The title “Theotokos” given to the Virgin Mary was confirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council in a.d. 431 and means literally the “Birth-Giver of God” as Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was born of her with both His human and Divine Natures. This 19th century icon is a beautiful example of Russian artistry, worked in elaborate enamel, embedded jewels, and bordered by precious pearls. It is a copy of the original “Kazanskaya” icon (meaning “of Kazan”) and this type of icon of the Virgin is a favorite in Russian iconography to this day.
In the 16th century, a maiden named Matrona was visited in dreams by the Theotokos, who told her to get the Archbishop to find her icon in a certain location. After the third such message, a group of people, led by the Archbishop began digging in the spot indicated in the dream, but to no avail. Finally they let young Matrona try and she found the icon, wrapped in red cloth, in her first shovel full of earth, on July eighth. The icon was triumphantly carried in procession to the nearest church but later moved to the Cathedral. We see in icons how all will appear at the end of time.