The Tale of The Destruction of Ryazan - The Tale of St Nicholas of Zarazsk

The Tale of St Nicholas of Zarazsk

As we know from earlier redactions, this first tale located the icon of St. Nicholas precisely in a banquet room of the church of St. James in the city of Korsun (Chersoneses). According to the legends, the icon was from the same church where the Grand Prince Vladimir (I) Sviatoslavovich was baptized; the tale gave details of his miraculous baptism and a feast celebrating the marriage between the Russian Prince and the Byzantine princess Anna. This was followed by an account of “moving” or ”traveling” of the icon as it was escorted by Eustathius from Korsun (корсунянин Евстафий) who was the icon’s “keeper”. The tale about this wonder-working icon was filled with wondrous interventions of St. Nicholas who directed Eustathius around the dangerous Polovtsian lands to the Russian principality of Ryazan. St. Nicholas himself orchestrated the arrival of the icon into Russian lands sending visions to both Eustathius and to the Prince Fedor of Ryazan who came to meet the icon. Likhachev explains this part as an earlier type of the story that traditionally interpreted every event as foreshadowing upcoming catastrophes, Ryazan’s destruction being the divine retribution "казнию божиею". According to medieval scribe, this was a typical causality. The tale about the wonder-working icon described events that were professed to Fedor (his marriage and child). The icon’s story continued in the second part The Tale of Batu’s Capture of Ryazan. The icon’s name “икона чудотворца Николы Заразская” is specifically associated with the location of the death of Fedor’s wife and son. Icon’s story extended beyond this Ryazan episode and the icon was moved to Kolomna in 1513 where it indeed performed some miracles. However, as Likhachev suggests, the name of the city is most likely related to the topographical peculiarities of the region (it has many hollows овраги-зарази). Another detail surviving in some redactions reveals traces of a local legend connected to a name of Fedor’s servant Aponitsa (who survived and managed to bury the body of Fedor Yurievich secretly). Likhachev suggests a link to a name of a village settlement nearby Zaraisk called Aponichishi (Апоничищи).

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