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  Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia-Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, arrived in St. Petersburg today
Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia-Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, arrived in St. Petersburg today. Tomorrow, he will consecrate a church at the St. Petersburg State Mining Institute. His Beatitude will spend the two following days-July 8 and 9-in Tikhvin, 200 kilometers east of St. Petersburg, to lead celebrations as the tiny town is regaining the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Tikhvin. "I regard the return of the holy image as a historical landmark-nay, an epoch-making event. The miracle-working icon will come back to the spot where it was revealed in 1383. Just think of all tearful prayers brought to this image! Of all sighs heaved from the bottom of the heart! Think of all joys and sorrows the pious were bringing with faith and hope to the feet of the Mother of God before Her icon! Remember all that, and you will see that the boons this ardently worshipped icon has bestowed on Russia defy imagination," said the Patriarch. Vast congregations that come to worship Our Lady of Tikhvin show how Russia thirsts for consolation and heavenly encouragement. "The icon of Tikhvin, under whose mystical protection the entire Russian Northwest is, provides such an encouragement and inspiration. Its return is an event of tremendous spiritual and historical purport. Now, we have been destined to witness it," His Beatitude went on. One of the most precious shrines of Eastern Christendom, the holy image belongs to the iconographic type of Hodegetria, or Lodestar. According to Church tradition, it came from the brush of St. Luke the Apostle and Evangelist in the 1st century. Transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in the 5th century, it vanished in 1383. As mediaeval chronicles have it, the icon miraculously appeared the same year above Lake Ladoga. Gliding in the air above the quiet waters, it stopped close to Tikhvin. The townspeople built a humble log church on the spot. Consecrated to the Assumption of Our Lady, it had the icon for its main treasure. Hence the name by which the image earned renown in Russia. Basil III the Grand Duke of Muscovy made a pilgrimage to Tikhvin in 1526 to start national worship of the miracle-working icon. A stone monastery was built on the spot of its appearance during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Basil's son. Nazis seized the little town during World War II. The icon was rescued from the invaders and placed in Pskov, not far from Tikhvin. The Orthodox Christian community of Riga overtook the treasure in 1944. Archbishop John of Riga (Janis Garklavs, in the world) fled to the U.S. in 1949, having the icon with him. The mystical treasure found its new abode in the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Chicago. After Archbishop John's demise, the icon came into the custody of his adoptive son, Archpriest Sergius Garklavs, whom it was bequeathed under a proviso-he was to restore the image to the Tikhvin Monastery in case it revived. Patriarch Alexis II met delegates of the Orthodox Church in America at the negotiation table, last January, when a final accord was reached for Russia to regain the icon. It left Chicago, June 20, to be brought to Riga and on to Moscow. The precious image reached St. Petersburg, June 28.
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