St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles Orthodox Christian Church of Stillwater will host the 700-year-old Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God on Wednesday. The icon will be available for public viewing from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Lee Company Event Room, 1002 South Lewis.
“What occurs every other year is the icon travels around all of the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad,” Father Matthew Floyd said. “We say icon because it comes from the Greek, meaning image. It is something beautiful that brings us closer to God.”
The Kursk-Root Icon is a Medieval Orthodox Christian work that depicts Mary, the mother of Jesus, with her arms outstretched, and Jesus. The style of the icon is called “Virgin of The Sign,” teaching believers that Jesus was born of a human mother.
The icon also includes an image of Christ above Mary and nine prophets surrounding her, added to the original icon in 1597 by Tsaritsa Irene Theodorovna. The wooden icon is encased in blue and gold riza, which is a decorative metal covering, for protection.
“An Orthodox icon is very different than a Renaissance painting because it is very stylized. It is not meant to be realistic, but instead it has a very different perspective. They are not meant to be like a photograph, but they are depicting theologically what is going on,” Floyd said.
Floyd said the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God has been associated with resistance to anti-Christian aggression throughout history.
The icon was originally found near a city destroyed by a Tartar invasion in 1295. Floyd said a hunter stumbled upon it lying facedown on the roots of a tree near the abandoned city of Kursk. Throughout history, it has survived many turbulent events in Russia, including attempts to steal or destroy it.
When Russia was under communist rule after the Bolshevik Revolution, a Russian Orthodox bishop smuggled the icon out of the country to protect it. Since 1957, the icon has been in the possession of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), or the Russian Church abroad, at the New York City Cathedral.
“During the diaspora of Russian Orthodox immigrants fleeing the repressive Bolshevik regime, the Kursk-Root Icon became a comfort and a symbol that God ultimately conquers evil,” said Floyd. “After the fall of Communism in Russia and the resurgence of Orthodox Christianity in a land that had seen a persecution more systematic and violent than even the early Roman persecution of Christianity, thousands of individuals flock to sites where the Kursk-Root Icon visits.”
In 2007, the ROCOR and the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia formally reunited and now the icon tours the world, and will be making a short visit to Stillwater. Father Deacon Aaron Taylor will present a brief, but lively and interesting talk concerning the history of Christian iconography from 6:30–7 p.m. At 7 p.m. an Orthodox Christian Moleben (prayer service) will be conducted. This service lasts about 40 Minutes. Any and all are welcome and encouraged to attend.
“Anyone interested in attending is welcomed and encouraged to come,” said Floyd. “We are not worshiping that image, we are venerating what is depicted. The way of using images in Christian worship is as old as the catacombs.”
Source: Stillwater News Press