Commemorated on February 5
From time immemorial the Russian people, with faith in the all-powerful help of the Most Holy Theotokos, considered the title “Seeker of the Perishing” to refer not only to those who are dying, but to those whose souls are in danger of spiritual death.
There are no reliable accounts of the origin of the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon. There are, however, several wonderworking icons of this name, through which the Theotokos showed her mercy to persons at the very brink of death.
In the mid-eighteenth century, in the village of Bor (Kaluga Gubernia), the pious peasant Theodotos Obukhov lost his way in a blizzard on the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism. The horse became exhausted and paused on the edge of an impassable ravine. Seeing no way to save himself, Obukhov lay down in his sleigh, where he began to freeze.
In these terrible moments, he prayed with all his being, asking the Queen of Heaven for help, and he vowed that if he were rescued he would have a copy of the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon painted and donate it to his parish church. She heard his prayer and helped him in a marvelous way. A certain peasant in the nearby village heard a voice outside his window saying, “Take him.” He went out and saw the half-frozen Obukhov on his sleigh. When he recovered his health, Obukhov fulfilled his vow and commissioned a copy of the Icon from the Saint George church in the city of Volkhov (Orlov Gubernia). From that time the Bor “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon was glorified by many manifestations of grace and miracles.
There are other “Seeker of the Perishing” Icons: one manifested itself in 1770 in the village of Malizhino (Kharkov Gubernia), and delivered the people from cholera three times. There was another in the village of Krasnoe (Chernigov Gubernia), and another from Voronezh and Kozlov (Tambov Gubernia). In the year 1835, at the Moscow Alexandrov Orphanage Institute, a church was dedicated to the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon.
Of particular interest is the “Seeker of the Perishing” Icon in the Church of the Glorious Resurrection in Moscow. This Icon had been transferred from the church of the Nativity of Christ to the Palashev alley. Its final owner had become widowed and was on the verge of complete poverty. Fervent prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos saved him from despair and arranged matters for his daughters. This man felt that he was not worthy to have this wonderworking Icon in his house, so he gave it to the church.
In 1812 the Palashev church was pillaged by the French. The desecrated Icon was found among the rubble, broken into three pieces. After the Icon was found, numerous miracles of healing took place. Brides entering into marriage pray before this Icon so that their marriage might be a happy one. People come to it, overwhelmed by drunkenness, perishing in poverty, or suffering from illness, and they turn to the Icon in prayer as to a Mother with her perishing children.
The Icon has several names. In Slavonic it is called «Взыскание погибших» (Recovery of the Perishing, Seeker of the Perishing, Seeker of the Lost). In Greek it is known as “Ἡ τῶν ἀπολωλότων ἀναζήτησις” (Seeker of the Perishing).