December 1, 2016
Washington, DC: "The Theotokos has Come to Us Once More!" – Kursk Root Icon visits St. John the Baptist Cathedral

With the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, the Thanksgiving holiday and three days following have become a traditional visitation period of the Kursk Root Icon to Washington, DC.

The parishioners of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington prepared for the third annual visit of the revered Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God eagerly and with trembling. The church was cleaned, and the central analogia decorated with flowers in anticipation of the Icon’s arrival.

His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, guardian of the wonderworking Icon, arrived in Washington on Wednesday evening, November 23, the eve of the wonderful American national holiday of Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving coincided with the feast of the myrrh-streaming Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God and the memory of the holy martyr Victor of Damascus (the namesday of Archpriest Victor Potapov, rector of St. John’s Cathedral).

The following day, November 24, the Kursk Root Icon and Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan were greeted triumphally at the cathedral. Bishop Nicholas celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by five priests and three deacons. Also praying in the altar was His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah (former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America).

Upon conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas delivered a sermon in English. A video recording of the sermon, on the topic of sacrificial service to Christ, can be viewed here:

After Liturgy and a thanksgiving moleben, worshippers gathered in the parish hall for a traditional Thanksgiving Day luncheon.

The Kursk Root Icon spent the day on Friday, November 25, visiting ailing and elderly parishioners. In the second half of the day, the Kursk Icon visited the Holy Apostles Church in Beltsville, MD, where a moleben and Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos was served.

The following morning, the Icon traveled from Beltsville to Holy Transfiguration Church in Baltimore, where local Orthodox Christians had an opportunity to lift up their prayers before this great holy Icon.

On Saturday, November 26, the Icon was once more greeted at St. John the Baptist Cathedral prior to the start of the festal All-Night Vigil, led by His Grace, Bishop Nicholas, who was co-served by five priests and four deacons. The cathedral’s two choirs sang the service in Slavonic and English. Metropolitan Jonah prayed in the altar and helped the cathedral priests in hearing confessions. As always, there was a great number of those coming to confession, wishing on the following day to commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. At the Polyeleos, magnifications were sung for the Kursk Icon of the Mother of God and for the Holy Apostle Philip.

On Sunday, November 27, the Kursk Icon arrived at the cathedral, and Bishop Nicholas entered the church to the peal of bells. The cathedral’s longtime warden, Dimitry M. Zaretsky, met His Grace with bread and salt, offering a greeting in which he expressed the clergy and parishioners’ gratitude to their dear guest for supporting the parish’s annual tradition of visitation by the Kursk Icon.

Prior to the start of Divine Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas was joined by Metropolitan Jonah.

At Liturgy, a multitude of worshippers communed from four chalices. Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas offered an edifying sermon on the subject of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

After Liturgy, a moleben was served before the wonderworking image, followed by a bountiful luncheon organized by the cathedral’s Holy Virgin Protection Sisterhood.

The day concluded with several more visits by the Icon to the homes of grievously ill parishioners.

Monday, November 28, arrived, and it was time to bid farewell to the Kursk Icon until next year.

Thus ended the third annual visit of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora to the American capital. Now the time has come for cathedral parishioners to focus their attention and efforts on preparing for a wonderful event: the annual St. Herman Orthodox Youth Conference, which will take place in Washington from December 23-27.

Archpriest Victor Potapov

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese