The Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings to you all, as we celebrate the summer feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.

Since 1595, this day has been celebrated as the commemoration of the revelation of the wonder-working icon, in whose name our parish is dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God.

How did this appearance happen? By the Mother of God choosing the innocence of childhood as the voice that proclaimed her presence, as she spoke to the nine-year old Matrona in Kazan, in 1579, instructing her to recover the icon from beneath the ashes of her parents’ house, burned down in a fire.

This child became the messenger of the Mother of God, relating her thrice-repeated dream to the bishop, before she and her mother recovered the image from beneath the stove in the ruins of the house, finding it pristine, though only wrapped in canvas.

From this unlikely revelation on the edges of the Russian state, the Kazan Icon entered into the life of the nation, and when the faithful fasted and begged the help of the Mother of God before this holy icon, the Mother of God delivered the Russian land from the invasion of the Poles in 1612, the Swedes in 1709, and the French in 1812. Famously, a copy of the icon was processed around the boundaries of besieged Leningrad (where the original was enshrined from 1811 to 1904) during the Second World War.

However, on the feast of the Appearance of the icon, we are not concerned with invasions, sieges, armies and battles, but thank the Mother of God for manifesting her love and care through revealing this icon, and the very many wonderworking icons that have consecrated the Russian land and its Orthodox people, making Russia ‘The House of the Mother of God’: Дом Богородицы.

As the Kazan Icon is the commonly given marriage-icon for Russian Orthodox newly-weds, it is also venerated and loved in more-or-less every home, becoming an intrinsic part of Russian Orthodox domestic life.
For us, of course, it is our parish icon, and I encounter it in virtually every home: painted, cast in metal or in printed reproductions.
Even though the summer feast is not our altar-feast, let us all head to our icon-corners and pray the canon or akathist, and ask the Mother of God to protect our parish, our faithful, our families and our land. 
Let us particularly ask the Mother of God to show us the way forward as a community, at a time of continuing uncertainty – but let us do so with hope and joy, mindful of the fact that the Mother of God continually shows us the way. 
We can learn from the child Matrona, approaching the Mother of God with simple child-like trust, without our own complicated agendas and mental clutter, knowing that even from the ashes and ruins of our lives, the Mother of God can help us to rebuild – bringing us consolation and joys, victory against our spiritual foes, and lead us in the path of holiness that she trod beside her Son, Our Lord and Saviour who has glorified her and received her into the Heavenly Kingdom.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark


As thou art the great Queen and Mother of the King of the all-exalted hosts in heaven, stretching forth thine all-pure hands, thou dost intercede for us with supplication; and on earth, as a mighty helper, thou abidest with thy servants in spirit and in thy divine icon, and dost gladly save and deliverest from all temptation them that piously confess thee to be the Theotokos.

Я́ко вели́ка су́щи Цари́ца и Ма́ти на Небеси́ превысо́ких сил Царя́, пречи́стыя Твоя́ ру́ки просте́рши, моле́бно за ны предстои́ши, и на земли́ я́ко держа́вная Помо́щница Боже́ственною Твое́ю ико́ною и ду́хом с Твои́ми рабы́ пребыва́еши и ве́село спаса́еши, и избавля́еши от вся́кия напа́сти благоче́стно Богоро́дицу Тя испове́дающия.

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