December 6, 2023

The Miraculous Icon of Saint Nicholas the Wet

By St. Justin Popovich

Once in Kiev, on the feast of the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb [July 24], a great crowd from all cities and villages descended on the feast of the holy martyrs. A certain Kievan, who had great faith in Saint Nicholas and the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb, sat on a ship bound for Vyshgorod to venerate there at the grave of the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb,* taking with him candles, incense and prosphora - everything needed for a worthy celebration.

After venerating the relics of the Saints and filling his soul with joy, he set off by boat back to his home. During that journey along the Dnieper River, his wife, who was holding the child in her arms, dozed off and dropped the child into the water, and it drowned. The father began to pull out the hair on his head, crying:

"Woe to me, Saint Nicholas, why do I have such great faith in you, yet you do not save my child from drowning. Who will inherit my estate? Who shall I teach to solemnly celebrate your feast? How will I announce your great mercy that you poured out on the whole world and on me, the wretched one, when my child drowned? I wanted to bring him up by enlightening him with your miracles, so that after my death they would praise me because my birth celebrates Saint Nicholas. However, Holy One, you have not only grieved me but also yourself, because soon the celebration of you in my home will have to be stopped, since I am old and expect to die. If you wanted to, you could have saved the child; but you allowed it to drown and did not guard my only child. Or do you think that I do not know your wonders? They are without number, and human language is not able to tell them. And I, holy father, believe that everything you desire is possible for you, but my iniquities are too much. Only now, torn by grief, I understood: that all matter would have obeyed me like Adam in paradise until the fall, if I had impeccably kept the commandments of God. However, now all matter rises against me: the water drowns, the beast tears, the snake swallows, the lightning burns, the birds turn away, the cattle rage and trample everything, people kill, the bread given to us for food does not satisfy us, and, according to the will of God, we will die. We, endowed with soul and reason and created in the image of God, still do not fulfill the will of our Creator as we should. Oh, holy father Nicholas, don't be angry with me for speaking so boldly, because I do not lose hope of salvation, having you as my helper."

His wife, on the other hand, was pulling out her hair and hitting herself on the cheeks. Finally they reached the city, and, grieved, entered their house. Night came, and then Nicholas the Archbishop of Christ, quick to help all who call upon him, performed a wonderful miracle, the likes of which had not happened in previous times. At night, he took out a drowned child from the river and laid him alive and unharmed in the choir of the temple of Saint Sophia.

When it was time for the morning service, the churchman entered the church and heard a child's cry in the choir. And for a long time he stood wondering, who let the woman into the choir. Then he went to the one who kept order in the choir and began to reprimand him; yet this one made an excuse that he didn't know anything. But the churchman rebuked him: "You were caught red-handed, because a child is yelling in the choir." This frightened him, and when they approached the padlock, they saw that it was unfastened and heard a child's voice. Having climbed to the choir, the child lay in front of the icon of Saint Nicholas all wet with water. Not knowing what to think, he informed the Metropolitan about it. Having served Matins, the Metropolitan sent for the people to gather in the square and to ask them whose child is lying in the choir in the Church of Saint Sophia. All the citizens went to the church, wondering where the child, wet from water, had come to the choir. The child's father also came to see the miracle, and when he saw the child, he recognized him. But, not believing himself, he went to his wife and told her everything in order. And she immediately began to rebuke her husband, saying: "How can you not understand that this is a miracle performed by Saint Nicholas."

She immediately went to the church, recognized her child, and without touching him fell before the icon of Saint Nicholas and prayed with affection and tears. And the husband, standing at a distance, shed tears. Hearing about it, all the people came to see the miracle. And the whole city gathered, praising God and Saint Nicholas. And the Metropolitan prepared an honorable feast, as is done on the day of the celebration of Saint Nicholas, celebrating the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


* The relics of the holy martyrs Boris and Gleb were then still in Vyshgorod Kyiv. And the miracle in question happened between 1087 and 1091. 

History of the Icon After the Miracle

It was because of this event described above that the icon of Nicholas the Wonderworker in Saint Sophia Cathedral during the time of Metropolitan Ephraim (1055-1061) got the name "Nicholas the Wet".

The first scientific study of the icon was carried out before the restoration in 1882 by Adrian Prahov, who dated it to the 10th century and considered it Byzantine in origin. In the 20s of the 20th century, the icon was once again restored by specialists of the All-Ukrainian Museum.

In the fall of 1943, on the eve of the entry of Soviet troops into Kyiv, the icon was taken to Warsaw by Bishop Mstyslav (Skrypnyk) of Pereyaslav. There in 1950 he handed it over to Archbishop Palladii Vydybida-Rudenko (founder of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Exile in 1951), who transported the icon to America. It stayed first in his New York apartment, then, subsequently, Archbishop Palladii had the icon flown from New York to Toronto in 1954 to be delivered to Father Vitalii Sahaidakivskyi in Toronto where it was kept in the church on Queen Street. A special silver 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.

The original then returned to New York in 1963 and kept in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, 185 South 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York.

In April 2022, the Hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA offered intercessory prayers before the historic icon of Saint Nicholas the Wet that was saved from Soviet destruction in the 1940s and brought to the United States of America for safekeeping. Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel, speaking in both languages (Ukrainian and English) stated:

“The spiritual historical legacy of the Saint Nicholas icon unites us these days more than ever with our people and nation of Ukraine. We prayed today for the end of the war in Ukraine - the aggression of Russia against the peaceful people of Ukraine - mothers, children, newborn and unborn, soldiers and elderly, whom Russian soldiers violently slaughter… this icon was saved from the Soviet destruction years ago; today we pray before it for the intercession of Saint Nicholas and deliverance from the Russian military forces in our ancestral homeland Ukraine… when the war ends and peace is restored, at the appropriate time - the icon of Saint Nicholas will take its rightful place at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv - the very heart of Ukrainian nation. We are humbled by the opportunity to safeguard this icon, this national spiritual treasure of Ukraine, for the past 70 years, and long for the day we may return it to Kyiv. We ask all people of faith to pray fervently for Saint Nicholas’ intercession for the good of Ukraine and her people.”

In October 2022, in one of his evening video statements, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the icon of Saint Nicholas the Wet, the first miraculous icon of Kyivan Rus, will return to Ukraine. He said:

"One more news story for today. Long-awaited by many of our people. One of our main shrines will return to Ukraine. One of the most respected shrines of Saint Sophia of Kyiv is the icon of Saint Nicholas the Wet. This is the first miraculous icon in Kyivan Rus. We worked for a long time to return it. And it will be at home, in Saint 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."

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *