The Clergy and Parishioners of the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," Headed by Archbishop Kyrill, Greet the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God


One of the most revered icons in North America is the Sitka Icon of the Mother of God. It is kept in Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska. This icon was ordered by St Innocent (Veniaminov) of Moscow, the first ruling bishop of North America. The Cathedral of Archangel Michael in Sitka received this icon as a gift in 1850, two years after the completion of its construction.

Over the course of many years, miracles would happen after prayers before this miracle-working image. The opinion exists among the faithful of Alaska that it is specifically the gaze of the Mother of God through the Sitka icon that heals those who pray before Her. Many received healing to their vision after such prayers.

The placid visage of the Mother of God in this icon is described as "a pearl of Russian ecclesiastical art, pearly tenderness, purity and harmony..." and "the most beautiful face of the Theotokos and the divine Son She holds. The execution of this icon is so fine and artistic that the more one looks at it, the more difficult it is to look away."

At first, the Sitka Icon was part of the main iconostasis of Archangel Michael Cathedral. In 1966, the church burned down, but the Sitka icon miraculously survived. Now, in the rebuilt temple, a special place for this icon was erected to the left of the iconostasis.

From September 7 to November 7, the Sitka Icon is visiting over 60 parishes on the North American continent. Ruling Bishop Nicholas of the Alaskan Diocese of the Orthodox Church of America suggested that it visit the Cathedral of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in San Francisco. With the blessing of Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, the Sitka Icon was greeted by an enormous gathering of worshipers, after which a moleben was served along with an akathist to the Most-Holy Mother of God. The akathist was sung antiphonally by the clergy and the Cathedral Choir. Almost all the clergymen of the San Francisco Deanery participated in the services. Representatives of the Moscow and Jerusalem Patriarchates, and of the OCA, also prayed at the services. Archbishop Kyrill spent over an hour anointing those who came to venerate the miracle-working icon.

After the akathist, a reception was held for the clergymen of the Alaskan Diocese. They spoke about the Sitka Icon, about St Herman of Alaska and about life in the oldest diocese in North America. The following morning, the Sitka Icon visited the Cathedral's St John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy.

Protopriest Peter Perekrestov