Sunday, 6 May 2012

Kursk Root Icon

The Kursk Root Icon of Our Mother of God of “The Sign” is again to visit the church of Saint
Elizabeth in Wallasey on Friday 11th May. Hierarchical Vespers will be served at 5:30pm,
followed by a Molieben.
Many of our parish have been to venerate this wonderworking icon in the past and have
reported it to be very special occasion.
The icon dates from the 13th century when
during the dreadful period of the Tartar
invasion of Russia, the province of Kursk and
its principle city, Kursk, was emptied of
people and became a wilderness. Residents
of the city of Rylsk often journeyed there to
hunt wild beasts and one of the hunters,
going along the bank of the river Skal, noticed
an icon lying face down next to the root of a
tree. The hunter picked it up ad noticed that
it was an icon of the Sign, such as that which
was enshrined and venerated in the city of
Novgorod. There and then the first miracle
happened as there immediately gushed forth
an abundant spring of pure water.
The hunter constructed a chapel and placed
the icon within it. Many more miracles
followed and pilgrims came to venerate the icon from Rylsk. Prince Vasily Shemyaka of
Rylsk ordered the icon to be brought to the city of Rylsk itself and the people went to
venerate it with great festivity. The Prince however declined to attend and was punished
with blindness. Straightaway, the Prince repented and received healing. Moved by this
miracle, Shemyaka constructed a church in honour of the Nativity of the All-Holy Theotokos
and there the icon was enshrined. But the icon vanished and returned to the place of its
appearance against the root of the tree by the river Skal. The residents of Rylsk continually
brought the icon back to the new church but each time it returned to its former place.
Eventually, the icon was left there in peace and innumerable pilgrims streamed to the site.
In the years since, the life of the icon has been at times turbulent. In 1383 during a new
Tartar invasion, the icon was cut in two when the chapel refused to burn at their hands and the pious Priest Bogoliub was imprisoned. In his capitivity, the God-loving elder kept the
faith, placing his hope in the Mother of God. One day, his chanting was heard by some
passing emissaries of the Tsar of Moscow who arranged to ransom the Priest from his
captivity. Upon returning to the little chapel by the tree, Bogoliub found the two pieces of
the icon. He picked them up and they immediately grew together, although signs of the
split in the wood remain.
It is well worth reading some of the many books about the icon, visiting its website at Best of all - visit the icon and venerate it
yourself on 11th May!