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KURSK: May 22, 2007
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus' Address at the End of Divine Liturgy in Znamensky Cathedral in Kursk

Your Eminences! Reverent Bishops! Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters:

First of all, I wish to thank the great Chief Pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ, who granted me the strength to once again make a pilgrimage to this holy place, which is connected with the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. This wondrous holy icon of Kursk, over the course of its long history, has wandered throughout the globe and shone its light upon all its corners.

As the Civil War ended, Archbishop Feofan of Kursk and Oboyan of blessed memory, saving the icon from desecration and possible destruction, took it abroad, to the Russian Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Belgrade. After World War II, the holy icon was taken to our ecclesiastical center and has been kept at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York. From the very beginning, this icon was considered the Hodigitria-Protectress of the Russian diaspora. Not one Church Council Abroad took place without this holy image, without prayers before it that wisdom in church affairs be granted. Our Primates and archpastors escorted this holy icon throughout the continents, and many Orthodox Christians were able to receive this icon in their homes.

Over many decades of church division, the Most-Blessed Mother of God strengthened within us the hope for reconciliation with the much-suffering Church in the Fatherland, which has now emerged from atheist persecution. And this has happened, by Divine mercy. The Most-Holy Virgin also helped us to preserve and nurture the faith through three generations of Russian Orthodox Christians in the difficult circumstances of a heterodox world.

It is with profound satisfaction that I witness the heartfelt relations between the Russian Church Abroad and the Kursk Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, built upon the good traditions of friendship and love in Christ. On this great day of our spiritual communion with all of you, I rejoice that you keep warm in your hearts the faith you received from the forefathers in the Crucified, Resurrected and Ascended Lord, that you strive to live by your faith, manifesting in daily life the words of the Gospel, that you preserve devotion to the Church of God, tirelessly attending and adorning this holy place.

On behalf of my companions, I express to Your Eminences German and Yuvenaly, and your colleagues, the feelings of profound thanks that fills our hearts for your loving invitation to visit you, for the joint prayers which we shared today at Divine Liturgy. The existence of brotherly love between our church and this Diocese provides hope that in the future, our relations will consistently strengthen and benefit our service to God and mankind.

In prayerful memory of this joint service at Divine Liturgy, I ask that you, Your Eminence Vladyko, accept this gift—an icon of St Seraphim of Sarov, holding in his hands the Icon of the Mother of God “of Tenderness.”