Mother of God of the Sign of Novgorod | Znamenie

The miraculous icon of Our Lady of the Sign is an iconic symbol of Russia, renowned for its
historical and spiritual significance. Throughout the West, it is commonly referred to as the
“Novgorodskaya” due to its widespread depiction of the breast image of the Mother of God
praying with raised hands, with a blessing Christ in a round medallion in front of her breast.
The feast of the icon of Our Lady of the Sign commemorates the miracle of her divine
intervention, which took place during the siege of Novgorod by the Ssusdal people in 1170. It is
believed that at the height of the battle, Saint Ivan, Bishop of Novgorod, brought the icon to the
city walls. As the enemy drew near and fired their arrows, one struck the icon, causing it to turn
its obverse away from the besiegers and revealing the depiction of Our Lady’s face as a sign of
great mercy with those suffering. Moved by this divine intervention, the bishop saw Our Lady
weeping and wiped off her tears with his robe. Following this miraculous event, confusion and
panic broke out in the enemy ranks, and they began to attack each other, eventually leading to
their defeat. The Novgorodians, emboldened by the divine intervention, opened the city gates
and triumphed over the enemy.
In honor of the miraculous intervention of Our Lady of the Sign, special prayers, hymns, and
church services were created, with the painting being housed in the Spas Church in Novgorod

until 1170. Eventually, it was moved to the Novgorod Cathedral, originally built in 1356, where it
still resides today as part of the Novgorod State Museum.
Throughout Russia, many churches and monasteries are dedicated to Our Lady of the Sign.
Notable among them are the Cathedral in Kursk and a Church in Dubrowize, both known for
their beautiful architecture and frequent religious pilgrimages. Additional examples include the
village churches decaying in Znamenskoe (Moscow region), with historical roots dating back to
the 17th century, and those in Kraskoe, located in the Vladimir region, which also feature fine
examples of traditional Russian church art and iconography.
Commemoration day: November 27