Our Lady of Kazan

July 8: Our Lady of Kazan, Russia 1579

This miraculous icon, also known as the Theotokos of Kazan, is thought to have originated in Constantinople in the 13th century before it was taken to Russia. When the Turks took Kazan in 1438, the icon may have been hidden. Ivan the Terrible liberated Kazan in 1552, and the town was destroyed by fire in 1579.

The icon was eventually found in the ruins of a burnt-out house at Kazan on the River Volga on July 8th in 1579. According to tradition, the location of the icon was revealed during a dream by the Blessed Virgin Mary to a ten year old girl named Matrona. Matrona told the local bishop of her dream, but he did not believe her. There were two more similar dreams, after which Matrona and her mother went to the place indicated by the Blessed Virgin and dug in the ruins what had been a house until the uncovered the icon. It appeared untouched by the flames, with the colors as vivid and brilliant as if it were new.

The bishop took the icon to the Church of Saint Nicholas, and immediately there was a miracle of a blind man’s sight being restored to him. A monastery was built over the place where the icon had been found.

Known as the Holy Protectress of Russia, the icon was stolen on June 29th, 1904. The thieves were later caught and claimed that they had destroyed the icon after taking the gold frame and jewels attached to the image. In any event, the original has never been found, though there are many copies in existence, thanks to the popularity of the icon. Many of the copies are known to be miracle working.

The Russian peasantry attributes the rise of Communism in their country to the loss of the image of their heavenly protectress. There is a legend that a copy of the image of Our Lady of Kazan was taken in procession upon the fortifications of Leningrad to assist the defenders in defeating the Nazis during the Siege of Leningrad.

Before the revolution, perhaps still, sometimes a Russian mother would give a copy of this picture to her daughter at her wedding, as a blessing on her and her new home.

There is a Russian feast of Mary under this title as a commemoration of its founding on July 8th. There are many replicas of this picture, of which the best known was in the church of Our Lady of Kazan at Moscow.

The Byzantine chapel of the Oriental Institute at Rome is dedicated in honor of Our Lady of Kazan.

In 1993 a copy of the icon was given to Pope John Paul II, who kept it in his personal study before it was given to representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2004.

*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources

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