The Softener of Evil Hearts (Seven-Arrowed)
Praising the Infant Savior whom Mary and Joseph brought to the temple, the aged Simeon prophesied about the Theotokos’ suffering, “Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). This prophecy by Simeon is portrayed by visible symbols – seven swords (or arrows): three on the right side, three on the left and one below. The number seven means the fullness of grief, sadness and heartache that the Theotokos suffered in her earthly life.
On March 23, 2012, we were blessed to host the miraculous Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts." Hundreds of faithful Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) Christians venerated this holy icon throughout the day. That evening, a moleben and akathist were served before the myrrh-streaming icon. It was noticeable that as the number of the faithful who venerated the icon increased, and as the prayer service began, more and more myrrh began streaming from the icon. The scent of myrrh, which is very distinct and pleasant, was easily detectable in the air. Everyone in attendance, some of whom had traveled hundreds of miles to be there, felt the divine presence of the Mother of God.
The myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God “Softener of Evil Hearts” arrived in the United States from Russia. After gaining reverence in the motherland, the icon is now traveling across America. Sergei Fomin is the icon keeper and came to this country at the invitation of Archimandrite Luke, Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, N.Y. Fr. Luke saw the icon during the session of the Church Council of January 2009, when the new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, His Holiness Kirill, was elected. At that time, the icon streamed myrrh profusely. After serving a liturgy and offering collective prayer, Fr. Luke gave his blessing for the icon to be taken to churches and monasteries in the United States.
The icon is a plain lithograph, a modern-day work from the Sofrino factory. It was kept in the Moscow apartment of Margarita Vorobyev and Sergei Fomin. One day, the icon started streaming myrrh. This happened during the glorification of blessed Matrona of Moscow, on May 2, after the icon was placed on righteous Matrona’s holy relics. Sometime later, the icon was transformed. Those who see it now cannot distinguish this lithograph from an ancient icon.
As Mr. Fomin was transporting the icon by car from Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia to Atlanta, he ran into bad weather. A severe thunderstorm was approaching, and the drivers on the highway had turned on their lights to make their way through it. All the passengers in Mr. Fomin’s car began praying. As they prayed, they were astonished by what they saw. Within five minutes, the severe thunderstorm had moved to the right side of the road, as if a divine hand had cleared the way for the Mother of God. Not a drop of rain fell on the car . Rain was falling all around them, but not on the icon as it traveled.
This icon travels to jails, nursing homes and hospitals. Everywhere people pray to the Mother of God and receive comfort.