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