Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Ash Grove, Missouri
The Unexpected Joy of Forgiveness
by Catie Tuggle (age 12)

Our church is dedicated to the icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God), "Unexpected Joy." It is our tradition to share this story with the all the members of the parish, adults and children, and with visitors as well. This beautiful and powerful account shows the greatness of prayer and repentance, and the love of the Mother of God.

The original story of the icon was recorded by St. Demetrius of Rostov. In the icon, you see a man kneeling before an image of the Theotokos and her Son. Beneath the icon is written the beginning lines of the story.

The man, a great sinner, prayed each day before the icon of the Theotokos. Once, before going out to sin, he saw that Mary was standing before him, holding her Son in her arms. On His feet and hands were fresh wounds, and blood poured from the wound in his side.

The sinner asked in fear, "Who has done this?" The Mother of God replied, "Every time you and others deliberately sin, you crucify my Son." The sinner wept, and asked God's forgiveness. The Theotokos said that though the man prayed before her every day, he still offended and hurt her by his sins. "Oh no," the sinner cried. "May my wrongs not outweigh your great kindness and mercy! Please forgive me, and pray to your Son on my behalf!"

Seeing that the man was truly repenting, the Mother of God asked her Son to forgive him. For the sake of His Mother, the Lord granted forgiveness to the repentant sinner, and the man lived a pious Christian life for the rest of his days.

Contents copyright 2021 Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Orthodox Church.