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KAZAKHSTAN: September 20, 2011
The Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God is Brought to Karaganda

On September 20, 2011, the eve of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the main holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign,which is making a pilgrimage to Kazakhstan with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, was brought to the city of Karaganda.

The miracle-working icon is being accompanied by a delegation of the Russian Church Abroad led by His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain.

At 9 am, after the greeting of the icon at the main church of the Diocese of Karaganda, Vvedensky Cathedral, Divine Liturgy commenced, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan. Vladyka Metropolitan was joined in the service by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakurian (Georgian Orthodox Church); Archbishop Mark; His Eminence Archbishop Anthony of Ural and Guriev; His Eminence Archbishop Elevfery of Chimkent and Akmolin; His Grace Bishop Anatoly of Kostanai and Petropavlovsk; His Grace Bishop Lazar of Narva and Prichudsk; His Grace Bishop Maksim of Barnaul and Altai; His Grace Bishop Sevastian of Karagandin and Shakhtinsk, Administrator of the Karaganda Diocese; Protopriest Mikhail Patrikeev, Dean of the Karaganda Deanery; Protopriest Alexander Kiselyov, Senior Priest of Vvedensky Cathedral; Archimandrite Petr (Goroshko), Spiritual Father of Nativity of the Mother of God Convent in Karaganda; Protopriest Alexander Ugolkov, Dean of the Abai Deanery; heads of the Metropoliate departments, clergymen of the Karaganda Diocese and visiting clergymen from the Borjomi Diocese.

Praying at divine services was Abbess Sevastiana of the Nativity of the Mother of God Convent of Karaganda along with her nuns. Believers from the cities and towns of Karaganda oblast gathered to venerate the Kursk-Root Icon.

Greetings from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York to the believers of Kazakhstan were read.

Divine Liturgy concluded with a moleben before the Kursk-Root Icon and the reliquary of St Sebastian of Karaganda. Metropolitan Alexander, Archbishop Mark and Bishop Sevastian addressed the parishioners and numerous other worshipers with words of congratulations.

Over the course of the entire day, molebens and akathists were performed before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God in Vvedensky Cathedral. Thousands of Orthodox Christians were able to venerate the great holy icon of Orthodoxy, seeking spiritual strength and consolation. In memory of the visit, paper copies of the icon were distributed.

In the afternoon, the head of the Metropolitan District and the other archpastors taking part in the celebrations consecrated a construction site with a cross and cornerstone for a new cathedral dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St Sebastian, Elder of Karaganda. This church is destined to be the main church of the Karaganda Diocese.

The Akim (Governor) of Karaganda, Mr Serik Nygmetovich Akhmetov, came to congratulate the archpastors, clergymen and laity on this great event. Metropolitan Alexander introduced Mr Akhmetov to Metropolitan Seraphim and Archbishop Mark, who were visiting for the first time. The significance of the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to the land of Kazakhstan for veneration was discussed, and how it is helping heal the moral situation in society, and serving to strengthen international and inter-religious peace and concord in the region.

After the consecration of the new cathedral site, the archpastors visited the place where St Sebastian performed his spiritual podvigi, the Nativity of the Mother of God Convent. After prayers there and the veneration of the local holy relics, the visitors met with Abbess Sevastiana and the nuns and were given a tour of the grounds, including the memorial cell of the holy confessor.

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