Augustine Sokolovski

On the ninth Friday after Easter, which this year falls on June 16, the Church celebrates in honor of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign. Many events in the history of the Russian Church over the centuries relate to this icon. The Sign is one of the most revered images of the Mother of God in our Last Times in the history of the world.

Through her image, the Most Holy Theotokos has shown her intercession since ancient times. After all, according to legend, the icon was found at the end of the 13th century. During the dramatic events of the last century, the icon shared the fate of our divided Fatherland. As a result, after the Civil War, she ended up in New York and became the main shrine of the Russian diaspora. Suffice it to say that it was in honor of this image that the cathedral church of the Russian Church Abroad was consecrated.

The daily celebration in honor of one or another icon of the Theotokos or even several images at the same time is an exceptional feature of our liturgical calendar. Thanks to it, popular piety is inspired, and theology acquires a new impetus to comprehend how the practice and dogma of icon veneration in the history of the Church revealed to the world the Image of Mary, whose intercession before the Son and God is immeasurably great.

It is also important to say that during the tragic civil confrontation after the 1917 Revolution in Russia, the icon, or rather, the One who is depicted on it, walked a lot with white armies. This tradition of the Icon-Wanderer has been preserved to this day. For us, the Orthodox of the 21st century, living in a world of simplified communication, and, perhaps, already accustomed to the transfer of the shrines themselves, especially in Russia and other Orthodox countries, it is important to feel its uniqueness. Grace is communication, and the true communication of people among themselves and before God is grace. “True luxury is the luxury of human relationships,” Saint-Exupery wrote about this from a secular perspective.

Therefore, it is extremely important and truly precious that the clergy of the Russian Church make pilgrimages with the icon to different countries to this day. In this simultaneous pilgrimage of people to the icon and the icon itself to people, the special blessing inherent in this shrine to unite. Thus, the special connection between the Mother of God and the Church is revealed. “I believe in the One Church,” says the Creed. Therefore, the true Orthodoxy of the Church is in the visible unity of all who belong to her.