Arrival Icon of the Three-Handed Virgin
With this text, we will try to go back to the now long-ago year 1998. For today’s circumstances, any era that took place before the beginning of the spread of the Internet, across these areas, is ranked as “long ago”.
So, to return to the Vraćevšnica monastery in that year, we had to borrow the memory of the witnesses and actors of the events of that year.
We asked what one of our Milanovac’s priests, Archpriest Milenko T. Milovančević remembers, and one of the sisters, sister T. who was a at trial at that time.
The year 1998 was marked by the visit of the icon of the Mother of God called “Three-Handed”, and that visit is what will remain forever in the memory of our interlocutors.
“I remember everything, of course, as if it were yesterday. Bishop Stefan was alive at that time. That year I became the elder of the Holy Trinity Church, with his blessing. A lot of work was done on the temple in Milanovac, a new parish house was built, we organized religious education, many lectures, devotional trips… and the time was atheistic and not favorable to the church.
And then, as if by some miracle, an icon appeared in Serbia, arrived to encourage us all. It traveled from Hilandar to us, via the Ljubostinje monastery. It was August 20, 1998. She stayed in Vraćevšnica for five days. The people covered everything around like a sea. Rudnički region, Gružanski and Takovski. From all villages and towns. The icon was welcomed by our Bishop Stefan Žički and Nikanor Gornjokarlovački. The sisters, headed by Abbess Evdokia, were solemnly waiting. The priests there were Archpriest Zoran Miloradović and Priest Dragan Vučićević. And how many other priests were there… I can only say – a lot. We took turns and “guarded” the icon day and night. All the services, akathists, Liturgies, prayers for the people… they talked about the miracles that happened. It was like heaven. Five days without stopping. People just enter the church. When she left the monastery, I had the honor of welcoming her as an elder in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Milanovac, before she continued to Čačak. She woke us all up at that time, and no one was the same after that. Now I am already retired, I have been through a lot since my native Dragačevo region and my schooling in Kaona and later in Belgrade. But that visit and that blessing will always shine vividly before my eyes.”
“I was just on a trial then. There were more of us young sisters. What delighted me was when Mother Abbess blessed us to weave a huge wreath of our flowers with which we will welcome the Mother of God. I was barely alive with joy when I saw her. It was worn by priests. There were many people. It was endless. The monastery did not close for five days and nights. The column was not interrupted. Day and night, people stood to approach the icon. Every day of the Liturgy, everyone was served and no one left hungry. We didn’t sleep. That grace carried us like a force. We only took care of that people and that we spent a lot of time in the church next to the icon – we didn’t, but the mere thought that she was there was enough. Divna Ljubojević was a guest at the services with her group. She taught us to sing the chorus of the Akathist. Continuous prayers that just went on and on. When the icon left us, we all saw her off. It was a shocking parting. I remember a small child who was brought as a small baby and placed in front of the icon for blessing… it was later in the monastery with his parents visiting and since he could not speak well yet, he just pointed to the icon of the Three-Journal and reached out to her and it didn’t calm down until his parents bought him something to take with him. Unbelievable… even that little child remembered Her visit. I will remember her as long as I live. And now I read the akathist every day. It rings in my ears: “Rejoice, our Helper, who helps us with the Your Three-Handed Icon.”