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Iconographic Analysis: Surety of Sinners



The Surety of Sinners (Споручница грешных) Icon of the Theotokos is a Russian image which was revealed as wonder-working during the middle of the 19th century. It gets it name from the inscription found on the icon:

“I am the Surety of sinners for My Son Who has entrusted me to hear them, and those who bring me the joy of hearing them will receive eternal joy through me.”



The word Sporuchnitsa (Споручница), translated as “surety”, can also be translated as “pledge” or even as “intercession”. The pledge is not only shown in the inscription but also in the way Jesus Christ holds His mother’s hand, a sign of one giving a pledge for the other.

The origins of the icon are unclear, but the style of the icon (both Mother and Child are crowned; 12 stars around the Theotokos) suggest either the Ukraine or Belarus, both places where Western religious art influenced iconographers. Despite this, the basis for the icon is in a much more ancient source, the Akathist to the Protection of the Theotokos, in which there is the line: “Rejoice, You Who offer Your hands in surety for us to God.”



This icon was first glorified by miracles in 1848 at the St Nicholas Odrino men’s monastery. The icon was in an old chapel beyond the monastery gates, and stood between two other ancient icons. Because it was so faded and covered with dust, it was impossible to read the inscription. It was revealed to many of the people in dreams that the icon was endowed with miraculous power. They solemnly brought the icon into the church. Believers began to flock to it to pray for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first to receive healing was a crippled child, whose mother, wife of a merchant named Pochepyn, prayed fervently before the icon in 1844. The icon was glorified during a cholera epidemic, when many people fell deathly ill, and were restored to health after praying before the icon.

With the revelation of the icon as wonderworking, many copies of the Surety of Sinners were made, some of which themselves were glorified by God with miracles. As well as the Odrino monastery, there are miracle-working icons in Moscow and Robensk.


Source: https://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/surety-of-sinners-icon/

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