The legend runs that the icon was painted by one of Christ's apostles Luke in the first century AD in Jerusalem when Virgin Mary was still alive. Then the image went to a specially built church in Constantinople to be a main relic of Byzantine Empire, the world-first Orthodox Christian state. In 1383 the icon disappeared and emerged in some time in Rus (Russia) on the bank of the river Tikhvinka flowing into Lake Ladoga (Russia's northwest). Soon it became one of the most celebrated Russian religious relics. From 1560 into the 1920s the icon was kept in the Tikhvin Uspensky (Dormition) Monastery built on Ivan the Terrible's order. The Nazis who occupied the region during WWII withdrew the relic first to Pskov and then forwarded to Riga.
Riga's bishop Joann went to the U.S. through Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany together with the relic. He died in 1982 and remembered it in his will that the icon should be returned to the Tikhvin Monastery if it were rebuilt and religion in Russia were not oppressed.
The Virgin Mary of Tikhvin Icon will be delivered from Chicago to Riga on Monday (June 21). There it will be exhibited at the Khristorozhdestvensky (Chirist's Birth) cathedral for 24-h worshipping for three days.
On Wednesday the icon will be shipped to Moscow and then to St. Petersburg. On July 8 the Tikhvin Monastery will meet its greatest relic.