This ancient icon, deeply venerated in Russia and America, has now become the symbol of Russian Christianity in the world
The miraculous Kursk Icon is undoubtedly the most treasured, the most beloved sacred item the Russian Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). ROCOR, a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church, is based in the US and was formed after the Russian Revolution in 1917 as a response to the policy of the Bolsheviks with respect to religion.
The Russians who left Russia were destitute in so many ways: so many had lost their families, and all had lost their homeland. Many turned to the faith for comfort, but even most of their holiest, most valued icons and relics had remained in the Soviet Union, where the government was then persecuting Christianity, destroying churches and desecrating relics.
But the immigrants still had one thing that gave them hope: the ancient Kursk Root Icon, also called Our Lady of Kursk.
The icon dates back to the 13 century. During the Tartar invasion, a lone hunter found it lying next to a tree root in the Russian city of Kursk.
When the Bolsheviks were about to take over Kursk, the White Army (the anti-Bolshevik movement) convinced monks to take the icon with them into exile.
The monks travelled with it for months to safety, suffering cold and starvation. The icon followed the wandering Russian refugees wherever they went: From Serbia to Yugoslavia, to Austria, to Germany, and finally to the US.
It is hard to imagine the depth of the attachment that the members of the Russian Church Abroad have for this icon, a symbol of their old homeland (Russia), but also a symbol of their new life.
The icon has continued to perform miracles. While ROCOR representatives do travel with the icon to different places, it's home base remains New York City
Right now, the icon is visiting its original homeland, the Russian city of Kursk. More than 20,000 pilgrims have already venerated the icon.
Honoring the beloved Russian Christian tradition of cross processions (religious marches), thousands left their house for a cross procession led by clergy, carrying the icon itself.
As Ortho Christian reports, tens of thousands of Russians come to venerate this Russian icon that has now become the symbol of Russian Christianity in America.
An ancient tradition was continued yesterday, with a cross procession (religious marches are a big part of Russian Christianity) setting out in the morning following the Divine Liturgy in the Kursk Hermitage, headed for the city of Kursk. The ancient and miraculous Kursk Root Icon, brought from America by a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), was carried in the solemn procession that gathered thousands, reports Kurskaya Pravda.
Today’s procession was the ninth in a row to take place in the ancient city of Kursk, attracting pilgrims from near and far. This year’s ROCOR delegation is headed by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and Archbishop Mark of Berlin. They arrived to the monastery from Moscow by helicopter on Friday, returning the icon to its ancient homeland where it was discovered in 1259. More than 20,000 pilgrims have already venerated the icon.
The wonderworking icon was joyously met by Kursk natives and guests at the Church of Entrance of the Mother of God, and the procession was joined by Kursk governor Alexander Mikhailov and other regional and city officials at Perekalsky Square. The large stream of people continued along the main street of the city, which the locals lovingly adorned with living flowers.
The miraculous icon arrived at the Znamensky Cathedral to the sound of ringing bells and beautiful chanting. Metropolitan Herman of Kursk and Rylsk and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan then served a moleben before the image of the Mother of God in the cathedral.
The protectress of the Kursk lands will remain in the cathedral until October 2, after which it will be returned to New York with the ROCOR delegation. The miraculous icon will be taken to Kursk medical institutions as a blessing for patients on September 29.
The Kursk Root Icon was taken from Russia to Serbia, then to Germany, and was finally transferred to America by clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, where it had its permanent residence first in the New Kursk Hermitage in Mahopac, N.Y., and then in the Synod's Cathedral Church of the Mother of God of the Sign in New York City, the residence of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.