Theotocos The Inexhaustible Cup

18/5 May ( Glorified 1878 )

A peasant from the Efremovskii district of Tula province, a retired soldier, was an alcoholic, and a drunkard . This translates "a passion for drink", which describes the spiritual condition of addiction: being bound by a passion, whether it be for alcohol or anything else. He would drink away all his pension, everything that he possessed, anything that could be found in his house, and eventually he was ruined and literally became a beggar. From excessive drinking, his legs became paralysed, but still he continued drinking. Theotocos

One day, the man, who seemed to have hit rock-bottom, had an unusual dream. In it a venerable old man came to him and said:

"Go to the city of Serpoukhov , to the monastery of the Theotokos. There you will find an icon of the Holy Mother called The Inexhaustible Cup. Have a moleben before it, and you will be healed, both spiritually and physically."

Without a penny to his name, and having no use of his legs, the man did not dare to go on a journey. But the holy man came to him a second and then a third time, and was so adamant in his admonition to obey his instructions, that the poor drunk did not dare to disobey any more, and he set off as quickly as he could, dragging himself on all fours.

In one of the neighbouring villages where he stopped to rest, an old woman took him in for the night. To ease his pain, she massaged his legs, and put him to rest on top of the clay oven, a customary place for the old or sickly, because of the warmth. During the night the travelling man felt a pleasant sensation in his legs, and discovered that he was able to stand. On the following nights his legs became even stronger. And so, first with two walking-sticks, and then with just one, he arrived in Serpoukhov.

Once in the monastery, he told about his visions, and asked to have the moleben served. But nobody there had ever heard of such an icon. They started to search for it, and noticed one that was hanging in the passage to the sacristy [5] , that bore an image of a chalice. On the back of it, to their surprise, was written "The Inexhaustible Cup".

In the icon of St Varlaam [6] , the disciple of the holy bishop Metropolitan Aleksii, the man immediately recognised the face of the holy elder who had appeared to him in his dreams.

From Serpoukhov the man departed, completely healed. The news about the miraculous icon spread quickly through the city, the region, and all of Rus'. Alcoholics ( those bound by the passion of drink ) and their families and friends, were coming to pray before the Mother of God for healing, and in time many came back to thank the all-merciful Theotokos for her speedy help.

Inexhaustible Cup, as the translation is rendered in the first translation, is also rendered Non-intoxicating Chalice, as preferred by some. This icon was nevertheless glorified in the five-hundredth year after the repose of Metropolitan Aleksii (1378), who was later canonised and revered as a wonderworker. The blessed Varlaam, who appeared to the infirm man in the dreams, is listed as uncanonised in the 1892 Tsarist Encyclopaedia. He fell asleep one year earlier than the metropolitan (1377), and his grave is located near the entrance to the monastery chapel. It is noteworthy that not all regarded by the faithful as saints are "officially" canonised.

Text was taken from the site of the Orthodox Research Institute