‘Wonder-working’ Kursk-Root icon presented at local parish
Mark Friedel Staff Reporter
The holy Kursk-Root icon of the Sign made its way to Saint Brigit Orthodox Christian Church Friday during a tour among churches within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) Diocese of Mid-America.
Father Steven Tolbert, rector at Saint Brigit, said the icon is one of the oldest in the Russian Orthodox Church, and has been linked to important events in Russian history, as well as, thousands of miracles around the world.
He said the history of the icon dates back to the 13th century when it was discovered by a hunter in the Kursk province of Russia.
During the Tatar invasion, the province of Kursk was emptied of people by the Horde of Batu and its principal city Kursk, became a wilderness. Afterwards, the city of Rylsk often traveled to the site to hunt wild animals.
On Sept. 8, 1259, one of the hunters, which was not far from ruined Kursk, noticed the icon lying face down on the ground next to the root of a tree. The hunter lifted it and saw the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod “Znamenie” icon of the Mother of God, such as was enshrined and venerated in the city of Novgorod. Just as the hunter lifted the holy icon, a strong spring of pure water surged up at the place where the icon rested.
WIth the help of friends, the hunter rebuilt a small chapel and place the newly-found icon in it. Residents of Rylsk began to visit the place of the holy object where glorified miracles of healing occurred.
Not long after, the icon was moved to Rylsk and placed in a new church in honor of the Nativity of the Theotokos, however, the icon did not remain there. It miraculously vanished and returned to its former place that is now the grounds of the Kursk Root Hermitage.
It was realized that the Theotokos preferred the place of its first miracle.
Tolbert said the icon was smuggled out of Russia in April of 1918 during the revolution, but was found several months later and returned to its original location. In 1920, it was taken from Russia and place in Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
It is said, the Holy Image rendered great assistance when Belgrade was bombed during WWII. Bombs never fell on the homes of residents who visited the icon.
Currently, the icon resides in the Cathedral in New York City and is now the most venerated icon in the Russian Orthodox Church.
St. Brigit Orthodox Church member Zoya R. said her emotions were high Friday after viewing the icon in person.
She said it was something special knowing the miraculous history and healings associated with the icon.
Saint Brigit’s is the only Orthodox Church within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.
For more information on the parish, call 9810360-4378 or visit saintbrigit.org.