UPDATE (2/4/16): For all the Faithful living in or near Atlanta, Georgia, the Blessed Kursk Root Icon will be available for veneration at the Cathedral of the Annunciation on Saturday, February 5th, 2016. Orthros to begin at 8 AM, with the Divine Liturgy at 9 AM to commemorate the feast day of St. Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople.
This coming Sunday, the church will commemorate the ancestors of Christ: Fathers, Mothers, Judges and Prophets who provide a direct link between the Old Testament and God’s Incarnation in the second person of the Holy Trinity.
In commemoration of the Sunday of the Forefathers, this week’s Icon of the Theotokos invokes several of Christ’s ancestors. The Theotokos is depicted with her arms outstretched, holding the Christ Child, while above her, God the Father is depicted as the Lord of Hosts. Surrounding her are nine Prophets who wrote about the birth of Christ (some of whom are counted among his ancestors). Starting clockwise from the right these are: King Solomon; the Prophets Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah and Habbakuk; the Judge Gideon; the Prophets Isaiah, Moses, and King David. How then did this rich, intricate icon come to be discovered?
On September 8th 1259, a hunter in the city of Kursk noticed an icon lying face downwards on the face of a root. Lifting the icon of the Theotokos upward, a spring of water began to spout from the icon’s former resting place. In recognition of this miracle, the hunter informed friends and other townspeople, enlisting their help to construct a chapel, which would house the miracle-working icon. Residents from the nearby town of Rylsk came to pray to the Theotokos, who healed their sorrows and pains.
Later, the icon was transferred to a new church in Rylsk, which honored the Nativity of the Theotokos. However, the icon would mysteriously disappear from the church and reappear on the former site of the root. Realizing that the Theotokos preferred her icon’s initial humble surroundings, the people of Rylsk left the icon in peace.
The icon, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, is credited with delivering Russia in two wars: in 1612 and 1812. The icon currently resides in ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) parish in New York, though several copies have been credited with miracles as well.