СКОПСКАТА БОГОРОДИЦА ТРОЕРУЧИЦА
SUMMARY: MOTHER OF GOD TRIHEIROUSA FROM SKOPJE
Според достъпните исторически извори през XIII век в Скопие е съществувала особено почитана чудотворна неръкотворна икона Богородица Троеручица. Църквата, в която се е пазела иконата, е била първо епископска, след това митрополитска, като е съществувала до XVII в. Освен в града, в близките околности е имало още една църква със същото посвещение. Чудотворната икона е била пренесена, най-вероятно в края на XIV в. в манастира Хилендар, днес не съществува. През XVI в. в Русия е записана легенда за иконата, според която в нея Богородица е поддържала Младенеца с трета ръка, която се е появила сама. Въз основа на този разказ се търсят реплики на изчезналата икона, от XIV до XVIII и XIX в.
In 1559, Hilendar monks visited Russia and told about the miraculous icons in their cloister and the story was put in writing. According to this authentic source, the icon Virgin Tricherousa, was donated to the monastery by a noblewoman from Skopje at the time of the captivity (the Turkish conquest). The story about the icon is the following. The Metropolitan of Skopje ordered to paint an icon of the Virgin Mary. The master began to work, and went home. In the morning he saw that there is a third hand in the icon, holding the Child. He realized that he was a witness of a miracle and told the Metropolitan about it. The noblewoman took the icon so to keep it in her home. Furthermore, in the place where the icon stood, appeared her “self-painted” image. A few years later, Hilendar moncs came to collect money for tax for the ungodly Turks. The noblewoman who honored Hilendar decided to donate the icon. She asked for a donkey to be prepared and to load the icon. Meanwhile, she began to give treat to the monks. Upon going out, they did not find the donkey. The very same day the animal carrying the miraculous image was found to be in Hilendar. The analysis of the legend reveal that it had originated during the Ottoman period and that by the middle of the 16th century it might have already become quite old. According to the legend, the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos Tricherousa had a third hand that held the Child, but there is no other specific information about its iconographic type.
In Skopje there really existed a church of the Most Holy Theotokos Tricherousa, which was destroyed by the Turks before the middle of the 17th century and its exact location is still unknown today.
In a chrysobullon of the Serbian King Milutin about the Skopje monastery “St. George Gorg” from the year 1300, the church of the Most Holy Theotokos Tricherousa was mentioned several times. The context of the passages in the chrysobullon, where the church is mentioned, makes it possible to assume that it is not a matter of only one church. Apparently, at the beginning of the 14th century, the legend of the miraculous image already had a long prehistory, and apart from the church in the city, there probably existed another one in the nearby vicinities. In the time of king Dushan Skopje was the capital of Serbia, Virgin Triheirousa was a cathedral church, and obviously its miraculous image was considered to be a palladium of the capital.
We could acknowledge a connection with the famous Skopje image in the fresco icon of the Virgin Mary on the chancel barrier in the White Church of Karan (1340-2), the fresco icon in the church of Matejce (middle of the 14th c.), the patron image of the Virgin Mary with Child in a niche on the western façade of the church in the Matka Monastery near Skopje (1496/7), an icon of the Triheirousa in the church of the town of Dunavtsi next to Vidin by Avram Dichov (1886).