There is no account on the origins of the type of icon known as “The Seeker of the Lost”, but there are many accounts of the miracles performed, particularly for those on the brink of death.
One such miracle states how in the mid-1700s on the feast of Theophany, a devout man named Thedotus Obukhov became lost in a blizzard. Facing the exhaustion of his horse, he lay down in his sleigh, but quickly began to freeze. He began to pray unceasingly to the Theotokos, vowing that if he were rescued, he would have a “Seeker of the Lost” icon written and donated to the local church. Some time later the half-frozen Obukhov saw a peasant, who rescued him. The peasant informed him that he had heard a voice near his window say, “Take him”; walking to the door he saw Obukhov.
When Obukhov recovered, he did as he had promised, and had an icon of the Theotokos, “The Seeker of the Lost” donated to the local church of St. George, where many miracles were performed through it.
There are many other icons of “The Seeker of the Lost”, but one of the most intriguing cases is the icon in the Cathedral of the Glorious Resurrection in Moscow. Its final owner was a widower with three unmarried daughters who was on the brink of poverty—that is, until his prayers answered all of his concerns. Feeling that he was unworthy to have the icon in his home, he gave it to the Cathedral.
In 1812, the invading French pillaged the Cathedral, and the icon was broken into three pieces. After it was recovered amongst the rubble, the Theotokos continued to work many miracles through it: brides pray before the icon prior to their wedding; those who are impoverished, alcoholic or ill, pray to the Panagia, hoping to be saved.