Flowering the Dramatic 'Theotokos of Tikhvin' Icon

I love to share with you the work I did with my team in Kyrgyzstan.

By: PETR ANOKHIN | 12-07-2023 | 4 min read
Floral Designs
Theotokos of Tikhvin Icon header on Thursd

Hello, dear friends! I would like to share more about the work my team and I accomplished on the celebration day of the Miraculous Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Tikhvin. It was an honor to contribute to the historic occasion in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, that attracted many devoted believers to participate in this divine tradition.

The Most Holy Theotokos of Tikhvin Icon

The Theotokos of Tikhvin (Tihvinskaja ikona Božiej Materi) is one of the most celebrated Orthodox Christian icons. The celebration in memory of this miraculous icon is an event of great significance for the Orthodox Christians of Kyrgyzstan. For over thirteen decades, the copy of the 'Tikhvin Tearful' icon, gifted in the 19th century by the monks of the holy Mount Athos has been preserved at the Issyk-Kul Monastery. This holy image has witnessed many trials and tribulations alongside the Orthodox people during atheistic times. They shot at the icon, they tried to destroy it.

Still, by the grace of God, it remained safe and intact, testifying to the strength of faith. In the 1950s, a fire broke out in the temple where the icon was located, which was miraculously stopped right in front of the icon. The fire only slightly touched the back of the board.


Petr Anokhin Tikhvin


Petr Anokhin


Adorning This Sacred Image

The long-standing tradition of adorning this sacred image with flowers, observed from July 8 to 9, is as much part of the memory as the icon itself. In the past, the image was decorated with a modest wreath made of wildflowers mixed with garden plants available during that period, a process revered as sacred, demonstrating the deep-rooted love and respect for the icon. The constructions that our grandmothers used to attach a flower wreath to a square frame have been preserved in the temple. The flower was carefully laid and braided with ordinary threads for sewing. This sacrament was preceded by a collection of flowers. Almost every family of parishioners of the temple brought flowers to decorate the icon. The tradition has been preserved to this day.


Trinity Church Karakol


As a floral designer, it was both an honor and a responsibility to extend this tradition, paying homage to the history of the Tikhvin Tearful while giving it a modern touch. We decided to add more flower species to the traditional wreath, honoring the icon with a rich tapestry of blooms representing the many blessings and miracles it symbolizes.



This year, we used peonies, symbolizing the divine grace of the Mother of God, and lilacs for their gentle yet powerful scent, a beautiful representation of her presence. We included white roses in the arrangement to signify purity and heavenly love, their elegance reminding us of the constant faith and love of the Orthodox community.

The process of creating this floral arrangement was deeply spiritual, each bloom placed with reverence and prayer. The sight of the final arrangement was a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation, enhancing the significance of the celebration.


Theotokos of Tikhvin


An Unforgettable Experience

The day of the celebration was an unforgettable experience, as the Holy Trinity Church in Karakol bloomed with faith and love. The decorated icon, surrounded by thousands of devout followers, radiated an aura of divine grace. The sight of believers taking a flower from the wreath, as per tradition, added to the aura of collective faith and shared joy.


Floral Chandelier


Many pilgrims from different countries come to the Holy Trinity Church in Karakol to worship the Great Shrine on the day of its memory. For little Karakol, this is a significant event. These days, a part of the city, near the temple, is blocked. The number of Orthodox pilgrims solemnly accompanying the image decorated with flowers sometimes reaches five thousand people.

After the solemn service, many take one flower from the wreath to take their hopes and aspirations with them.


Trinity Church Karakol


More Than a Floral Arrangement

Each event I participate in as a floral designer leaves a unique imprint on me, and this occasion was no different. The blend of faith, tradition, and community I witnessed on this day was truly heartening. It was more than just creating a floral arrangement—it was about contributing to a sacred tradition while respecting its sanctity and history.


Floral garland


As we look forward to more such events, this experience serves as a beautiful reminder of the richness of our traditions. It taught us the importance of maintaining the essence of tradition while allowing for creativity and innovation. May we continue to honor our heritage in new, beautiful ways, much like the Tikhvin Tearful icon, standing majestically amidst a sea of believers, adorned with flowers, a testament to the enduring power of faith.

Petr Anokhin profile picture
Petr Anokhin

I was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan. My hometown is located on the shores of a very beautiful mountain lake Issyk-Kul. Have you ever wondered at what point in the development of civilization people began to tame wild plants as entertainment, enjoying their ephemeral beauty? My history of relationship with plants began very early, at about 6 years old. At this early age I was already interested in the topic of the history of varieties and species, and the diversity of the flower & plant world. Plants, like humans, have their own past, present and future.


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