The Softening of Evil Hearts
The icon of the Most Holy Theotokos known as “the Softening of Evil Hearts” or “Simeon’s Prophecy.” The Mother of God is depicted without Her Child, with seven swords piercing her breast: three from the left side, three from the right, and one from below.
A similar icon, “Of the Seven Swords” (August 13) shows three swords on the left side and four from the right.
The icon “Simeon’s Prophecy” symbolizes the fulfillment of the prophecy of the righteous Elder Simeon: “a sword shall pierce through your own soul” (Luke 2:35).
Before the Revolution of 1917, this miraculous icon was in the St. John the Theologian Bogolyubsk-Seven-Arrow Church, a small country church on the banks of the Toshin River, not far from the town of Vologda.
The Mother of God is depicted in an unusual pose, alone, without the Pre-eternal Divine Infant. She is pierced by seven arrows: four on her left side, and three on her right. The following is an account of the earliest glorification of this icon: A certain peasant of the Kandikovsky District who as the result of disease had for many years suffered with generalized weakness and a limp, had a dream in which he learned that he would be healed if he visited the St. John-Bogolyubsk church and found the icon of the Mother of God in the bell-tower. Twice he went there, related his dream, and asked permission to enter the bell-tower. However, they did not believe him, and his request was denied. Finally, the third time, they took pity on him and allowed him into the bell-tower. He immediately found the Holy icon which he had seen in his dream. It was being used as a floorboard on a stairway landing. They washed the icon of the dirt and bird droppings covering it. The sick peasant requested that a moleben be served before it, and, thereafter, was healed.
Much time passed, with nothing again heard of this icon until 1830, at a time when cholera was rampant in Vologda. The terrified residents ran for help to the Queen of Heaven, and taking up her Seven-arrow and Seven-city icons, carried them about the city in a solemn Procession of the Cross. The epidemic visibly abated, and soon the cholera entirely disappeared. From that time on, the icon was glorified through many miraculous healings of the sick.