On the morning of September 19, 2011, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign,” the main holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was brought to Astana, the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The miracle-working icon was brought to the nation’s capital by a delegation of the Russian Church Abroad headed by His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain.
The head of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan, His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, welcomed to delegation at the entrance to Uspensky Cathedral, along with His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakurian (Georgian Orthodox Church); His Eminence Archbishop Anthony of Ural and Guriev; His Eminence Archbishop Elevfery of Chimkent and Akmolin; His Grace Bishop Anatoly of Kostanai and Petropavlovsk; His Grace Bishop Lazar of Narva and Prichudsk; His Grace Vicar Bishop Gennady of the Astana Diocese, Administrator of the Synod of the Metropolitan District; His Grace Bishop Sevastian of Karagandin and Shakhtinsk; His Grace Bishop Philaret of Novokakhovsk and Genichevsk (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate); Archimandrite Sergi (Karamyshev), Dean of the Astana Church Deanery; Protopriest Valery Zakharov, Dean of Astana Churches; Protopriest Sergy Snopkov, Dean of Petropavlovsk Churches; clergymen of the Borjomi Diocese, and clergymen of the Astana, Almaty and other dioceses of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan.
The holy icon was brought into the Cathedral, accompanied by the singing of the troparion “Be thou an invincible rampart for us,” and place on an analogion adorned with flowers. After the greeting of the icon, Divine Liturgy began, headed by Metropolitan Alexander, who was joined by the visiting bishops, the hierarchs of the Metropolitan District and the clergymen of the Kazakhstan dioceses.
Praying at the service were Abbess Rafaila (Vasilenko) of Astana’s Convent of the Icon of the Mother of God “the Searcher of the Lost” along with its nuns. Many faithful from various cities and towns also came to venerate the great icon.
Invited to attend was also the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Consul of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr MN Bocharnikov; the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Consul of Ukraine, Mr. OA Demin; the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Consul of Belarus, Mr VA Brylev; representatives of the Diplomatic Missions of the US and Serbia; representatives of the Agency on Religious Affiars of the Republic of Kazakhstan; the Apostolic Nuncio in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Archbishop Miguel Mauri Buendia; the Catholic Archbishop-Metropolitan Tomas Peta of the Archdiocese of St Maria, and the Catholic Titular Bishop Athanasius Scheider of Chelerinsk.
At the end of Liturgy, a procession of the cross was held with the Kursk-Root Icon.
Before commencing, Metropolitan Alexander read the Epistle of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and welcomed the guests. The letter addressed to the Orthodox faithful of Kazakhstan from His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was read by Archbishop Mark. Mr Bocharnikov read a greeting from the Russian Minister of Culture, Mr AA Avdeev. A congratulatory message addressed to the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Metropolitan District was read by the Vice President of the Agency on Religious Affairs of Kazakhstan, who pointed out the importance of this event for the spiritual and cultural life of the country and the important role of the Orthodox Church in strengthening the spirit of peace, mutual understanding and brotherly love in the multi-national and multi-confessional Republic of Kazakhstan.
At the end of divine services, Metropolitan Alexander and the visiting hierarchs blessed a construction site and cornerstone next to Uspensky Cathedral destined to be Kazakhstan Metropoliate’s new SS Cyril and Methodius Administrative and Spiritual-Cultural Center, along with a church dedicated to the Astana Icon of the Mother of God. A gramata on the consecration of this site signed by Vladyka Metropolitan was read aloud and placed into a metal capsule for insertion in the cornerstone.
Over the course of the entire day, the clergymen of the churches of Astana performed molebens and akathists before the Kursk Icon. Thousands of Orthodox Christians were able to venerate the great Orthodox holy icon, receiving consolation and spiritual strength. In memory of the visit of this miraculous icon to Astana, the worshipers received commemorative paper icons of the Kursk-Root Icon inscribed with the blessing of Metropolitan Alexander
A video report on the visit of the icon published by a local television station can be viewed here: http://newskaz.ru/video/20110919/1908751.html