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The Mother of God of Kazan

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1 The Mother of God of Kazan on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:07 pm

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In the continuing hours which are still being spent researching this presentation, I’m under the ever-expanding conviction that our Blessed Mother - Mary most Holy , under her title The Mother of God of Kazan, is a figure central to the unity of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches . . . a unity which God so desires. She is certainly just as much our own personal intercessor and Protectress under the same title , but Her will that we be one – transparent to Her Son’s will that we be one . . .


John 17:19-22

And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,”

. . . beckons us to gather together in prayer under the mantle of Our Lady of Kazan – The Mother of God of Kazan. It is doubtful we could ever discover a more prominent figure for Christian unity (or one more loved apart from God Himself for that matter) , since we are all Her children. Yet as we delve into the background of miraculous icons and further attempt to gauge the approximate history of their origin and subsequent movement , we ultimately encounter one or two divergent opinions from time to time ; some of which indicate their divergence could be possibly grounded in the lack of understanding which still exists in some areas between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. What a unique problem – even a little bit strange, considering that despite several theological issues which persist in preventing them/us from attaining full communion with each other , we are still united by the fact that both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches are the only ones to validly administer all of the sacraments exclusively. ehh

Our duty – the duty of the faithful , is not to exacerbate the wound between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Rather, it is to accomplish spiritually today what our hierarchies are yet incapable of achieving to date – that is, to come together in full communion with each other - by means of prayer. When we do this, we are not only praying in a most positive way for unity , we begin to attain it . . - hug3 ; a fact which , doubtless , a significant amount of Christians are already aware of.

Catholics may ask, “Why should I pray with/invoke The Mother of God of Kazan?” Rest assured that Pope John Paul II prayed frequently with Our Lady of Kazan , as professed in his own words :

How often since that day have I called on the Mother of God of Kazan, asking her to protect and guide the Russian people who venerate her, and to hasten the moment when all the disciples of her Son, recognizing one another as brothers and sisters, will be able to fully restore the compromised unity.”

It is a rather spiritually shallow/empty concept to somehow construe those words in a way which would have us think that Karol Jozef Wojtyla might have stopped praying for “Mother Russia” and for Christian unity upon his entrance into Heaven. In light of Saint André Bessette’s (Blessed Brother André, C.S.C.) words ,
If I am able to help you this much on earth, imagine how much more I shall be able to help you when I’m in Heaven”
, we have every reason to believe that when we unite and invoke the intercession and protection of the Mother of God of Kazan , John Paul II also prays with us along with countless Saints and Angels.

Accordingly, our presentation on The Mother of God of Kazan here is not simply some type of historical report, although we will try and be as precise as possible in recounting facts where history is uncontested. Instead, as we learn about the Mother of God of Kazan, we wish to focus our endeavor on developing/establishing a prayerful devotion to/with Our Lady of Kazan in our own hearts. This ensures that we, as children of Mary, bear effective fruit – fruit that will last, that will remain.

John 15:16
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

2 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:40 pm

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Our Lady of Kazan ; Icons : I of III





In contemplating the Mother of God of Kazan – the Holy Protectress of Russia , we encounter the icon. The story of Our Lady of Kazan begins in 1579 with the icon of Kazan. Little nine-year-old Matrona, whose parents’ house had burned down during the 1579 fire in Kazan, saw an image of Our Blessed Mother- the Virgin Mary in a dream, on several occasions, and heard a voice commanding her to retrieve a holy Icon hidden in the ashes of their burned house.

So even before being able to trace the threads of truth, beauty and tradition, which are intricately woven into the history and devotion of the faithful surrounding Our Lady of Kazan , more of us (like myself) who belong to the Western Church would require a little primer. We need to form/develop an understanding and appreciation of the icon , specifically : The place of the icon and of iconography in the praying hearts of our brothers and sisters – particularly those who belong to the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. If we in the west (or even the east for that matter) misinterpret, disregard or overlook this integrality of the icon’s significance in our Christian faith , it will hinder us from drawing as close as we can to our Blessed Mother under Her title , The Mother of God of Kazan .

Hopefully by now, some of us who are less informed shall have logically asked, “Well, what is an icon ?”

It is better to be thorough in our answer – ensuring from the outset that all readers might be well enough acquainted with icons. So the primer on icons – a type of preparation for the devotion to Our Lady of Kazan, will have to be given in 3 parts because, quite simply, an icon cannot be explained in one sentence . . . not even 2 paragraphs would do its definition justice.

One typical western explanation which shows up a little too commonly for my liking is when it is said “In the west we have statues – in the east they have icons”, – this really tends to resemble a dismissal more than a definition. Although that particular statement relative to the customs of the east and the west might be geographically true as a generality, it doesn’t come close to telling us what an icon is ; it doesn’t even scratch the surface. I recall several occasions where some friends both Eastern Catholic and others Eastern Orthodox, became visibly upset with my inability to comprehend the significance of the icon, after in my conversation I had attempted to place icons on the same level as statues.

Although some will probably continue to compare the icon with our custom of statues and stained glass etc., in the west , the plain truth is : The icon does not really have a precise parallel in the west – it is unique in the entire Church and springs from a carefully preserved dimension of spirituality which developed in the East but has been present in the Church from the very beginning. Although icons (eikon – Greek for “image”) as we know them today, are painted usually on a flat surface or in bas-relief, in iconography we do not refer to an icon as “painted” : Rather, an icon is “written”.

While it is recounted that St. Luke was the first to make an icon written by human hands ( the Hodegetria ), it is preeminently held that God is the first Icon Writer :

God -- Who begot the Son Who is God and Who reveals the Father, Who created us who are called to reveal Him, and Who miraculously formed the Holy Shroud.”

Although several distinct art forms concerning icon writing have evolved, in the traditional sense ,
Over time, icons came to be written according to very definite rules of design and system of symbols (see table below); the arrangement of elements, colors used, the manner of showing light, etc. are all governed by theological principles and ecclesiastical custom. Various schools and ages of icon writing arose, each with distinctive styles: the 6th c. Justinian period; the 10th c. - 12th c. rise of Russian icon writing; and the "Golden Age of Icons" in the 14th c. Throughout, the representations of persons were and are meant to capture spiritual realities, not earthly ones. They are not meant to be realistic portraits of their flesh, but portraits of their enfleshed spirits, as it were, as seen through the eyes of faith. “

http://www.fisheaters.com/images.html



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3 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:54 pm

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Our Lady of Kazan ; Icons : II of III




If icons are “written” and our wish is to understand them, then it makes all the sense in the world to hear from someone who knows how to “read” them ; for instance, one who knows the tradition and who, ideally, would write icons as well. One such person who has chosen to share his wisdom with us is Brother Aidan. These next quotes are excerpts taken from a rich contribution made available on an EWTN page. I would encourage any interested readers to find their way to that page through this link:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/SACICON.TXT

. . . and to read the entire piece entitled The Sacrament of Iconography - written by Brother Aidan. You will come away with a significantly enhanced appreciation of icons.

Icons, Matter Transfigured
. . . ‘We are perhaps inclined to regard humans as lower than the angels, because of their very corporeality. In reality, it is precisely this materiality of man which, when he lives according to his nature, makes him higher than the angels.

St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: "In previous ages the transcendent powers knew only the simple, uniform working of God's wisdom which effected wonders. On the other hand the manifest quality of wisdom which arose from the union of opposites is clearly manifested through the Church: the Word became flesh."[1] An important ministry of the Church therefore is to participate in the Father's plan "for the fullness of time, to unite all things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1:10). The icon is perhaps the most immediate and graphic expression of this union, firstly because it depicts God become flesh (Christ) and flesh become god (saints), and secondly, because the icon is itself a material bearer of uncreated grace.

Given that devotion to Our Lady of Kazan is rooted in a Russian icon , let’s continue with one of several glimpses of the ancient Russian tradition of icon writing – guided by Brother Aidan :

In the ancient Russian tradition the iconographer paints with the icon lying horizontally-prostrate as it were whilst the iconographer remains upright. The icon is glad that it is this way, to be the servant of a wise master. When the icon is completed this order is reversed: the icon is placed vertical, and the iconographer and the faithful prostrate before it. But again the icon rejoices, for by virtue of its likeness to the prototype, mere matter has been changed into a bearer of uncreated grace. It has been fashioned by a new Noah into an ark which saves the creation. By thus participating in uncreated grace and man's salvation, matter has begun to pass from this wicked world into the age to come. In the fallen world the icon's raw materials- gold, trees, precious stones, earth-are foolishly worshipped for created qualities they possess by nature. Within the Church, these materials, as part of icons, are wisely honoured for uncreated qualities that they possess, or rather convey, not by nature but by grace. As Saint John of Damascus says, "do not cease to venerate the matter through which our salvation was effected" ().”

. . . Icons unveiling the logoi
Icons are like names which the sons of the second Adam give to creation's creatures. Each name reveals the true identity of the thing named. Names are the unveiling of the unique logos of each individual thing, from stone and tree through to human beings. What is the saint, who, after Christ and the Mother of God, is the prime subject of icons? A saint is a person who has become what he already is in the mind of God, who has become his God-given name; he is his logos realised, a small logos united to the great Logos.

The saint is flesh, phenomenon, radiated from within by the union of the Creator Logos with his own created logos or hypostasis. It is because of this that shadows are absent in icons; the uncreated light which radiates from within the saint conquers shadows, which are caused by the dominance of the exterior created light. Where black is used, as in the cave of Christ's nativity and the tomb of Lazarus, it explicitly signifies the state of the fallen world. And where a dark colour is used positively, to describe something in heavenly reality, it paradoxically signifies profound presence rather than absence. Take for example the centre of the nimbus, often painted deep blue-black, which surrounds the transfigured Christ; this signifies the darkness of incomprehensible divine presence, unknown and unknowable by man, the divine essence from which shines forth the uncreated and knowable divine energies.

Icons show trees bending, prostrating as it were, before holy people. Rocks part like waves to let the Saviour enter Hades. Rivers flee before the baptized Creator. Icons depict a cosmos returned to its paradisiacal state.”

4 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:15 pm

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Our Lady of Kazan ; Icons : III of III



Drawing again from another passage of The Sacrament of Iconography – the Tradition and Culture section , we are guided to a conclusion as we consider the demeanour of the iconographer – a model for each one of us:
Preparing for this exacting task of testifying to the kingdom of Heaven, the iconographer, like the first disciples, "waits in Jerusalem until he receives power from on high." He waits in the upper room with prayer and fasting, together with the whole Church: "With one accord they devoted themselves to prayer." He loves to be "in one place" with the saints, in the Liturgy, in the Upper Room. And he does not merely wait, but calls out day and night for the grace of the Lord to come and to purify and fill him. He sheds sweet tears of desire for his Beloved, and bitter tears of remorse for having expelled the Beloved from the Paradise of his heart through recklessness. He is not content just to copy the images that others have painted of his Beloved, but desires to meet his Beloved and so paint icons that are alive, real, marked with that sobriety which is the fruit of real encounter.

. . . Icons unveil the logoi of creation. But it is a dangerous thing for the passionate person to seek out the reasons or logoi in nature. A person who makes icons without first purifying his intellect, or to be more realistic perhaps, who is not striving to live within the Church humbly and with repentance, will make icons that are a distortion, and not a true imaging of the inspired prototype. He may make of traditional models, but they will be soulless, without the freedom which characterises the inspired iconographic models. His icons will be images of his own fallen state. If this is the case, what is the iconographer to do? He must first of all be a member of the Family of God; through baptism and chrismation he enters the ekklesia, the assembly of the saints. Then, being within the family, he grows into maturity through participation in her life, particularly through Holy Communion, confession, services, fasting and having a spiritual father. "We must withdraw within ourselves," counsels St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, "and through our self draw near to God, through prayer and with calling upon his name."
. . . And again,

In Christ, those who were baptised become light in light, and they know the one who begot them " Then the iconographer paints those whom he has seen with his own spiritual eyes. Then he paints not images of images, but an image taken from the living prototype. Certainly he will receive the physical likeness of the saint from existing icons, but these icons he experiences sacramentally, not as a replacement for the real thing, but as a sacramental bearer of the very person depicted. He meets the saint personally in Christ through the Holy Spirit, just as Peter, James and John met Moses and Elijah on Mount Tabor. The outer likeness he receives from the Spirit through icons, and the "inner" likeness, the personal relationship with the saint, he receives from the same Holy Spirit through purity of heart. In that way the physical likeness which the iconographer receives through icons is not something exterior to his life in the Spirit, because the Spirit who has guarded this likeness through icons is the same Spirit who fills his heart with light.

It might be said that such a state of purity of heart as here described is rare, and that therefore most iconographers ought to content themselves with copying the works of the masters. Of course, as has been said above, the of the saint is handed on through copying prototypes. But the question here is whether all the other details need to be copied. It is infinitely better for someone still subject to the passions to make a faithful copy of an inspired icon than to paint the fantasies of his impure heart. And of course what makes an icon holy is not primarily the details of its style but the fact that it depicts a holy person. As St. Simeon of Thessalonica writes: "Portray in colours according to Tradition; this painting is as true as what is written in books, and the grace of God rests on "[4]

While this ideal has diversified to a certain extent in our modern world, it remains the goal to strive for – actually not only for iconographers, but for each and every one of us. We are all called to holiness . . . to try, to aim for closer union with our loving Lord, with and through Our Blessed Mother, the Saints and the holy Angels.

Now, Our Lady has chosen in our present time to not be limited in acting solely through icons which have been written according to tradition. The devotion to Our Lady of Soufanieh and the accompanying Miracle of Damascus actually springs from a-


small, inexpensive picture of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child (post-card quality). It was an old Eastern style of painting, similar to "Our Lady of Perpetual Help." The picture was in a broken plastic frame. It was no more than three inches tall and two inches wide. Its value was probably less than one dollar. Considering the frame was cracked on the lower left side and the picture was torn on the upper right side, it was most likely worthless.
"This is the Miracle of Damascus", Father said. "This picture pours out oil."

http://www.unitypublishing.com/Apparitions/DamascusTestimony.htm



In Her mystical way, Our Lady chooses as She wills, but as Brother Aidan so eloquently illustrates -we must always keep the rightful place reserved for the spiritual treasures and powerhouses which the traditional icons are. They have been handed down from the beginning of Christianity and the “Grace of God” continues to “rest on them.”

With what we have read so far , it should at least be enough to have us understand that not only is an icon “written” , it is first and foremost “prayed” – right from it’s very inception.

For anyone who still hasn’t read Brother Aidan’s entire article , please consider doing so now. Please don’t cheat yourself out of getting to know icons as well as you can. It will be a big help as we go. Here is the link again:


http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/SACICON.TXT

5 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:36 pm

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Our Lady of Kazan ; Icons ; Foreword with excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church



Finally, for Catholics : As we read the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church , it becomes more evident that, despite one or two similarities, despite even miraculous statues, despite an image of striking similarity on St. Juan Diego’s tilma – “written” by Our Lady of Guadalupe, it would still be a mistake to juxtapose statues and icons – they aren’t a match for each other, although they can compliment each other.

A perspective for considering the purpose of the 2D image on a flat surface – from: Symbology in Icons ; Time and Space ,

http://www.fisheaters.com/images.html
Earthly perspective is lost and icons have a flatness to them that disappears in Western Art after the painter Giotto discovered the rules of painting using perspective. Time, too, is distorted to show sequential events simultaneously. Both of these phenomena lend themselves to aiding the viewer in realizing that he is not looking at temporal realities, but spiritual realities.”

Turning our search to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are taught that “Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other:”
Here it is in context:

Holy images
1159 The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ. It cannot represent the invisible and incomprehensible God, but the incarnation of the Son of God has ushered in a new "economy" of images:
Previously God, who has neither a body nor a face, absolutely could not be represented by an image. But now that he has made himself visible in the flesh and has lived with men, I can make an image of what I have seen of God . . . and contemplate the glory of the Lord, his face unveiled.[27]

1160 Christian iconography expresses in images the same Gospel message that Scripture communicates by words. Image and word illuminate each other:
We declare that we preserve intact all the written and unwritten traditions of the Church which have been entrusted to us. One of these traditions consists in the production of representational artwork, which accords with the history of the preaching of the Gospel. For it confirms that the incarnation of the Word of God was real and not imaginary, and to our benefit as well, for realities that illustrate each other undoubtedly reflect each other's meaning.[28]

1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the "cloud of witnesses"[29] who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man "in the image of God," finally transfigured "into his likeness,"[30] who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:
Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.[31]

1162 "The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God."[32] Similarly, the contemplation of sacred icons, united with meditation on the Word of God and the singing of liturgical hymns, enters into the harmony of the signs of celebration so that the mystery celebrated is imprinted in the heart's memory and is then expressed in the new life of the faithful.”

To seal this deal via the Catechism : When is the last time you ever heard a Catholic teaching declare that an ordained minister is a statue ( No – it doesn’t count if Father doesn’t move around much when he is celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. . . doh ) ?

Well, in a depiction of the indelible mark which the Holy Spirit breathes on an ordained minister’s soul , the Catechism says “ the ordained minister is an icon of Christ the priest.” Here it is again with a little context:

1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that . . . they may offer spiritual sacrifices."[9] This "common priesthood" is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:[10]
Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people," have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.[11]

1142 But "the members do not all have the same function."[12] Certain members are called by God, in and through the Church, to a special service of the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the Church.[13] The ordained minister is, as it were, an "icon" of Christ the priest. Since it is in the Eucharist that the sacrament of the Church is made fully visible, it is in his presiding at the Eucharist that the bishop's ministry is most evident, as well as, in communion with him, the ministry of priests and deacon.”


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The following 3 posts are all taken from Chapter 9 of the book Light from the East - Miracles of our Lady of Soufanieh , written by Father Robert J. Fox (2002).

The entire book is available to be read online or downloaded at this link:

http://soufanieh.excerptsofinri.com/


I , Our Lady of Kazan is Our Lady Protectress


The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is widely known as the “Liberatrixand Protectress” of Holy Russia. It has been used as the standard of the Russian army accompanying them in their struggles against invaders, the Tartars, the Poles, the Swedes, and the French. Our Lady of Kazan has been venerated in Russia for centuries and even greeted by Russian troops as the Liberatrix of Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church proclaimed two liturgical feast days in her honor, July 8 and October 22. In many Russian prayers the Mother of God is called the “invincible general.” The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is one of the most venerated Icons in Russia and is inseparable from its long Christian history. The image is linked to the rich sources of Russia’s religious life. Events involving the Kazan Icon during the 20th century are only now becoming widely known. . .

7 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:05 pm

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II Our Lady of Kazan—Patroness of Russian Families

Our Lady of Kazan is the patroness of households in Russian families. Copies of the Icon are frequently given to young ladies before their weddings. She is so much a part of Russian culture that even unbelievers often have had an Icon of Kazan in their home. The Icon has a special spiritual significance and role in the history of Russia. Our Lady of Kazan shows the way for the future of Russia .

The Fatima Family Apostolate has been promoting the Icon of Soufanieh for two reasons: 1) as a reminder to pray for Christian Unity for the total Church; 2) for families to have it in their homes to promote love and unity in the family.

According to Marguerite Peeters, writing from Brussels for the magazine, Inside the Vatican: “Throughout Russia, churches, monasteries and cathedrals are dedicated to the Kazanskaya,” as it is called. “The Moscow Patriarchate has declared 16 copies of the Icon to be miraculous or venerable. Popular devotion proclaims more than 30 copies to be miraculous. The copies from different periods are often covered with gold, silver and precious stones, testifying to the deep veneration Russians have for this Icon.”

Kazan is a city on the Volga River located some 500 miles east of Moscow. The Tartars invaded Russia in the middle of the 13th centuryand oppressed Russians for 300 years. The Tartars considered the city of Kazan the capital of their principality. Then Czar Ivan IV the Terrible in 1552 organized a crusade against the Tartars who were oppressing the Orthodox. The Russians took over the city of Kazan. The Tartars began to be instructed in the Orthodox faith. The city could freely exercise its faith again. In gratitude Ivan the Terrible had a large basilica built in honor of the Mother of God in Kazan. It was dedicated to the mystery of the Annunciation. He had a cathedral built in Moscow in honor of the Protection of the Mother of God—now known as the famous St. Basil’s Basilica on Red Square.

The Moscow synod of bishops in 1555 elected the first bishop of Kazan and had a Cathedral built there. The majority of Kazan’s population, however, was still Moslem. When the second bishop of Kazan died the Moslems revolted against the Christian faith. It was during this struggle that half of the city was destroyed by fire in 1579. Moslems claimed it was a punishment from God against Christians. The future of Christianity in the city was in peril.

8 Re: The Mother of God of Kazan on Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:09 pm

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III   History of the Kazan Icon

A soldier whose home had been destroyed in the Kazan fire of 1579 was planning to build a new house when his eight-year-old daughter, Matrona, saw a vision in which the Blessed Mother on two occasions told her to tell everyone that the Icon of Our Lady would be found in the ground under the ruins of the burned house. The child was ignored both times. In the third apparition Matrona saw the Icon itself “andfrom within a great light glowed.” This time Matrona heard a voice which told her, “If you do not announce my words to all then I will appear in another place and a great calamity shall befall you.

”After the rejection of the message by the governor of the city ofKazan and by the Archbishop Jeremiah, the mother, to satisfy the child, and along with some neighbors, went to the place and started searching.It was not until Matrona started digging herself that, in a very short time, she uncovered the Holy Icon wrapped in old cloth and perfectly preserved. “Though it was an old Icon, its paint glistened like new. It seemed to be illuminated from within.”

The Icon was then taken in solemn procession from the place of exca-vation to the Church of St. Nicholas, the nearest church. On the way two men, Joseph and Nikita, who had been blind for years, had their sight restored so that “the Holy Icon appeared to have wonder-working powers. ”It is thought that the Icon was hidden during the Tartar domination, when the Orthodox were obliged to hide their faith, but the origin of the Icon still remains mysterious.

The event of the finding of the Icon took place on July 8, 1579. A liturgical feast day was thus established on that date in commemoration of the apparition of the Icon.

The pastor of the church was the priest Hermogen who was later to become the Patriarch of Moscow and, still later, to exhort the people of Russia during the “Time of Troubles” to drive out the invaders so that Russia might be saved. Those exhortations of Hermogen inspired the raising of an army in 1611 whose leadership, organization, and training were entrusted to the prince, Pojarski.

The time of freedom was not yet at hand, for the Russian military commanders quarreled among themselves. The violence of the Cossacks and other militiamen knew no bounds. In the winter of 1611, the Icon was being returned to Kazan. While it was en route to Kazan, it stopped at Yaroslavl where militiamen from Nizhni Novgoro, recruited by Minim and led by Pojarski were located. Hearing about the Icon and the many miracles which were wrought in connection with it, the militia-men took the Icon with them, constantly paying it homage with prayers for help. Many miracles were manifested.

Army troops marching from Kazan toward Moscow brought along the sacred Icon. The forces of Prince Pojarski encountered impossible obstacles near Moscow. The city must be taken. It was heavily reinforced and guarded by fresh troops arriving near Moscow. The disorderly Cossacks, instead of aiding the arriving troops, repelled them. There were few supplies or ammunition for the loyal forces. Under these circumstances, the morale of the troops ebbed low. Furthermore, autumn came bringing with it unfavorable weather. Deciding, however, to make a last effort to capture the city, depending no longer on their own strength, but only on the protection of the Mother of God, on October 22, 1612, the troops gathered to pray in front of the Icon, and then were successful in seizing the walls of the Kremlin, liberating Moscow. The Lord heard the prayers for the Church and the Fatherland.

Subsequently Our Lady of Kazan was hailed by Russian troops as the liberator of Russia. It is why the Orthodox church later proclaimed October 22 a liturgical feast day.
Among the many devotional accounts of this victory among the Russians is that within the city was a saintly hierarch, Arseny, who came to Russia from Greece. He was taken prisoner and lived under severeconditions of hunger and grief. Being a hierarch and a saintly man he was close to God and was chosen to receive heavenly favors. During the darkness of the night his cell was filled with light and he saw before him St. Sergius of Radonezh.

“Arseny,” said the saint, “Our prayers have been heard. Through the intercession of the Mother of God, the divine judgment on our fatherland has been changed to mercy. By morning Moscow will be in the hands of the liberators and Russia saved.”

The word spread and the Orthodox militia were strengthened with new courage. The enemy, in spite of their number, could no longer hold their positions and the Kremlin was taken by the Russians. The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan was placed by Prince Pojarski in the Church of the Presentation of the Holy Virgin in Moscow until the time when the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was built in Moscow (1630), where the Icon was then enshrined.

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There had been a delay in any further contributions on the topic of The Mother of God of Kazan , because we were awaiting permission to present another author's piece next. 

When attempting, through research, to follow the trail of the  original icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to present day, there is the potential for a specific question to arise - depending on which sources one is referencing  : Some would have us, it would seem, entertain doubts as to the authenticity of what is universally accepted , verified, and attested to as the original Icon of The Mother of God of Kazan .

 One assertion exists  that several duplicates of the Icon were made/written and that  it may  be one of the duplicates which we currently regard as the original. Of course, such claims are not widely held and cannot be substantiated; neither are they at all convincing , replete with their lack of continuity. The only area where they succeed, is in stirring up doubt, by presenting a one-sided argument. How  that kind of claim could ever be pleasing to Our Blessed Mother is implausible: It divides her children and weakens their faith. If one were to peel back the veneer coating these particular types of claims and dig a little deeper into them,  what ultimately emerges from their center is that same old Catholic vs Orthodox  (or Orthodox vs Catholic) pettiness . Such pettiness fosters isolationism and is therefore in my limited opinion and the opinion of most others, best avoided.

What we need to safely follow the mysterious voyage of the holy icon of the Mother of God of Kazan with faith intact, is an account unaffected by negativity – an account told and seen through the eyes of faith, steady in its continuity.  Author Janice T. Connell provides just such an account  – compact, credible, uncomplicated, edifying , and with background .Reading the chapter from her book  Meetings With Mary , Visions of The Blessed Mother ,[ Ballantine  Books ;  Our Lady of Kazan ; ( pp 321-327,) Copyright  © 1995   Janice T. Connell ] enables us to walk with the holy icon of the Mother of God of Kazan  . . .even before 1579 when little 9 year-old Matrona had her vision in which the Holy Mother of God  appeared to her, instructing her to announce to the clergy and officials (who initially remained incredulous)  where the holy icon was buried in the ground - on the spot where her father’s house burned down , and all the way to 1995 in an unbroken line.

There have been several further developments concerning the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan since 1995 , which will be dealt with duly. But let us first take a few minutes to read Janice Connell’s account , “Our Lady of Kazan” so we may soak in all the richness of faith surrounding the icon.


Janice T. Connell is an author, lecturer and more. As an author she has written no less than 12 books and co-written at least 3 others. Our Blessed Mother is a popular theme of her writings. Her account of Our Lady of Kazan is reliable. It is also protected by copyright laws.

Thanks to the diligence of Our-Lady-Of-Victory,  and to the generosity of Janice T. Connell and of her publisher Random House Publishing Group , Our Lady For Life website has been granted permission to present the entire chapter of Our Lady of Kazan from the book Meetings With Mary, Visions of the Blessed Mother , for the duration of one year. The chapter follows directly in the proceeding post.

In our gratitude, please be reminded that no one has permission to copy Janice T. Connell’s work in any way – to do so is  an infringement of the copyright laws ; thus, as conscientious members of the faithful , let us conduct ourselves accordingly.

Your  brother in Christ and in His gentle Mother,
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    " . . . you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man . . . This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God " . . .   - St. Anthony the Great   

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Meetings With Mary , Visions of The Blessed Mother , Ballantine  Books ; 

Our Lady of Kazan ; ( pp 321-327,)


Copyright  © 1995   Janice T. Connell

 

OUR LADY OF KAZAN


“ Russia has been known as the Garden of Mary since it was Christianized over one thousand years ago. During the 800’s two Greek monks , Saints Cyril and Methodius , brought Christianity to the lands of Russia. They translated the liturgy into what is now referred to as Old Church Slavonic. About 988 A.D. ,Grand Prince Vladimir I married a Byzantine princess and consequently became a Christian. Under his reign, most of his people also became Christians. Shrines, monasteries, churches and basilicas , some of which date back to those early times, dot the landscape of the former Russian Empire with tributes to the Blessed Virgin Mary. A true Russian has deep veneration for the Mother of God at the root of his soul.


The sacred and revered icon of Our Lady of Kazan, which depicts the Mother of God holding her Divine yet fully human Infant near her left cheek, is considered one of the most precious spiritual treasures of the Russian people and has been a vital cultural expression of their collective soul during the last thousand years.


The icon’s origins are rooted in the early founding days of the church of the apostles. The icon’s journey to Russia began in Constantinople. From there, it was brought across the Black Sea and up the Volga River to a monastery in the city of Kazan, which lies deep in the interior of the former Mongolian Empire.

The sacred presence of God that believers experienced as they prayed before the icon led them to deep levels of interior illumination that vastly enriched their understanding  of God’s Heavenly Kingdom. By approximately 1101 , the icon was revered throughout the Russian lands wherever the Christian faith flourished. Russian pilgrims traveled vast distances on foot to pray before the holy Presence they experienced in the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. Folk dances, songs and festivals commemorated its power and beauty. Yet , the icon’s fame was just beginning. 

In 1209 the city of Kazan was overrun and conquered. Angry mobs destroyed the city and the monastery with it. The icon was lost in the rubble, but its memory lingered in the songs and festivals of the faithful. 

Three hundred seventy years later , July 8, 1579 , a small, nine-year old girl named Matrona  was suddenly startled by an immense flash of light. She fell to her knees in amazement at the beauty, holiness, and eternal kindness of the Mother of God, who stood on a cloud and was clothed in the brilliance of God’s unconditional love for His people of the earth. The Beautiful Lady from Heaven asked the child to rescue the ancient and holy icon of Our Lady of Kazan from the burnt-out ruins of the monastery near Matrona’s home.

“The icon of Our Lady of Kazan lives !” the people shouted as they heard the news of Matrona’s apparition. “What have we done to deserve such a gift ?” some of the wiser ones dared ask. With great joy and expectation, they quickly assembled in the ruins.


Matrona quietly repeated the instructions she had heard from the Beautiful Lady from Heaven. The people began to sing the folk songs that assured them of God’s love and providence as they dug in the ruins. In the blink of an eye, they found the miraculous icon.

“It’s true ! It’s True! “ they shouted one to another. Suddenly there was total silence. People had fallen to their knees in astonishment and awe as they experienced the sacred presence in the icon. The Patroness and Protectress of the Russian People was once again among the flock of Mary’s Divine Son.


Word spread like the light of dawn after a dark night. Thousands upon thousands were once again singing the ancient songs of their spiritual heritage, gathered at the site of the apparition of the Mother of God. Festivals and celebrations filled the people’s hearts with love, gratitude and joy. Even the high-ranking clergy and aristocracy wept with amazement. Intellectuals agreed with the peasants that although of ancient age, the image seemed clear, beautiful, unforgettable. People spoke of a divine light that radiated forth from the sacred icon of Kazan. 

Almost immediately, miracles and healing occurred in the lives of those who gazed with reverence upon the holy, and by now, miraculous icon of Our Lady of Kazan. As the centuries rolled along, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan, housed in a convent especially constructed for it by the czar, became known throughout the Russian Empire as the Liberatrix and Protectress of Holy Mother Russia.

Peter the Great carried the Holy and Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Kazan for his banner when he marched into battle against the enemies of Russia. When he transferred the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg , he carried the Holy and Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Kazan with great homage across the vast stretch of Russian soil that separated the two cities, amid the prayerful songs of the Russian people who lined his path. At St. Petersburg, Peter the great enshrined the sacred icon within his city and the transfer of the capital was complete.


Later, when Napoleon was making inroads into Russian territory in his attempt to conquer Russia, the people gathered in prayer vigils before the sacred and revered icon to implore the intercession of the Mother of God on behalf of Holy Mother Russia. They sang the ancient songs that commemorate the icon. They prayed the prayers of their ancestors. When Napoleon was finally defeated , the people of Holy Mother Russia  attributed their victory to the intercession of the Mother of God through their veneration of the Holy and Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.


During the reign of Alexander II , a magnificent basilica modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome, was constructed in Moscow at what would later be called Red Square. The faithful thronged in pilgrimage to the beautiful basilica created to house the sacred icon. Families spoke about the Presence that each succeeding generation of Russians treasured in the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. Until the revolution of 1917, miracles and healings proliferated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Kazan in Moscow and were attributed to the presence of the holy icon.


The Bolsheviks recognized the danger to their plans that the icon of Our Lady of Kazan symbolized as the “soul of the Russian people”. After all, their goal was to convince the world that there is no such thing as an eternal soul in a human being. Therefore, in an act of violent terrorism, the revolutionaries destroyed the Basilica of Our Lady of Kazan on October 13, 1917 . the revolutionaries intended to prove, by this senseless act of destruction , that God does not exist. Officials mocked the faith and ridiculed the spiritual heritage of the Russian People as they boasted of their violence.


What the Bolsheviks and most of the Russian people, did not know was that as the basilica of Our Lady of Kazan fell, the Mother of God was appearing in another location in Europe where She spoke about the Russian people and their fate. The place where the Patroness and Protectress of all Russia spoke to her children in Russia, and in all the world, on October 13, 1917 , was Fatima, Portugal. She said :

“ If humanity does not turn back to God, Russia will spread errors and terrors worldwide. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. Russia will be converted. A period of peace will be given to the world.”

God never forgets His children. The sacred and revered icon of Our Lady of Kazan was mysteriously removed from Russia at the time of the Bolshevik revolution. Later in the century, it was discovered in a castle in England.

People throughout the world who heard the messages of our Lady of Fatima began to pray, even as early as 1917, for the conversion of Russia, as the Blessed Mother requested. Billions of individual prayers and sacrifices have ascended as incense before the Throne of God from all over the earth on behalf of the people of Russia since that time.


Many citizens in Holy Mother Russia have fallen even deeper into poverty, oppression, ignorance and suffering during the absence from Russian soil of the Holy and Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. There is a shortage of food: fresh vegetables and fruit are particularly scarce and quite costly in the cities. The black market thrives and Russian mothers do the same work as men and have little time to spend with their families. Children are placed in state-run-day-care centers.


The collapse of the iron Curtain followed the unprecedented apparitions of the Mother of God at Medjugorje, where the Patroness and Protectress of all Russia identified herself as the Queen of Peace. Seventy-five years after its destruction, the great Basilica of Our Lady of Kazan is being reconstructed at red Square, largely through the generosity of children of the Mother of God throughout the world.


The Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, His Holiness Aleksey II , received a delegation of foreign Christian pilgrims, including Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox worshipers from the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, in Moscow Cathedral at Red Square on October 13, 1992. He announced:

‘We know of the message at Fatima. During the dark years, that message was our hope. We know that the original Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is housed in a beautiful, Byzantine-style Shrine constructed especially for its exile at Fatima. We look forward to its return to Russia. Perhaps then, we the people of Russia shall know peace and abundance once again. Those who have kept the faith should not be proud. We are all sinners. Now, together, we have a great task to accomplish.’”

 

Copyright  © 1995   Janice T. Connell


_________________
    " . . . you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man . . . This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness. You should know, too, that with him is God " . . .   - St. Anthony the Great   

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