The miraculous Smolensk-Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God “Hodegetria” is one of the shrines of the Bogoyavlensky Convent in Kostroma. The fresco icon, a copy of the Smolensk icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, was painted in 1672 on the wall of the corner southwestern tower of the Bogoyavlensky Monastery by an artel of isographers headed by the famous icon painters Gury Nikitin and Sila Savin, who at that time worked on the painting of the cathedral church of the convent – now the Bogoyavlensky Cathedral.
A hundred years later, in 1779, a devastating fire broke out in Kostroma, in which half of the city buildings died. The entire Bogoyavlensky Convent, its churches and fortress walls were engulfed in flames, however, protected by the miraculous power of God, the wall image of the Smolensk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos remained completely unharmed.
In 1824-25, thanks to the efforts of Saint Makarii (Glukharev), the enlightener of Altai and one of the outstanding Russian missionaries and scholars of the 19th century, who was at that time the abbot of the Bogoyavlensky Monastery, the southwestern tower of the monastery with the iconographic image of the Mother of God on it was rebuilt to the church in honor of the Smolensk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
In 1847, a terrible fire broke out in Kostroma again. The merciless flame destroyed the interior decoration of the Smolensk Church, however, as in the fire of 1779, the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God remained unharmed again. The news of this miracle instantly spread throughout Kostroma, and, according to a contemporary, “many crowds of people who stood near the Smolensk Church, with faith and reverence, fell before this face of the Mother of God, asking Her for the intercession and salvation of the burning city.”
Through the efforts of the pious Kostroma residents, the wall image of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God was covered with a precious silver-gilded plating. For many years, the oklad adorned the ancient shrine, famous not only for the fact that it was preserved in the flame of two fires, but also for numerous miracles, manifested through it by the power of God’s grace.
In 1920, despite the active resistance of believers, the Smolensk Church, following the abolition of the Bogoyavlensky Convent in Kostroma, was closed. All the church goods, and with it the precious plating of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God, were confiscated by the provincial commission for the confiscation of church valuables.
In 1990, the Smolensk church, in which various institutions were located for many years, was returned to the Church and to the rebirthing Bogoyavlensky Convent. The Smolensk-Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God, once preserved in the flames of devastating fires, turned out to be badly damaged – almost only outlines remained from the image. The restorers made disappointing conclusions: the image of the Mother of God is completely lost, and the icon needs to be rewritten. However, a miracle happened – one of the members of the expert commission took cotton wool and alcohol and made a test smear. Suddenly, in place of the smear, the eye of the Virgin appeared, then another. A miraculous renewal of the icon took place – the image that had disappeared forever was restored. Experienced restorers were amazed at this miracle: they had never seen anything like this in 50 years of their work.
On November 3, 2004, a new precious plating was consecrated for the Smolensk-Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God.