Miracle icons

Today, science cannot find logical explanation to a strange phenomenon: when an icon image appears on the icon's glass.

Russian newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” presented a dozen cases of such strange occurrence as icon “rejuvenation”. However, only five scientists in the whole country are researching this phenomenon. Why so few? “We are all like-minded people; such issues are not to be resolved by mere voting,” harshly comments professor Pavel Florensky, one of the members of the Committee of unexplained miraculous occurrences, that take place within the Russian Orthodox church. Similar to his four colleagues, he is pious, but at the same time rather curious person.

Such thirst for truth makes these scientists attend various congregations.

Icon rejuvenation—is one of the miraculous events that takes place rather frequently. Its essence lies in the fact that some barely visible colors suddenly reappear on the icon’s surface, thus bringing the icon its new look.

-The latest of such icon rejuvenations that our Committee had a chance to explore took place in the Yaroslav region of Russia, explains Florensky. “Father Alexi told me an interesting story. He was once on his to the church, when he spotted a blank piece of wooden board. He picked it up and placed and placed it on a bookshelf between the books. To his astonishment, after a year or so, he remembered about the wooden board, reached for it, and couldn't believe his own eyes! An angel’s image appeared on the surface. Isn't this a miracle?

-How do you think this happened?

-Have you ever had a polished table? When you accidentally place a cup with hot beverage on top of the polished surface, it leaves white circular marks. Lacquer that covers the table tends to whiten after such contact with heat. It is rather difficult to get rid of the white spot afterward. In case with the icon the opposite took place. Lacquer has fully dried out in the course of several years and colors got fully restored.

-But it could have easily remained in the snow longer?

-Exactly. Science always attempts to determine some sort of a pattern in any process. Russian famous restorer Adolf Nikolaevich Ovchinnikov “brought to life” many of Russia’s icons. However, he has never witnessed such miracles. According to our data, majority of rejuvenated icons are “young” icons, created in the end of XIX or XX centuries.

-How can this be explained?

-I don't know exactly.

People embark on pilgrimages just to see such miracle icons. After saying a prayer, true believers leave their offerings on the icon's frame.

-Another common miracle is the appearance of the icon's reflection on the glass.

-There exists an entire array of hypotheses in regards to such occurrences. No one can provide the right explanation yet. Not so long ago, we received one of such glasses for testing. Upon a closer look, we were able to discover that those particles on the glass were not crystals, as was assumed, but drops. The substance is close to soap in terms of its structure. It is not present in trees, in lacquers or in paints. What appears of most significance is that drops of this substance appear on the actual contour of an icon’s image. If evaporation comes from the image and condensate accumulates on the glass, then the image should be smeared with this substance. However, in reality, outlines the image. The easiest explanation would be electrostatics. Considering the fact that the glass is being wiped daily, it is therefore being electrified. However, such assumption does not hold true due to the emergence of drops.

-In our Committee I personally represent the skeptical wing. God not only gave us laws of ethics but also laws of nature. Our studies are not aimed at making people loose their faith. We exclude trickery. We scientists simply want to know what and how it all happens.     
-So you are saying miracles exist?

-I think that modern day technology allows us to describe such phenomenon. Whether this is miracle or not is not up for us to decide. This cannot be measured in centimeters, meters or liters. We have to have a miracle visionary in order to see miracles. If there is no miracle visionary, there is no miracle. Today, we have a chance to witness the greatest miracle. Do you know what it is? It is people's return to the church!

Anna Selivanova

Photo: Konstantin Solomatin (from Pavel Frorensky's archive)

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov