Moscow, November 7, 2023
Updated 11/7/23, 7:00 PM
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made a major announcement on Saturday, November 4, the feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God in memory of Russia’s deliverance from the Poles in 1612.
On that day, the Patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Following the entrance prayers, he revealed that the Kazan Icon present in the church that day was the very icon before which prayed Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who expelled the Polish forces, reports Patriarchia.ru.
As the Patriarch recalled, Prince Pozharsky prayed before the icon every time before he went into battle, and his prayers were heard. In gratitude, he built the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square to house the icon. In 1918, the icon disappeared. It was believed to have been stolen and possibly sold abroad, but it turns out that the icon remained in Russia, protected by pious people, the Patriarch said.
The icon was recently discovered in the Patriarchal residence in Peredelkino, just outside of Moscow, in a room where icons to be gifted to churches and monasteries are stored. Having come across the icon, at first the Patriarch believed it was simply an excellent copy. However, intrigued, he sent it for expert examination, which concluded that it dates to the 16th century, when it’s known the wonderworking icon was painted. And given that the discovered icon presents the exact image of the icon before which Pozharsky and Minin prayed, it must be that very icon, the Patriarch said.
Pat. Kirill explained that once the identity of the icon was confirmed, he understood that he had to tell the Orthodox faithful about the discovery.
Calling upon the prayers of the Theotokos, the Patriarch exhorted: “The time has come to renew our Orthodoxy, to renew our faith. Not in the sense of an external renewal, as the failed reformers did, but in terms of making our faith relevant for each of us and for our entire nation.”
The icon was then placed in the center of the cathedral. At the end of the service, a special prayer was read before it.
Later that day, Pat. Kirill returned the Kazan Icon to the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square, built specifically to house the wonderworking image.
“It is of utmost importance that here, in this temple, the established tradition of serving the Akathist, special prayers before this most pure image, is carefully preserved. That the church be filled with devout pilgrims,” the Patriarch said.
“We believe and hope that under the Protection of the Most Pure Queen of Heaven, this historical church, once destroyed and then restored, will abide. And the image itself will continue to emanate grace and strength to everyone who turns to it with faith and prayer.”
UPDATE: The Patriarchate issued a clarification today, that while the icon discovered by Pat. Kirill is revered Moscow Kazan Icon before which Pozharsky and Minin prayed, it is itself a copy of the original Kazan Icon, which was stolen in 1904 and remains lost.
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