IN 1996 - just a few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I took a seventeen day trip up the Volga River from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The journey was billed as A Tour of Old Russia, the German built ship stopping along the way at Medieval villages, towns and cities - all of which featured some famous shrine, church, palace or monastery.
Docking for an afternoon at Kostroma, we visited this restored convent which was established in the 1400's. The centerpiece of the monastic complex is the Epiphany Cathedral built between 1559 and 1565. It houses the Wonder-working icon of the Mother of God under the title Fyodoroskaya. I remember the yellow cupola got my attention.
Upon entering through the monastery gate the group was escorted to the chapel where the icon is venerated. But even before seeing the icon we were greeted with the most amazing scent of summer phlox coming in from the adjacent garden and filling the church. The scent was more powerful than incense, and I immediately responded, feeling, Oh thank you for this!
Here is a photograph I took of the bright shrine which houses the Miraculous Icon of the Fyodoroskaya Mother of God. The icon is approached through the opening on the right and the entire front of the shrine is covered with phlox and other summer-garden flowers.
Russia is replete with wonder-working icons. The veil between heaven and earth is very thin over them. We might offer our own heart-felt prayer as the Fyodoroskaya Icon is revealed to us here ~ asking not only for the safety and health of our own loved ones but for the re-creation of a world that would be welcoming and safe for all children.