Saint Nicholas the Wet

Kyiv, Ukraine, ca. 1091, not later than 1400

St Nicholas icon
St. Nicholas the Wet
St Nicholas icon
Nicholas the Wet with 1840 silver riza

The icon took its name from the story of the miracle of the infant in Kyiv, Lost and Found

A young couple made a pilgrimage from Kyiv to Vyshgorod to venerate the relics of Boris and Bleb on their feast day.

As they returned in a boat on the Dnieper, the woman fell asleep and the baby fell into the water. As they had great faith in St. Nicholas, they desperately cried to him for help.

The next day the baby was found safe and sound in the closed St. Sophia Cathedral, lying wet under the St. Nicholas icon.

Ever since, the icon has been known as Nicholas the Wet. It was located in the iconostasis of the Nicholas Altar, to the right of the royal gates.

Nicholas the Wet was the first Russian miraculous icon and its St. Sofia shrine was the oldest and most revered in Ukraine. The icon contributed to the spread of St. Nicholas' veneration in East Slavic lands. Every Thursday, following the liturgy, a prayer service with the akathist of St. Nicholas was offered in front of the miraculous icon.

The icon was possibly brought to Kyiv by Prince Vladimir I. It was restored in 1882 and again in the 1920s. 

Before Soviet troops came into Kyiv in 1943, the Bishop took the icon to Warsaw. Then the icon's journey becomes somewhat murky. In 1990 the icon was given to the Archbishop Palladium who took it to Germany, across the Atlantic to Boston.

Nicholas the Wet, despite its emigration, is still the most beloved shrine in Ukraine and, in 1973, described as "the largest Ukrainian national shrine."

The icon was first kept by the Bishop Palladium in his apartment, then in 1954 it was flown from New York to Toronto. A special icon case was made for the Holy Icon in the Toronto church. The original was hidden and a copy made by Anton Romanyuk, from New York. The copy was placed in the Toronto church. In 1963 the icon was moved to the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn, New York.

Copies were made at several different times and it is unsure which is which and where the original icon may be.

UPDATE: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the icon—the first miraculous icon of Kyivan Rus—will return to St. Sophia of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine. He stated, "And it will be at home, in St. Sophia. I am grateful for this decision to the hierarchs, clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States. I want the return of this shrine to become an important symbol for all of us. A fundamental symbol. A symbol that we will return to Ukraine everything that is ours. All Ukrainian. Let us get all our people back. And we will definitely return justice, full control over our land."


SOURCES
"Nicholas the Wet," Church of the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious (in Ukrainian)
Wikipedia (Ukrainian)
"Kyiv icon of St. Nicholas the Wet on the American continent" by Sergey Bilokin, Serbey Bilokin: Personal site of the historian of Ukraine
"Zelensky: Kyivian Rus' first miraculous icon of St. Nicholas 'Wet' to return to Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine, April 10, 2022.

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