Russia Worships Miracle-Working Icon

The Russian Orthodox Church has the day of Our Lady of Kazan. The celebration was established in commemoration of the battle royal for Moscow in the Time of Troubles. The small hours of November 4 (October 22, Old Style), 1612, were suspense-laden. A militia led by Prince Dimitri Pozharsky and commoner Kozma Minin was preparing to take by storm the Kremlin, then stronghold of a Polish occupation force. The Russian warriors gathered for common prayer before a copy of the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan, and the Virgin brought them a glorious victory. The story of the holy image started soon after Ivan the Terrible took by storm Kazan, then capital of a mighty Tartar khanate of the same name, and now of the Tatar autonomous republic. A conflagration devoured a major part of the city in 1579. The community were raising Kazan from the ruins when Matrona, nine-year-old daughter of officer Daniil Onuchin of the Streltsi, Royal Fusiliers, had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, Who told the spiritual child about Her icon, cached underground by secret Christian converts in the Muslim years. The high-minded little girl obtained an audience with the local bishop to tell him about her prophetic dream. Excavation was made in a burnt-out site which the Virgin had indicated. Numerous miracles accompanied the recovery of the icon, say monastic chronicles of the time. The Church commemorates the day, July 21. The icon of Our Lady of Kazan soon became one of Russia's most cherished holy images. It accompanied the pious from the cradle to the grave. Its ardently worshipped copies were placed above babies' cribs and put in the hands of the deceased before the funeral to secure the intercession of the Mother of God on the progress to life eternal. The original icon was stolen from a cathedral in Kazan shortly before the Bolshevist revolution of 1917, and eventually found its way to the Vatican City. The Moscow Patriarchy has had a series of negotiations with the Holy See within recent years to have the icon restored to Russia.

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