Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Virgin of Kazan

Our Lady of Kazan (also called Theotokos of Kazan) is a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patron of the City of Kazan.  While the original has been lost to history, many older copies remain -- as well as newer ones like mine.

The original icon has a fascinating history.  The story goes that the icon was discovered on July 8, 1579, underground, in the City of Kazan by a little girl named Matrona.  According to tradition, the location of the image was revealed to her when the Blessed Mother spoke to her in an apparition.  The original icon was kept in the Theotokos Monastery of Kazan, built to commemorate the spot where it had been discovered.

On the night of June 29, 1904, the icon was stolen from the monastery.  Thieves apparently coveted the icon's gold frame which was ornamented with many valuable jewels.  Several years later, Russian police apprehended the thieves and recovered the frame.  The thieves declared that the icon itself had been burned, but it is more likely that it had been sold to a private collector.

Years later it was reported that the original had been acquired by the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, a Roman Catholic organization.  In the 1970's the Blue Army had then donated the icon to the shrine at Fatima, Portugal.  The icon was then tested to see how old it was and it turned out to be a copy made in the 1730's.  In 1993, this copy of the icon was given to Pope John Paul II who kept it in his quarters where it was venerated for the next 11 years.

In August of 2004, Pope John Paul II returned the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church.  It is now enshrined in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross which sits on the site where the monastery was located prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Finally, a copy of the famous icon is back home where Matrona originally found the icon at Our Lady's direction.

Here is a photograph of the icon purchased by the Blue Army and given to Fatima.  The icon is still in remarkably good condition considering that it was "written" in the 1730's.  The silver frame, while ornate, does not begin to compare, I am sure, with the original gold frame stolen in 1904.

VATICAN - AUGUST 25: Pope John Paul II presides at a ceremony at the Vatican to venerate and return the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Russian Orthodox Church on August 25, 2004 in Vatican City. By decision of the Pope, the icon is to be given to Patriarch Alexii II and, through him, to the Russian Orthodox Church and all the Russian people on August 28, the day that the Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

Now for a few recent snapshots of Miss Suki!  I know you are all looking forward to see how delightfully plump she is looking!

          Here Suki is seen hard at work determining if the sunshine is too bright to be shining on my antique rug.  She takes her household tasks very seriously.

          Here Suki is seen as she scans the balcony for those dastardly pigeons.  This is another task she takes quite seriously.  While doing this, she is also inspecting the plants to make certain that they have sufficient water.

          Here we see Suki just after she has finished making a paper Christmas decoration.  I received the materials from World Vision along with a request for money, of course.  (I don't contribute to them because we have very different viewpoints about certain serious issues.)  Anyway, Suki very kindly agreed to put the garland together for me.  Why she is wearing it I do not know.  As well, she seems to be a bit nonplussed because she is wearing it.  I will have to investigate this matter further -- before the garland becomes shredded paper!
I hope all of you remembered to set your clocks back before you went to bed last night.  I noticed a number of people hurrying into the Cathedral just as we finished the 8 to 9 a.m. Mass.  I am sure they thought it was already 10 a.m. and time for the 10 o'clock Mass as they looked very confused when they saw all the people leaving.  I think one of the sacristans finally made an announcement as suddenly a large group of people came out of the Church looking disgusted and fiddling with their watches.  I was outside waiting for Wheeltrans and, I am ashamed to say, feeling very smug because I had not forgotten -- this time!

May the peace of God be with you all.

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