The special love of the Russian people for the Most Holy Theotokos is manifested not only in the prayerful veneration of the Queen of Heaven. Some icon painters create amazing icons of the Mother of God, which later become miraculous.
The icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" is one of the many miraculous images of the Virgin Mary, revered by the entire Russian Orthodox Church. In contrast to the icons of the Mother of God not made by hand, which historically appeared in various places in Russia, the image "Unexpected Joy" is completely man-made. Historians date the time when the icon was painted to the 18th century.
The iconography of the image is based on the story of St. Demetrius of Rostov about a repentant sinner who took the righteous path thanks to the help of the Mother of God. In his work "The Watered Fleece", dated 1683, the saint tells the story of a sinner man who was engaged in robbery and other deeds that are not only sinful, but also prohibited by civil law. Before committing atrocities, the sinner had the custom of praying to the Mother of God. Once the Virgin Mary appeared with the Divine Infant to a robber. The sinner saw that the infant Christ had bloody sores on the arms and legs, as well as in the place where the body of the Savior was pierced with a spear. The robber asked the Mother of God about the cause of the appearance of the ulcers. The Virgin Mary replied that sinners crucify Christ again and again with their crimes.
Imbued with a sense of repentance, the sinner began to pray to the Mother of God for intercession before Christ for the forgiveness of sins. After praying to Christ of the Most Pure Mother of God, the Savior commanded the sinner to kiss the bloody sores. At the same time, Christ said that it is proper to honor the Mother, therefore, for the sake of her prayers, man's sins will be forgiven.
In this way, the repentant sinner received the remission of sins from the Lord. It changed his life. From now on, the robber embarked on the path of righteous life and repentance.
The iconographic plot of the Unexpected Joy image is based on the image of a praying sinner in front of the icon of the Mother of God.
According to the pious tradition, in front of this image of the Mother of God, parents pray for the enlightenment of their children. In addition, believing Christians turn to the Mother of God with a request for spiritual admonition, and the very remembrance of the story of St. Demetrius of Rostov encourages a person to remember the great mercy of God to people, because according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church there is no unforgiven sin, except unrepentant sin.
Celebrations of the icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy" are held on May 14, June 3 and December 22 in a new style.