THE SIGN OF THE THEOTOKOS ORTHODOX CHURCH
Our parish is named and consecrated in honour of one of the major icons in most churches — “The Sign of the Theotokos” spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (7:14) in the Old Covenant, and quoted by the Evangelist Matthew (1:23) in the New: “The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us’.” (“Theotokos” in Greek means “birthgiver of God”). Our liturgical services are celebrated primarily in English (with some French, and a little Greek and Slavonic).
Our mission is to bear witness to the Kingdom of God as transmitted through Sacred Scripture, the Apostles, the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God; worship and glorify the Lord God in Holy Trinity according to the liturgical practices of the Orthodox Church … and to be a spiritual home for all those who choose to dwell therein.
Patronal Feast of the The Sign of the Theotokos Church (November 27)
The icon of the Mother of God of the Sign is one of the most venerated icons of Russia. Its history is linked with the history of Novgorod, which in Kievan Russia was the cultural and commercial center of the North of Russia and one of old Russia's first cities. The importance of Novgorod has certainly contributed to the fame of the icon. Similar to Constantinople, the city had made the icon a sign of special protection by the Mother of God.
Starting in the 12th century the icon was the source of several miracles, the first of which took place in Novgorod. In those days the icon was called "Znamenie", which in Old Russian means "Apparition" or "Sign". Since the City of Novgorod had so much power and also had many vested interests in Northern Russia, many conflicts arose with its neighbours. One such conflict erupted in 1169. Prince Andrew Bogolioubski who left Kiev and took possession of Vladimir, arrived with his army at the walls of Novgorod. The besieged citizens had no other defense than calling on the Mother of God for protection.
According to the legend, their bishop, Saint John of Novgorod, went to get the precious icon and placed it on the city walls. On November 27th the enemy strengthened its attack with a downpour of arrows into the city. One of them hit the icon of the Mother of God. Immediately, the Virgin turned her view away from the enemy and towards the city. With it she gave a "sign" of mercy to the defenders. When the bishop looked towards the icon and saw tears welling from the eyes of the Virgin, he wiped off her tears with an end of his priestly vestment. At that very moment a cloud covered the attackers who, blinded from fear, started to kill one another. The Novgorodians, encouraged by this miraculous sign, launched an attack outside their walls and routed the city was saved.
In remembrance of the miraculous intercession of the Theotokos, Archbishop Elias established a feast day in honor of the “Sign of the Mother of God”, which the Russian Church celebrates to the present day.
For a description of the icon go to:
On Christian Almsgiving …
The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit. – St. Basil the Great