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Russian Orthodox Church a miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan
His Holiness John Paul II is determined to pass to the Russian Orthodox Church a miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan. The holy image has been preserved for many years in the private quarters of the papal apartments. "His Holiness announced to the Moscow Patriarchate several weeks ago his desire to make the gift to the Russian Orthodox Church," Joaquin Navarro Valz, official spokesman of the Holy See, says in a statement circulated yesterday. The precious icon will be passed to representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate in a ceremony of August 28. It has been the Pope's cherished dream to make the gift to Russia ever since he acquired the icon. "His Holiness hopes the Roman pilgrimage of Our Lady of Kazan will bring closer a desired unity of the Catholic and Orthodox churches," the statement goes on. All details and the membership of a delegation of the Holy See to go to Russia for the purpose will be made public quite soon, says Cardinal Navarro Valz. As Novosti learned from informed sources close to the Holy See, the icon will be restored to Kazan, the city where it was miraculously found in the 16th century. Negotiations on ceding the icon to Russia lasted many years and were extremely involved. Taking part in them were not only church dignitaries but prominent government functionaries and top-notch political activists. The Holy See was initially tying in the return of the icon with prospects for a pontifical visit to Russia. One of the best-worshipped shrines of the Russian Orthodox Church, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan is painted on a cypress board. It represents the Mother of God, waist-length, holding the Child in Her arms. The Child Jesus has His hand raised in blessing. As Church tradition has it, the icon was found, July 8, 1579, after one Matryona, a child of ten, saw it in a prophetic dream. Overcome with emotion, the pious little girl said to all who wouldlisten that the icon lay hidden in ashes on a burned-down homestead site, and the icon was unearthed on the spot she had described. Many miracles were committed by the holy image. Ousting Polish invaders from Moscow early in the 17th century was the most spectacular. Ecclesiastical experts have advanced a vast diversity of hypotheses on how the icon found its way to the pontifical apartments. The thaumaturgical image certainly was in Our Lady's Convent at Kazan before 1612, when it was removed to Moscow. An opulent cathedral in Red Square was consecrated to it, and was its abode till the icon was stolen in 1904. Its traces vanished from then on. Experts from Russia joined their colleagues of the Vatican City to study the icon a few years ago-and dated it to the 18th century, rather than the 16th, as was previously assumed. The conclusion was made public last year.
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