Reliable information about the origin of the ‘Seeker-out of the Lost” Icon has not survived. There exist several miraculous icons bearing that name, icons through which the Mother of God has shown her mercy toward people who had already crossed the threshold of perdition.
In the mid-17th Century, in the village of Bor in Kaluga Province, while traveling on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord a pious peasant named Theodot Obukhov was caught up in a blizzard. His exhausted horses stopped at an impassible ravine. Seeing no means to save himself, Obukhov lay down in his sleigh and began to fall asleep, unconscious of the fact that he would freeze to death. However, in those awful moments, he called out with all his being to the Queen of Heaven for help, and promised to make for his parish church a “Seeker-out of the Lost Icon. She heard his heart-felt prayer: In a neighboring village, a certain peasant suddenly heard a voice coming from outside his window, and saying “Take [him].” He went out and saw Obukhov, half-frozen, in his sleigh. Upon recovering, Obukhov immediately kept his promise and ordered a copy of the Icon from the Church of St. George in the town of Volkhov, Orel Province. From that time on, the Bor “Seeker-out of the Lost” Icon gained renown for a multitude of miraculous signs and wonders. Other miraculous “Seeker-out of the Lost” that have gained renown include: one from the village of Malizhin, Kharkov Province, that appeared in 1770 and on three occasions saved the villagers from a cholera epidemic; one from the village of Krasnoe, Chernigov Province, and one from Voronezh, Kozlov Tambov Province. In 1835 a church dedicated to the “Seeker-out of the Lost” Icon was consecrated at the Alexandrov Orphans’ Institute in Moscow.
Of special interest is the tradition related to the “Seeker-out of the Lost” Icon of the Mother of God in the Moscow church known as the Church of the Resurrection (in honor of the dedication of the Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Jerusalem). That icon had been translated from the Church of the Nativity of Christ on Palashev Lane. Its last owner, was a widower on the brink of utter poverty. His fervent prayers to the Most-holy Theotokos saved him from despair and decided the fate of his orphaned children. The man considered himself unworthy of having a miraculous icon in his home, and gave it to the church. In 1812 the French looted the Palashev church. The desecrated Holy Icon was found, broken into three pieces, lying amid all kinds of rubbish. The finding of the Icon was accompanied by a multitude of miraculous healings. Brides would turn to the Icon to ask for a marriage that was unto salvation. People who had fallen into alcoholism, who were perishing in poverty, or who suffered from diseases, came to her in prayer, as did mothers whose children were perishing. To all, the Queen of Heaven sends down her assistance and support.