For several years, the various Orthodox Church communities of Eastern Iowa have gathered at each other’s temples to celebrate Pan-Orthodox Vespers on each of the five Sunday evenings of Great Lent.
On a recent Lenten Sunday evening, St. Raphael of Brooklyn Church in Iowa City, Iowa, hosted clergy and faithful from several parishes for a special evening. Seven priests, a deacon and many dozens of parishioners, representing at least eight parishes and five jurisdictions, anticipated the arrival of a very special guest. The wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, which is visiting churches in the Midwest this Spring, was brought into our midst that evening.
The Kursk Root Icon was discovered by a hunter at the roots of a tree in the forest outside of Kursk, Russia, in 1295. It has been associated with many healings over the centuries, and even up to our own day. It was this icon which God used to heal a ten-year-old St. Seraphim of Sarov of a serious disease. This same icon was in the presence of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco when he reposed in the Lord. Enemies of God have tried to destroy the icon several times over the years, but to no avail.
Since the middle of the Twentieth Century, the icon has been kept in New York at the Russian Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign. After a peaceful Vespers punctuated with the beautiful voices of the St. Raphael Church choir, all present had the opportunity to venerate this powerful expression of God’s grace. Afterward, the clergy and faithful enjoyed each other’s company and shared a delicious meal prepared by St. Raphael Church members.
Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, pray to your Son and our God for the salvation of our souls!
Photo credits: Fr. Dustin Lyon
Source: The Word Magazine