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The Weeping Icon of Marijapovch: On the 300th Anniversary of the First Miraculous Weeping
Among Carpatho-Rusyn Christians, the Weeping Icon of Marijapovch is revered because it stands for believers as a witness to the protection and intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God. The icon itself comes from and expresses the life of the Church in Eastern Europe. Its rich history reflects a deeply rooted faith in God and a trusting devotion to the Mother of God.
In the northeastern plains of Hungary, in the village of Povch (former Szabolcs County), stands the Monastery of the Basilian Fathers, with a magnificent church. Stefan Papp, brother of the pastor of the church in Povch, who had studied art in Italy, was engaged by Laszlo Csigri to write an icon of the Mother of God for the ikonostas. He painted the Virgin Mother on wood holding the Divine Infant with a three-petaled tulip in His hand. Unable to pay for the icon, Lorincz Hurta, a well-to-do parishioner, donated it to the church. In this church the first weeping of the icon of the Mother of God took place on November 14, 1696 according to the Julian calendar. The same miracle occurred again from December 8 to 19th of the same year. Needless to say, this miracle was a great consolation to the discouraged people of Povch. Ever since the first miraculous weeping, the village of Povch has been called Marijapovch (in Hungarian, Máriapócs).
When Leopold I, Emperor of Austria, had been informed of the miraculous icon, he immediately had it transferred to Vienna. This royal act did not please the people of Povch and they very reluctantly parted with the holy icon.
On December 1, 1697, the icon was placed above the tabernacle of the main altar in St. Stephen’s Basilica in Vienna. During the Second World War it was taken down to the grottoes of the basilica for safe-keeping. After the war it was placed above a new altar with a baldachin, close to the main entrance on the right-hand side of the basilica.
The carriage transporting the icon was delayed at each post depot on the route to Vienna by large groups of people, who had gathered to pay homage to the icon. Count Carbelli, a chamberlain of Emperor Leopold I, was so impressed by the piety and devotion of the crowds that he ordered a Jesuit Father from Koљice to come to Barca, Abauj County, to make a copy of the icon for the church at Povch. When the icon was completed, the people formed a procession and carried the new icon to Marijapovch.
This second icon of Marijapovch began to shed tears on the first, second, and third of August in 1715. Devotion to the holy icon increased and the church at Marijapovch became a most renowned place of pilgrimage. Nearly two centuries passed before the third shedding of tears which took place in December 1905.
from text by +Very Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Alishofski
Our people did not forget their devotion to Our Lady of Marijapovch when they came to America.
St. John the Baptist Greek Catholic Church in Perth Amboy, NJ is a copy of the basilica church at Marijapovch, as is SS. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Punxsutawney, PA (except that the domes have now been replaced with western-style steeples).
The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic churches of Holy Trinity in New Salem and Holy Resurrection in West Brownsville, PA (in the Monongahela River valley) have prominent shrines with copies of the Marijapovch icon. At Holy Trinity, the parish custom is to recite a prayer to Our Lady of Marijapovch at the conclusion of every Sunday Divine Liturgy.
St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Brownsville, PA, has a Marijapovch icon replica above the Royal Doors on its ikonostas.
The St. Gregory Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of Homestead, PA used to have a Marijapovch icon shrine in the church, but it has been replaced by some “more-Russian” icon.
The Pittsburgh-area Byzantine Catholic Churches founded by Hungarian-speaking Rusyns (Holy Transfiguration, McKeesport; St. Mary, Duquesne; and St. Elias, Munhall) each have some shrine or representation of the Marijapovch icon.
At least a few churches (such as Holy Trinity Byzantine Catholic in Wall, PA and St. Thomas the Apostle Byzantine Catholic in Rahway, NJ) have icon-banners of the Marijapovch icon.
The Byzantine Catholic Church of SS. Peter & Paul in Bethlehem, PA has a shrine room with a beautiful, large reproduction of the original “Marijapovch” icon.
And there are the Byzantine Catholic Basilian Fathers’ Monastery of Our Lady of Mariapocs at Matawan, New Jersey with several enshrined reproductions (paint and mosaic) of the icon, and the Shrine of the Weeping Madonna of Mariapoch in Burton, Ohio, where the icon is prominently featured.
And last but certainly not least, we may occasionally see in Rusyn-American homes, a framed copy of the beloved Marijapovch icon, lovingly adorned with a colorful, richly embroidered ruchnyk (towel), perhaps passed down for generations from our Rusyn immigrant parents or grandparents who told us stories of how they would walk fifty, a hundred miles, or more, --barefoot--, to attend a pilgrimage (otpust) in that most revered village of Marijapovch. ¨
Have we missed any? We’d like to know of other evidence in America of devotion to the “Marijapovch” icon!
In 1949, a prayerbook was published by the then-Greek Catholic Eparchy of Pittsburgh which contained private and liturgical devotions to Our Lady of Marijapovch. Sadly, these devotions are rarely, if ever, observed in parishes. However, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico held a three-day prayer observance the weekend of November 2-3 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the first miraculous weeping in Marijapovch, with a procession & enthroning of the Marijapovch icon, and two days of Molebens and other devotions to the Marijapovch Mother of God. This is all the more remarkable since OLPH Church has not only Rusyns in its congregation, but Hispanics, Germans, Asians, and any other number of non-Slavic backgrounds.
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