was soon transferred to the monastery of Savva the Sanctified, where St. John departed from the world.
Miraculous image in Athos monastery
After the events described, almost five hundred years passed. In the XIII century, the icon of the Mother of God "The Three Hands" was presented as a gift to Saint Savva of Serbia and was sent with him to his homeland. But she did not stay long in Serbia. Soon the country suffered a terrible disaster - the invasion of the Janissaries. Residents used all available means to save Christian shrines from mockery. Among the others was the "Three Hands". The icon was placed on the back of the donkey, and he was released to the Will of God.
Guided by Higher Industry, the animal, having traveled a long way, stopped at the gates of the Athonite monastery of Hilandar, where the shrine was received with great honors by the brethren. Soon all the inhabitants of the monastery witnessed a miracle revealed in a holy way. It so happened that the hegumen departed to the Lord, and, according to the statute, it was necessary to choose a new one. However, as the monks did not try, they could not stop at a worthy candidate.
Wonderful expression of the will of the Virgin
And then one day, when they came to the service, they saw a holy image on the hegumen place. It was the "Three Hands" - the icon of the Mother of God, recently found by their monastery. Believing that there was some kind of misunderstanding, she was taken to the altar, where she was always kept. But for tomorrow and all subsequent days the same thing was repeated. Still unable to believe what is happening, the monks sealed the doors of the temple for the night, but in the morning the icon was again where the hegumen was placed during the services.
Soon one of the brothers in the dream appeared to the Most Holy Theotokos and announced her own goodwill personally to manage the life of the monastery. Since that time in the Hilendar monastery, the abbot has never been again. His duties were symbolically performed by the icon "The Three Hands". When the monks were required to receive a blessing on any matters, they were applied to the silver hand of the Mother of God.
Another legend about the birth of the image
In order for the story to be complete, it is necessary to recall one more version of how the "Three Hands" appeared. The icon, according to legend, was written by a little-known icon painter from the Athonite monastery of Hilandar. During the work on the blackboard, the image of the third hand of the Virgin repeatedly appeared. The master deleted it, but every time it came through again. Once in a dream, he saw the Virgin Mary, who commanded to preserve the image in the form that he had found in such a wonderful way. The artist obeyed the Almighty, and as a result, the Orthodox world was granted one of the most revered sacred objects.
Lists of icons known in our country
In Russia this miraculous image came in 1661. In Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos was specially made a copy for the Russian patriarch Nikon. Upon the arrival of the shrine in Moscow, she was placed in the newly built New Jerusalem Monastery. Up to now, the original has not survived, but there is a copy made in 1854.
Besides it, in the capital's temples you can see several ancient lists, for example, in the Trinity Cathedral of St. Daniel monastery and the Dormition Church of the Bulgarian metochion. In Russia it hardly probable not the most beloved and revered icon. “Mother-the three-handed” has always been considered a helper and intercessor of all who with faith and hope turned to her their prayers.
Compositional features of the icon
According to its iconographic type, the icon of the Mother of God "Troeruchitsa" refers to the category of the Hodegetria. This word is translated from Greek, as "pointing the way." In this case, this name is due to the fact that on icons of this type, the accent in the composition is made on the figure of the Child of Christ, and the Mother of God points to Him with Her hand, as if focusing the attention of the viewer in the right direction. A characteristic feature of the Russian lists was the tradition of portraying the third hand in such a way that it belongs to the Mother of God herself, and is not a separate independent element.