SYNOD OF BISHOPS: December 12, 2004


Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Protectress of the Russian Church Abroad, Visits St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral


On December 12, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria ["protectress"] of the Russian diaspora, visited St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York. There, Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, along with his clergymen and God-preserved flock, prayed and performed a service of supplication before this oldest of holy items of the Russian Church. This Icon healed the young Prokhor, later St Seraphim of Sarov, whose 250th anniversary the entire Russian Church is celebrating this year. As instructed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the miracle-working icon was escorted by Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Senior Priest of the Synodal Cathedral, and Priest Serafim Gan of the Synodal Administration, along with several acolytes from their Cathedral. Before heading for St Nicholas Cathedral with the icon, the clergymen performed a moleben before the icon in St Sergius Chapel on the main floor of the Synodal building, asking the prayers and intercession of the Most-Pure Mother of God before the beginning of a good work.

The main holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was ceremoniously greeted at the main entrance of St Nicholas Cathedral by clergymen in their vestments, headed by Protopriest Alexander Golubov and a large contingent of parishioners and worshipers. Divine liturgy commenced, conducted by the clergymen of St Nicholas Cathedral and of other Patriarchal parishes in the US. During divine service. Priest Andre Papkov, a clergyman directly subject to Metropolitan Laurus, the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, prayed also. The Cathedral's clergymen administered communion from three chalices. By this time, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff of the Synodal Cathedral arrived after liturgy concluded at the Synodal Cathedral. At the end of the service, Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk headed a moleben with an akathist to the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, the service used being that of the Russian Church Abroad, with the first ikos: "The angels marveled, beholding thee going before us in thine icon, as in a pillar of fire, in our great exodus from a land enslaved by the iniquitous, O Mistress. For it is not Moses, but thee thyself that we have as a guid in our sorrowful hourney. Wherefore, we cry out to thee in gratitude: Rejoice, blessed directress, Rejoice, Mother of the true WayÉ"After the moleben, Bishop Merkury and the Consul General of the Russian Federation, Sergei Viktorovich Garmonin, spoke, and Protopriest Andrei Sommer read the text of the"Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, on the Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to St Nicholas Cathedral in New York":

"To His Grace

Bishop MERKURY of Zaraisk

Your Grace

Right Reverend Vladyka!

Deeply-respected Sergei Viktorovich!

Dear in the Lord clergy, parishioners and worshipers of St Nicholas Cathedral!

I greet you with all my heart, Right Reverend Vladyka, and all the participants of today's celebration on this Sunday, this little Pascha of Christ, when St Nicholas Cathedral is visited by the Most-Blessed Virgin Mary through Her Kursk-Root Icon, which is the Hodigitria, that is, the Guide, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the faithful children of the God-preserved Russian people in the diaspora.

In 1919, the Kursk-Root Icon, escorted by Archbishop Feofan of Kursk and Oboyan and a few brethren of Znamensky Monastery, burning with the desire to preserve the holy icon from desecration by the Bolsheviks, left the Russian Land and ended up in our fraternal Serbian land. In 1920, at the request of General Wrangel, who is now buried at Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade, the Icon returned to Russia and remained in the Crimea until the great evacuation of General Wrangel's Russian Army in early November, 1920, when the holy Icon returned to Serbia, where it remained until 1944. Then, together with Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky, +1965) of blessed memory, along with the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Icon departed for Germany. Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy, the second First Hierarch of the part of the Russian Church located abroad, moved from Munich to the USA in 1950. Since 1957, the Kursk-Root Icon has resided at the Cathedral of the Synod of Bishops of the Church Abroad on 93rd Street. The Icon regularly travels throughout the dioceses of the Russian diaspora, visiting all corners of the world, wherever Russian Orthodox people live, bringing them consolation and strength. During one such trip in the Western American Diocese, the great saint of the Church Abroad, Archbishop John of Shanghai and San Francisco (Maximovich, +1966) died before the Icon. He now rejoices with the Queen of Heaven, our Mother of God, abiding among the host of saints together with St Seraphim, who as a youth received healing from this Icon, along with many other saints of our Fatherland who prayed before this miraculous Icon.

And so, since 1920, the presence of our Protectress of Kursk illuminates and blesses our celebrations, the sessions of the Synod of Bishops, the work of the Council of Bishops and other events in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, showing us the way in the modern world. And now, as always, we fervently pray before Her to heal those wounds which were inflicted upon the Body of the Russian Church in the 20th century, so that Christ's peace would reign in the All-Russian Local Church; that very peace of which the Lord spoke to His disciples: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (John 14:27), so that the healing process of the division would be successful and would lead us to unity in mutual repentance and truth. May this historic event help us to develop the experience of brotherly cooperation and peaceful and amicable witness of the Resurrected Christ and the truth of Orthodoxy here, in the USA. For this shall we pray without ceasing, dear in the lord Right Reverend Vladyka, fathers, brethren and sisters.

Let us pray to the Most-Holy Virgin Mother of God that She helps us heal all the wounds in our church life.

With love in the Lord,

+Metropolitan Laurus
First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad

November 30/December 12, 2004"

The Kursk Protectress was venerated by the faithful until three o'clock, when a farewell moleben began, performed by the clergy of the Cathedral, after which the Icon returned to Her home, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign at the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on 93rd Street and Park Avenue in New York City.