Late that evening, a flight from Munich arrived in Voronezh International Airport containing a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed by one of its most renowned hierarchs, Archbishop Mark, bringing with it once again the ancient Russian holy icon. Greeting them was Protopriest Andrei Skakalin, Secretary of the Diocese, and Protopriest Andrei Izakar. After passing through customs, the icon was taken to the main cathedral of the Voronezh Diocese.
Vladyka Sergy, together with the other clergymen welcomed the Kursk-Root Icon under the singing of the sticheron “The Highest in Heaven,” (from the canon to the Most-Pure Mother of God), and he then brought the icon into the cathedral.
A moleben was then performed before the holy icon with a Gospel reading, after which the clergymen and worshipers venerated it, asking for the intercession of the Queen of Heaven.
The Kursk-Root Icon, called “of the Sign” through tradition, was discovered on September 8, 1295, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God, in a forest near the city of Kursk, which had not long before been burned to the ground by the Tatars. A hunter found the small icon lying face-down near the root of a tree, and when he lifted the icon to examine it, a spring burst forth from the site. Here he and his friends built a small chapel, where he place the icon.
In 1383, the Kursk region was looted again. The Tatars burned down the chapel, took the local priest prisoner and hacked the icon in half. According to tradition, this priest, Fr Bogolyub, was purchased from slavery and returned to find the two pieces of the miracle-working icon, fit them together, and the icon healed itself, becoming whole again.
In 1597, by order of Tsar Feodor Ioannovich, the miraculous icon was brought to Moscow, and additional iconic images were added around it, depicting the Lord Sabaoth and the Old Testament Prophets. In 1615, Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich returned the icon to Kursk, when by royal decree, a monastery was established on the site of the chapel and named Kursk-Root Hermitage.
During the Civil War, the icon was housed in the Cathedral “of the Sign” in Kursk. But at the end of October 1919, when General Denikin’s forces abandoned the city, it was evacuated as well. In early March, 1920, Bishop Feofan of Kursk took the icon to Serbia via the ship St Nikolai. After being returned to Russia at the request of General Wrangel, in October 29, 1920, the icon was once again evacuated from Russia, this time permanently, and taken to Serbia. The Kursk-Root Icon was then kept at Yakaz Orthodox Monastery on Frushkovo Mountain in Voevodino. From the end of 1927, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God was kept at Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade, where General Wrangel’s banners were kept.
In 1944, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, together with the Kursk-Root Icon, move to Munich, Germany. In 1950, the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anastassy, moved to America. The New Kursk-Root Hermitage was established near New York City, where, on February 5, 1951, the miracle-working icon arrived.
In September 2009, after a 90-year absence, the Kursk-Root Icon visited Russia. It was brought to Voronezh for the first time last year, gathering an enormous number of worshipers to venerated the icon in the cathedral not only from the Voronezh oblast, but from other regions in Russia as well.
The holy image will be in the cathedral until 8 am, September 22. Worshipers are able to venerate the icon even at night, while molebens are performed before it. On the morning of September 22, the icon will depart for the Kursk Metropoliate.