May 8th: Our Lady of Smolensk (5)
In 1812, Napoleon enters Russia, with the intent to spread his revolutionary and freemason ideas. The tsar at the time, Alexander I, does not want these ideas penetrating Russia and leads his army into battle. Before one of the most important battles, the battle of Smolensk, the Russians invoked the ‘Hodigitria of Smolensk’ to come to their aid. On the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows, on August 5, 1812, the Russians carried a copy of the Icon with them to the camp. Before the battle, the Icon was taken around the camp to bless and strengthen the moral of the troops. The original Hodigitria, together with the Iveron and Vladimir Icons, were carried in procession through the streets of Moscow and to the sick and wounded in the Lefortovsky Court. General Kutusov is also said to have toured the Russian Army preceded by the Virgin of Smolensk, with Orthodox priests praying and sprinkling the faithful with holy water.
Despite having lost the battle of Smolensk and suffered a high number of casualties, the Russians were eventually successful at halting Napoleon’s advance. Our Lady was credited for having protected the Russian Army and Nation, not only in winning the war, but in stopping the ideas of the French Revolution from entering Her protected nation.