The “Chernigov-Gethsemane” Icon of the Mother of God

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the famed Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God (April 16), which was to be found at the Trinity-Ilyin monastery near Chernigov on Mount Boldina, and where in the eleventh century Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves struggled in asceticism.

Saint Demetrius of Rostov described the miracles of this icon in his book THE BEDEWED FLEECE. He wrote in conclusion: “The end of the booklet, but not of the miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos, for who can count them?” The grace-bearing power of this icon is manifest also in its copies.

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the mid-eighteenth century and was passed on to the Trinity Sergiev Lavra in 1852 by Alexandra Grigorievna Philippova, who piously kept it for a quarter century. (This icon was given to her by the priest John Alekseev, who received it in turn from one of the monks of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra.)

On the advice of the head of the Lavra, Archimandrite Anthony (+ May 1, 1877), the icon was placed in the newly-consecrated cave church named for Saint Michael, Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, which was consecrated on October 27, 1851 by Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (November 19), who assumed an active role in the building of the Gethsemane skete.

In this manner, the icon took in the currents of grace of all the history of the Russian Church, it acquired the blessing of Saint Anthony of the Caves, of Saint Sergius of Radonezh and of his parents Saints Cyril and Maria (September 28), and finally, of the ascetics of the nineteenth century. These spiritual connections providentially come forth through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.

It is remarkable that the first miracle of this icon was witnessed on the day of the Church New Year, September 1, 1869, when the twenty-eight-year-old peasant of Tula governance, Thekla Adrianova, was healed, after being completely crippled for nine years.

Living at the hostel by the caves, and then at the Lavra during the celebration of the Repose of Saint Sergius (September 25), Thekla recovered completely. Saint Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow (October 6 and March 31), learned of the miracle from his daughter the nun Polyxeni, treasurer of the Borisov wilderness monastery. On the feast of Saint Sergius, he himself met with Thekla and asked her about the details of the healing. On September 26, 1869 Saint Innocent arrived at the Gethsemane skete and gave the blessing for a Molieben to be served before the glorified icon, while he himself prayed with tears.

By September 26 three healings had occurred already, and a whole series of miracles in November of that same year. The fame of the icon of the Mother of God spread with unusual swiftness. Exhausted by suffering and sickness, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, people from every class of society came with firm faith to the wonderworking icon, and the mercy of God did not forsake them.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100 miracles had been recorded. By its great esteem the icon benefited the ascetics of the Gethsemane skete: the schemamonk Philip (+ May 18, 1868), the founder of the cave monastery, and his three sons, the hieroschemamonks Ignatius (+ 1900), Porphyrius (+ 1905 ?) and Basil (+ April 1, 1915). They preserved accounts of the deep love, which the hieromonk Elder Isidore (+ February 3, 1908) displayed for the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon.

The initial celebration of the icon was established on April 16, on the day when Ilyin-Cherigov icon was celebrated. Later, it was transferred to September 1, the day of its glorification. At the present time there are copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane icon at Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. They are found in the temple of Saint Sergius, in the monastery trapeza, and in the portico of the Trinity cathedral, painted by Elders of the Gethsemane skete and the Zosimov wilderness monastery.

Source: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2012/09/01/102458-chernigov-gethsemane-icon-of-the-mother-of-god

Икона Богородицы Черниговская-Гефсиманская

Черниговская-Гефсиманская икона Божией Матери является списком с прославленной Черниговской-Ильинской иконы Божией Матери, которая находилась в Троицком Ильинском монастыре близ Чернигова, на Болдиной горе, где в XI в. некоторое время подвизался преподобный Антоний Печерский. Описанию чудес от этой иконы, начавшихся 16 – 24 апреля 1662 года, святитель Димитрий Ростовский посвятил книгу “Руно Орошенное”, заканчивая которую он писал: “Конец книжки, но не чудес Пресвятой Богородицы, ибо кто может их исчислить”. Благодатная сила этой иконы проявилась и в ее списках.

Икона Божией Матери Черниговская-Гефсиманская была написана на полотне в XVIII в. и передана в 1852 году в Троице-Сергиеву Лавру Александрой Григорьевной Филипповой, благоговейно хранившей ее у себя четверть века. (К ней эта икона перешла как благословение хотьковского священника Иоанна Алексеева, которому, в свою очередь, она досталась от одного из монахов Троице-Сергиевой Лавры.) По совету наместника Лавры архимандрита Антония (+ 1мая 1877) икона была помещена в новоустроенном пещерном храме в честь святого Архистратига Михаила, который был освящен 27 октября 1851 года митрополитом Московским Филаретом (+ 19 ноября 1867), принимавшим деятельное участие в строительстве Гефсиманского скита. Таким образом, икона впитала благодатные токи всей истории Русской Церкви, она стяжала благословения преподобного Антония Печерского, Преподобного Сергия Радонежского, его родителей, схимонахов Кирилла и Марии (+ 1337; заупокойная литургия по ним с чтением специальной молитвы совершается 28 сентября и в четверток седмицы мытаря и фарисея), и, наконец, подвижников XIX в. Эти духовные связи промыслительно обнаружились через Черниговскую-Гефсиманскую икону Божией Матери.

Знаменательно, что первое чудо от этой иконы было засвидетельствовано в день церковного Новолетия – 1 сентября 1869 года, когда от полного расслабления, продолжавшегося в течение 9 лет, исцелилась 28-летняя крестьянка Тульской губернии Фекла Адрианова. Прожив в гостинице при пещерах, а потом в Лавре до празднования преставления Преподобного Сергия (25 сентября), Фекла совершенно выздоровела. Святитель Иннокентий, митрополит Московский (1797 – 1879; память 23 сентября и 31 марта), узнал о чуде от своей дочери, казначеи Борисовской пустыни, монахини Поликсении. На празднике Преподобного Сергия он сам встретился с Феклой и расспрашивал ее обо всех обстоятельствах исцеления. 26 сентября 1869 года святитель Иннокентий прибыл в Гефсиманский скит и благословил совершить молебное пение пред прославившейся иконой и сам молился со слезами.

До 26 сентября произошло еще три благодатных исцеления и целый ряд чудес в ноябре того же года. Слава иконы Божией Матери распространялась с необычайной быстротой. Измученные страданиями и болезнями, жаждущие телесного и духовного исцеления, люди самых разных сословий с твердой верой шли к чудотворной иконе, и милость Божия не оставляла их. К началу XX в. было засвидетельствовано более 100 чудес. Большим почитанием пользовалась икона у подвижников Гефсиманского скита: у схимонаха Филиппа (+ 18 мая 1868), основавшего пещеры, у его трех сыновей – иеросхимонахов Игнатия (+ 1900), Порфирия (+ 1905?) и Василия (+ 1 апреля 1915). Сохранились сведения о той глубокой любви, которую проявлял к Черниговской-Гефсиманской иконе старец иеромонах Исидор (+ 3 февраля 1908). Первоначально празднование иконе было установлено 16 апреля, в тот же день, что и празднование Черниговской-Ильинской иконе, а затем перенесено на день прославления – 1 сентября. Ныне в Троице-Сергиевой Лавре известны чтимые списки с Черниговской-Гефсиманской иконы в храме в честь Преподобного Сергия, в монастырской трапезной и в притворе Троицкого собора, писанные старцами Гефсиманского скита и Зосимовой пустыни.

The Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

Dear brothers and sisters,  

Greetings, as we celebrate the Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos in 1579, when, after the devastating fire which destroyed much of the city, the Most Holy Mother of God revealed the location of her wondrous icon in the ashes of a ruined house. 

We should rejoice in the fact that the All-Merciful Lord chose a child to be the herald of the good-tidings of the Wonder-Working Icon; that the Mother of God revealed the treasure of her icon not to a cleric, a monastic, a state officer, or an educated or respected dignitary, but rather to a nine-year-old, whose mind was not filled with worldly ‘learning’, facts, knowledge and theories; but, a girl blessed with a child’s simplicity and trust, and a heart and soul overflowing with faith and the fear of God. 

This reminds us that spiritual encounter and true gnosis is not simply dependent on learning and education – important though they may be – but that knowledge and faith begin with God in Divine Revelation, and that faith is the gift of God, not the achievement of man.

For the young Matrona, Faith was learned from Church services; from the readings and hymns of the seasons of the year, with its feasts and fasts; from the sacred icons, and the stories narrated and saints memorialised in them; from hearing the lives of the saints which even the illiterate knew by heart; by experiencing, listening and seeing; in short by PARTICIPATION and EXPERIENCE.  

But, in addition to this, this feast reminds us of the importance of REVELATION and Matrona’s part in the events of this feast is solely because God and the Mother of God freely chose her, to be the recipient. 

“God is the Lord, and has revealed Himself to us.”  We believe this, but we so often take such an anthropocentric approach to faith that we forget that God is the source of both faith and knowledge. We begin to see the process starting with us, with our bookshelves, reading, study and catechism classes, and the revelatory aspect of faith fades. Put simply, we begin to understand faith back-to-front. Faith begins with revelation, so faith  and knowledge necessarily begin with God. 

In our daily services we pray: “Blessed are Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes. Blessed are Thou, O Master, grant me understanding of Thy statutes.  Blessed are Thou, O Holy One, grant me understanding of Thy statutes.”

This is nothing less than a prayer for Divine Revelation, and for God to grant us the gift of understanding what He has revealed to us.

This revelation is part of our personal relationship with the Living God, and though we may read and study dogmatics and theological treatises, spiritual-understanding is ultimately a gift from God – Who, if He so wishes can totally bypass all of the usual channels and mechanics of learning. 

We read and hear the stories of God-Bearing ascetics whom others presumed to be highly educated, as they ably expounded the teachings of the dogmatic and ascetical Fathers, and great swathes of the Philokalia. Those who knew the ascetics explained the truth – that these men had not been schooled, were sometimes illiterate, and had never possessed, let alone read a book.  Rather, through asceticism and pure prayer, they acquired the Mind of Christ, and in that Mind and through the Divine Encounter, Truth was opened and revealed to them. 

What do we sing in the Beatitudes, the third antiphon of the Liturgy? “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God”… the pure in heart, not the learned, educated and knowledgeable.

God does not need university degrees and accolades of higher education, but purity and openness to faith. This is how the fishermen were made most-wise, and became theologians who knew (rather than knew about) the Incarnate-God, who revealed Himself to them in the purity of their hearts and minds.

The Lord reveals Himself to the pure in heart, and no matter how educated we are, without striving for that purity we can have no experiential knowledge of God: no personal encounter, but can only know about Him, rather than knowing Him. For those of great sanctity, their purity is enough, and within it, God may reveal all things.

As we celebrate Divine Revelation in this feast, how ironic it was that the authorities scoffed at the child chosen by the Mother of God, so that Matrona and her mother had to dig themselves to find the sacred treasure; how those in authority looked down on a mere child, refusing to believe her and dismissing her claim; and how they insulted God in not considering the possibility that He might chose a mere child as the herald of revelation.

But through all of this, God and the Theotokos teach us a salutary lesson by choosing a child. 

What does Christ tell us? “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  

This is the upside-down-ness of the Gospel at work, yet so many people are still far from grasping this. 

The example of the child, Matrona should encourage us to struggle to preserve child-like innocence and trust in God in our Christian lives; recognising that God is the source of knowledge and Faith, no matter how much or how hard we read and study, and that although it is important for us to deepen our knowledge of Faith, true knowledge and understanding are ultimately a gift of God, and not the fruit of learning.

Revelation does not depend upon our intellectual abilities, depth of learning or theological knowledge. We remain powerless and reliant on God, the Source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

For our catechumens, still learning and perhaps with gaps in knowledge; for our newly baptised, at the beginning of the journey of Faith; for those who feel that others are for more knowledgeable or educated than them – this feast is a challenge and an encouragement.

Trust in God as the source of knowledge and Truth, and work with Him to acquire true knowledge. Be active in seeking to learn His statutes, but by trusting in Him and not in your own ability.

And as we strive for the understanding of the Law of God, let us heed the Paschal Canon’s words, “Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with inaccessible light of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him saying clearly, “Rejoice!” As we sing the triumphant hymns!” 

Let us – with our busy, complicated, worrisome and temptation-clouded lives – strive for child-like purity, simplicity and trust, so that we may not only seek Him, but have Him reveal His truth unto us, and by becoming like little children, enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

The Kazan Icon “Of the Seven Lakes”

Dear brothers and sisters, in addition to being the feast of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, today is also the feast of the Seven Lakes Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The photograph is of one of my favourite cell-icons.

 Its origin story relates that near the end of the 1500s, a fellow named Evfimiy was born to a poor family.   Being a pious individual, he went to live in a monastery.  When his parents died, he inherited an icon of the “Smolensk” type from them, which he took with him to the region of Kazan.  He eventually settled in a secluded place many miles from the city.  It was surrounded by seven lakes.  There he eventually founded a monastery.

Though some time later he went to live in the Metropolitan’s house in Kazan, he nonetheless continued to guide the monastic community he had begun, and he also decided to give up his inherited “Smolensk” icon to the Seven Lakes monastic community.  The wooden church at the monastic site was eventually replaced by a stone church, and the “Smolensk” icon was placed in it, on the left side of the Royal Doors that led to the altar.

In June of 1654, there was a severe plague in Kazan, and people were dying.  It was decided to send the Seven Lakes – Sedmiezernaya – “Smolensk” icon to the city. 

It is said that a nun had a vision in her sleep, in which a shining old man who looked like St. Nicholas appeared to her, telling her that the people of Kazan should fast for a week and repent, and that the Mother of God was coming to the city to save the people from the plague. 

The nun did not do as she was told, so the old man appeared to her when she next slept, scolding her.  Finally, she went to the city officials and reported her vision.   According to tradition, all the citizens of the city went out, carrying their own “Kazan” icon, to formally meet and welcome the Sedmiezernaya icon some two miles from the city, where they fell to their knees and prayed for “her” help in ending the plague.

It is said the plague subsided when the icon was carried in procession around the city of Kazan.  The city eventually returned the icon to the Seven Lakes Monastery, but again in 1656 there was a plague in Kazan, so the icon was brought back to Kazan, and again the plague subsided.  After that, it became the custom to bring the icon from the Seven Lakes Monastery to the city of Kazan each year, when it would leave the monastery on June 25th and be brought into the city in a formal procession on June 26th (July 9, New Style).

The “Seven Lakes” Icon is also commemorated on July 28 and October 13.

Never, O Mother of God, will we cease to speak of thy powers, unworthy as we are. For if thou didst not intercede in prayer, who would have delivered us from so many dangers? Who would have kept us free until now? Let us never forsake thee, our Lady, for thou ever savest thy servants from all perils.

 

 

Celebrating the Yaroslavskaya Icon of the Mother of God

Today we celebrate the feast of the Yaroslavskaya Icon of the most Holy Mother of God, one of the “Umilenie” of “Tenderness” icons that are so loved in the Slavic lands.

This was the first wonderworking icon of the Mother of God revealed during the Tatar-Mongol yoke, and was brought from Kiev to Yaroslavl soon after the invasion of Batu Khan by the holy right-believing Princes Basil and Constantine (July 3).

As we stand or kneel before the icon, we encounter the Virgin’s deep love and care for the Infant-Saviour, as she holds Him close to her – though her face shows reflective inner thought rather than looking at the Child or at us. The Saviour touches His mother’s face, focusing on her as he holds the hem of her robe with his other hand.

This is a perfect icon of the sacred motherhood and love of the Mother of God, to whom we turn in prayer, particularly asking her maternal care for  the Archpriest Yves, the Subdeacon Peter, Gennady, Alexey, Valery, Irina, Anastasia, Fidelmia, Anamieka, Phoevos, Mary-Louisa, Mairi, Ruth-Silouana, the infant Lawrence, Susan and all who are sick- and for all refugees from Ukraine, who like her holy icon have fled from their homeland to escape war and bloodshed.

Save thy servants from harm, O Theotokos, for all we, after God, flee unto thee, as to an unassailable wall and intercessor.

Look with loving-kindness, O all-hymned Theotokos, upon my cruel bodily suffering, and heal the sickness of my soul.

Most Holy Lady, Theotokos save us!

The “Unexpected Joy” – a miracle of the Mother of God

Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

As we celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Cheltenham today, our thoughts were very much with Mother Melangell, as she celebrated the altar-feast of her skete, named for the icon of the Mother of God, “Unexpected Joy”.

The story of this icon appears in The Fleece Bedewed, by St Dimitri of Rostov: a work which describes various miracles of the Mother of God.

The icon “Unexpected Joy” actually consists of an icon within an icon, with words of dialogue and narration often woven into its design.

We see a young man, who despite a life of crime never lost his devotion to the Mother of God, and prayed before the icon of Our Lady and the Infant Saviour every day, repeating the Archangel’s greeting: “Rejoice, O Virgin full of grace!”.

However, his prayer never stopped him then going out and stealing until the Mother of God interceded in this situation, for when he turned to the icon, he saw the Mother of God and Christchild in the flesh, and the Infant Saviour had bleeding wounds on His hands and feet, and blood flowed from a wound in His side. The horrified man fell to his knees and instinctively questioned the Mother of God: “O Mistress! Who did this?”

The life-changing answer for the man was in the challenge of the Virgin’s quiet words: “You and other sinners. Over and over again you crucify My Son by your sins.”

The horrified man cried out, “Have mercy upon me,” but the Mother of God rebuked him saying, “You call Me the Mother of mercy, yet you offend Me and bring Me sorrow by your deeds.”

In this, is a challenge for us all. We call the Saviour our Lord, yet we disobey and offend Him; we call our Lady Mother, yet we bring hurt and insult that we would not even think of throwing at our mother according to the flesh.

The man, who had tried to mix devotion to the Mother of God with a life of disobedience and crime appealed to her, as a source of help, hope and rescue:

“No, Mistress. May my malice not overcome your indescribable kindness and mercy! You alone are the hope and safe haven of all sinners! Have mercy upon me, O benevolent Mother! Entreat your Son and my Creator on my behalf.”

The horror of the words he had heard had already awakened his soul and brought him to profound repentance, and seeing this purification and change the Mother of God entreated her Son, our Saviour:

“My benevolent Son! For the sake of My love have mercy upon this sinner.” But the Son replied to Her: “Do not be angry, My Mother, if I do not obey You. I, too, entreated My Father to have this cup of suffering pass Me by.”

Though the Mother of God continued to pray for this man, who brought her Son grief and great sorrow, the Saviour seemed immovable until Our Lady placed the Infant on His own feet and prepared to fall at His feet to beg for the repentant thief.

It was then that the Saviour spoke and stopped her:

“What do you wish to do, Mother?!”

And the Mother of God, our perpetual-intercessor replied, “I shall remain, lying at Your feet together with this sinner until You forgive him his sins.”

The Saviour replied, “The law requires a son to venerate his mother, while justice demands that the giver of the law be himself obedient to the law. I am your Son; you are My Mother; I am obliged to do you homage by fulfilling your request. Let it be as you wish! His sins are now forgiven for your sake! And as a token of forgiveness, let him press his lips to My wounds.”

The man rose up, trembling, still wrapped in the vision and approached the Infant Saviour, and kissed His wounds, and begged that he should always be able to see his own sins and repent of them, and in the gift of this knowledge, his life was transformed, and he lived the rest of his life in knowledge and repentance.

This knowledge is one so greatly needed, as we become conscience-numbed, very often not even understanding that our behaviours are even sins. The world – and even the Christians in the world – loses all sense of sin and error. People come to confession, saying that they can’t really think of anything that has gone wrong since their last confession, and that all seems to be well.

We need to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us, that we might receive the knowledge of the repentant criminal remembered through this miracle recorded by St Dimitri, and we need to remind ourselves how like this once deluded man we are, asking how we can be spiritually wakened and enlivened, as he was – being mindful of our errors, the need to change and repent.

Let us begin by praying the Canon to the Mother of God by the Monk Euthymios, the Chancellor, that we might be brought to realisation and repentance, and to amendment, and newness of life, in which we understand our culpability and our responsibility for the Saviour’s sacred wounds.

A CANON OF SUPPLICATION TO THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD AT THE CONFESSION OF A SINNERContinue reading

The Murom Icon of the Mother of God

This year, Bright Monday coincides with the feast of the Murom Icon of the Mother of God.

This icon was brought from Kiev to Murom by the Holy Prince Constantine of Murom (May 21) early in the XII century. For a long time, but quite unsuccessfully, Saint Constantine tried to attract the pagan inhabitants of the Murom principality to Christianity. His counsels met with no sympathy; moreover, they filled the people with hatred and contempt.

The more fanatical pagans plotted and swore to kill the Prince, or drive him out of Murom. When Constantine discovered the plot he prayed fervently to God. Then taking with him the Icon of the Mother of God, which he brought from Kiev, he went to confront the conspirators, trusting in the intercession and the help of the Queen of Heaven. When the pagans saw the Icon, they were so overcome with astonishment that they begged the Prince to forgive them. Then they agreed to be baptized into the Christian Faith.

The Murom icon is renowned for many other miracles, the most remarkable of which is the following. At the end of the XII century, Saint Basil was the Bishop of Murom. The people, mistakenly suspecting him of living in a way which was not appropriate for his high episcopal rank, intended to kill him. When Saint Basil learned of this decision, he asked his enemies to postpone his death until morning. All night long he prayed in the Church of Saints Boris and Gleb.

After serving the Divine Liturgy, he went to the temple of the Annunciation and there he served a Moleben before the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, which he brought from Kiev. Placing all his hope in the Queen of Heaven, Saint Basil took the miraculous Icon and went to the Oke River. Removing his mantya, he spread it upon the water and stood upon it holding the Icon of the Mother of God. Suddenly there was a strong wind and Saint Basil was carried upstream against the current. Six hours later, the Bishop sailed to a place called Old Ryazan. There the people and the Prince received the Saint with honor. However, since Old Ryazan was poorly protected from the invasion of the Tatars, under whose yoke Russia was at that time, Saint Basil decided to look for another, safer place.

In 1291 he moved to New Ryazan, taking with him the Icon of the Mother of God. Since then, all his successors have lived in New Ryazan. Thus, with the abolition of the Murom cathedra, a new episcopal cathedra was established – that of New Ryazan.

Originally, the commemoration of the Murom-Ryazan Icon of the Mother of God took place on the second Sunday of the Apostle’s Fast, then in 1810 (1814?) the Holy Synod, at the request of the residents of Ryazan, changed the Feast Day to April 12, when Saint Basil is commemorated.

The Murom Icon bears a certain resemblance to the Yakhrom Icon (October 14), in which the Divine Child is cradled on His Mother’s left arm; His right hand touches her chin, while His left hand hangs down holding a scroll representing the Scriptures. In the Murom Icon, however, the head of the Divine Child leans back against His Mother’s shoulder, and the scroll is open to reveal the words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18).

The original Icon has not been preserved (all traces of it were lost when it was transferred from Murom to Ryazan). Frequently, copies of the Murom Icon were made, many of which are now found in various churches and museum collections. One of the copies was kept in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Murom until its destruction in the XX century.

Source: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2020/04/12/101070-murom-icon-of-the-mother-of-god

The Blessing of the Kursk-Root Icon

Dear brothers and sisters,

The last few days have been a great blessing from the Mother of God, through the visit of her ancient, wonderworking Kursk-Root icon of the  Sign, and have been filled with prayer and devotion: during the icon’s travels, in parish homes, in church in Cardiff and Cheltenham, during the day and the night, and in the final joyful-sorrow of the handing-over of the image to its next custodians in this Marian journey.

The moleben services in Chippenham, Cardiff and Cheltenham brought the faithful together, not simply from our own parishes, but from other Orthodox communities, and it was a great joy to meet and talk with brothers and sisters from Birmingham, Bristol, Poole and Swindon – all of us united as children of the Most Holy Theotokos.

It was also a joy to go to parish homes that had not been previously graced with a visit from the icon, and we look forward to visiting more homes in the future.

I would like to thank all who came to pray with such zeal and devotion, and all who worked so hard: the members of the kliros and altar-team; matushka Alla for such superb floral arrangements; our sister Xenia for sweet herbs for the faithful to take as an evlogia from Cheltenham; oltarnik Oswald for coordinating Cheltenham set-up; Isaiah from the Swansea parish for his excellent photographs (to be seen here soon) and Deacon Mark for being an able coordinator and chauffeur.

Deacon Mark and I would like to thank parishioners for such warm hospitality in their homes, in welcoming the icon and honouring the Mother of God, and in the generosity shown to those caring for the icon on its journey.

We parted from the icon at the gates of the church in Telford, and the icon will be in Wallasey for the weekend, before visits to Norfolk, St Leonard’s and Oxford, as well as time in London.

Above all, our thanks are due to the Most Holy Mother of God, for the great and grace-filled icon that she gave to the world as a consolation and blessing in 1259, granting countless blessings to the people of God over the subsequent centuries – especially in the most troubled and dangerous times.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Forthcoming Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, brought the wonderful news that the Wonderworking Kursk-Root icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, will be brought to Cardiff on Friday 18 March, with the hope that it will be possible to make a Wiltshire stop en route.

The following morning, it will visit the faithful in Cheltenham, before continuing to Telford, and thence to Wallasey.

Given the shortness of the visit and limited time, home visits will be for those who have not previously welcomed the icon into their homes, and will be limited to Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Those who would like to welcome the icon for the first time are asked to contact the parish clergy, so that a preliminary plan may be made, allowing the clergy to ascertain the length of time required.

An evening service will be celebrated in Cardiff on 18 March, with the details confirmed once the availability of St John’s or one of the other city churches is known.

Please mark these important dates in your diaries, so that you are able to honour the Mother of God through the veneration and welcoming of her precious icon.

Revealed on September 8, 1259, the wonderworking icon has been a constant channel of miracles, and after finally leaving Russia in 1920, it became the sign of the protection of the Mother of God, leading the exiles who fled the Soviet Union – a miraculous protection in the dark years of the Second World War, a consolation for the thousands of displaced persons, and the Hodegetria of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora – in Constantinople, in Greece, Serbia, then Austria and Germany, and now in every corner of the world.

We look forward to welcoming the icon to Cardiff, once more, and honouring Our Lady, the Theotokos.

Troparion, Tone 4: Having obtained thee as an unassailable rampart and wellspring of miracles, O Most Pure Mother of God, thy servants quell the assaults of enemies. Wherefore, we pray to thee: Grant peace to our land, and to our souls great mercy.

Hymns for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the elect of the patriarchs, the fathers before the Law, have shone forth like beacons, for all the prophets and the righteous shone forth from them like radiant lamps. With rays of honourable prophecy have they illumined all creation; and they earnestly pray to God in behalf of the world.

Rejoice, ye honourable prophets who dedicated yourselves well to the Law of the Lord, and by faith revealed yourselves as unshaken and unbreakable pillars of Christ; and, having passed on to heaven, ye beseech Him to grant peace to the world and to save our souls.

Lift up thy voice, O Zion, Thou truly divine city, and proclaim the divine memory of the fathers, honouring Abraham, Isaac and the ever-memorable Jacob; for, lo! we all magnify Judah and Levi, the great Moses and the wondrous Aaron, and we honour David, Joshua and Samuel. And weaving divine hymns into godly praise on the forefeast of Christ’s nativity, we ask that we receive grace from Him, and that He grant the world great mercy.

O Elijah, who once rode upon a divine chariot of fire, come thou forth, and thou, O divinely wise Elisha; and joining with Ezekiel and Hosea, rejoice! O ye honoured and divinely inspired twelve prophets, join chorus, and all ye righteous, chant in hymns unto the nativity of Christ; ye most blessed youths that quenched the flame of the furnace with the dew of the Spirit, entreat Christ on our behalf, that He send down upon our souls great mercy.

Most blessed art thou, O Virgin Theotokos, for through Him Who became incarnate of thee is hades led captive, Adam recalled, the curse annulled, Eve set free, death slain, and we are given life. Wherefore, we cry aloud in praise: Blessed is Christ God. O Thou Who hast been so pleased, glory to Thee.