Hundreds of people have visited a rare religious icon which dates back hundreds of years.
The Kursk Root icon was on show at the Orthodox Church of St John Chrysostom in Bentham, between Cheltenham and Gloucester.
The Greek and Russian parishes have shared the church for the past five years, and during the Lenten period especially worship together through to Easter, known as ‘Pascha.’
“We are very blessed to be visited by the Kursk Root Icon, a medieval Orthodox Christian work, which is credited with many miracles for individuals and at times of national peril up to the Russian revolution,” explained Father Mark Underwood, priest in charge of the Russian Church Abroad parish of Holy Prince Vladimir, Bentham. The visit of the icon is attracting clergy and worshippers from Bristol, Oxford, London and Wales.
The Kursk Root icon depicts Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and her Son. This style of icon is called a “Virgin Of The Sign,” because it teaches believers that Jesus, the divine Son of God, was born of a human mother. Since the days of the early church, icons have been central to Orthodox Christian worship, but Orthodox Christians do not worship icons. Rather, they see icons as “windows” into heaven that capture and reveal to the faithful truths of the Christian faith.
The Kursk Root icon was discovered by a hunter in 1259 under a tree root near the Russian city of Kursk, which had been sacked by an invasion. Over the years, the Kursk Root icon witnessed many turbulent events in Russian history, including attempts by unbelievers to destroy it. The icon has been revered by Tsars, princes, and peasants alike. It has been associated with a number of miraculous healings and occurrences, including the 19th-century healing of a desperately ill child who grew up to become St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the greatest holy men of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 1919, after the Bolshevik Revolution, a Russian Orthodox bishop smuggled the Kursk Root icon out of communist Russia for its protection. It eventually arrived in the United States, where since 1957 it has been kept safe by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia (ROCOR), in the church’s New York City cathedral. During the subsequent 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. After the fall of Communism in Russia and the resurgence of Orthodox Christianity tens of thousands of faithful flock to sites where the Kursk-Root icon visits.
SOURCE: Gloucestershire Live