In the aftermath of the Holy Father’s consecration, we can also look to a powerful aspect of Mary; Our Lady of Kiev. This in no way supplants the miracle of Fatima, but complements and supplements the appearance at Fatima. Today, many nations know the image by the name Our Lady of Tenderness. The icon became the ideal of Marian icons, never again achieved by later artists. Around 862, a band of Norsemen settled in Novgorod and organized the Slavs of that region into an independent state – the nucleus of the future Russia. Kiev, about 20 years later, became the capital. By the end of the ninth century, missionaries from Constantinople had converted many of the inhabitants to Christianity.
During the three succeeding centuries, Kiev become the intellectual and religious center of the country, and numerous convents and monasteries arose in Kiev and the surrounding territory. One of these was staffed by the Dominicans. To it there came in the early years of the thirteenth century a Dominican Father by the name of Hyacinth – Saint Hyacinth, the Apostle of the North; also Apostle of Poland and Russia. Hyacinth had a burning ambition to convert the pagans and infidels of China, Mongolia, and outer Russia (the Tartans), to the Christian faith. In this dedicated task he made numerous journeys, mostly by foot, into the far countries lying beyond Kiev. Between these travels he rested and recuperated at the Dominican House at Kiev.
It was created by a Byzantine monk around 1132 for Prince Mstislav of Kiev. It came to Ukraine around 1134 and was placed in Vyshhorod, where a beautiful shrine was built to house it. This is why Ukrainians honor her as Our Lady of Vyshhorod. In 1155, Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky attacked Ukraine. Before he demolished Kiev, he took the valuable icon from nearby Vyshhorod and moved it to Vladimir, a city in the north. This is why the icon is also known as Our Lady of Vladimir.
In 1240, word came to the monastery that the Mongols had invaded the country. They had marched across the Caucasus, swept over central and southern Russia, and now Kiev itself was in imminent danger of attack by the pagan hordes. Saint Hyacinth, on hearing the tragic news, rushed to the nearby church to save the Blessed Sacrament from capture and desecration. Eighty years later after the Mongols had been driven away, the statue was returned to Kiev. That city became the center of great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and it was natural that people soon gave the statue the name of Our Lady of Kiev. The statue was later taken to a Dominican convent in Lwow in Poland. What has happened to it since the Communists took over Poland is unknown. But surely, Our Lady still pleads to each of us, “Take me with you; I will make the burden light.” She will always make all our burdens light and bearable, as long as we keep her with us always and everywhere.
The icon survived centuries of wars. In 1395, it was transferred to Moscow. But the Madonna of Kiev showed that neither the frame of the painting nor the gallery walls could limit its power. After all, St. John of Damascus taught that an icon is not only the image itself but the presence of the portrayed saint. This presence made itself known through miracles and answered prayers in another way in the town of Hrushiv. In 1987, the Holy Mother began appearing above the tower of a small wooden Orthodox church dedicated to the Holy Trinity and belonging to the Greek Catholic community in Hrushiv. For more than a century it was an important pilgrimage site. But after the Communist takeover of Ukraine, the authorities shut down the shrine.
The years passed. Then suddenly, the seemingly dead church came to life — literally. For three weeks it was inexplicably surrounded by a silver aura. News of the apparitions spread quickly. Mere days passed before a huge crowd stood around the humble shrine. They came not only from Ukraine but from other republics of the Soviet Union. Every day about seventy thousand people arrived. The militia and the KGB tried, without success, to regain control of this place. It became difficult for the soldiers to remain at their posts, given that they themselves were witnessing the supernatural event. Having received the grace of participation in Marian apparitions, they weren’t able to ruthlessly disperse the crowds as they were ordered to do or handcuff and punish the more zealous participants to make examples of them.
Through these apparitions, Mary knowing the situation of Ukraine and Russia, Mary said, “Pray for Russia. Russia will only convert when all Christians will pray for it.” Perhaps, if Christians cannot offer material, military, or monetary help- all Christians, children of Mary, can offer prayers to Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.