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Povch was a village in northeastern Hungary and the place of origin of one of the more notable weeping icons of the Virgin Mary revered among Eastern Rite Roman Catholic Christians. The icon was prepared by Stefan Papp, the brother of the pastor of the local parish church. Originally, the icon was intended for display in the local parish church. The picture of the Virgin was shown holding the infant Jesus, who in turn held a three-petaled lotus in His hand.

The icon was seen to weep for the first time on November 14, 1696. It again was seen to weep on December 8, and on this second occasion the tears continued to flow for eleven days. The event had such impact that the town became known as Mariapovch. Word of the weeping icon reached the royal court of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Vienna. The emperor ordered the icon to be brought to Vienna. By the time that the emperor's representatives arrived to pick up the icon for transport back to Vienna, it had become famous and large crowds gathered at every village on the way back to the capital, and they arrived only after many days' delay. On December 1, 1698, the icon was finally placed in St. Steven's Basilica.

The emperor was so impressed by the devotion shown the icon that he hired another artist to make a duplicate of the original icon, which was then given to the village of Mariapovch. It was carried there in a formal procession. On August 1-3, 1715, this second icon also began to weep, and as a result the parish church became a place of pilgrimage. It again shed tears two centuries later, in December 1905.

The original icon remained in the basilica until World War II (1939-45). As the fighting started, it was hidden away untilafter the war, when it was returned to a new prominent place in the basilica near its entrance. Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants to the United States have continued the veneration that had developed around the icon, and several churches have constructed shrines to house copies of it.

Eastern Roman Catholics are similar to Eastern Orthodox churches and have icons instead of statues. Weeping icons serve the same function in those churches that weeping statues serve in Western or Latin Rite churches.


Weeping Icon of Mariapovch. April 14, 2000.

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