The Martyr Igor was briefly the Grand-Prince of Kiev during the 12th century – a time of conflict within the principality. Breaking their oaths, the nobles of Kiev rose up against Prince Igor, imprisoned him in a windowless log-house, and installed their own preferred candidate. Later, he was allowed to go into exile, to the Theodorov monastery.
Away from the political scheming, St Igor embraced the monastic life and spent his time in prayer. However, the new rulers of Kiev, determined to wipe out Igor’s family line, could not allow the prince-monk to remain alive, and incited a mob to violence. Whilst praying during the Liturgy, St Igor was dragged out of the monastery by the mob and brutally murdered, and hung him in the market place.
Before Igor was dragged from the monastery, he was praying before an icon of the Mother of God. Therefore, as Igor was recognized over time as a holy passion-bearer and intercessor before God, so too was the icon he prayed before revered in connection with him. Named Igorevskaya (Игоревская) after the prince-monk, the icon was – and still is – honoured on Jun 5 (or Jun 18 according to the civil calendar) by the Church, the same date as the translation of St Igor’s relics to the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Chernigov. The original icon itself was moved to the Cathedral of St John in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, where it remained until the beginning of the 20th century. It’s current whereabouts are unknown, though many copies have been made of the holy image which do survive. Therefore, even though the original icon – which was probably of Greek origin – is lost to the world, the image itself is still celebrated on this day, along with all its faithful copies.