On October 6, 2015, at a briefing at Koltsovo Airport in Ekaterinburg, Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk, His Eminence Metropolitan German of Kursk and Rylsk and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan spoke about the veneration of the miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign":
Metropolitan Kirill: As it happened, the icon left the borders of our Fatherland, but it always remained in our loving hearts. This is one of the most important and most revered icons of the Orthodox Church, the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign". Today we give thanks to God and His Mother for the mercy occasioned upon us, and also thank His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York for their blessing for this first visit to our city ever.
Miracles occurred from the Kursk Icon during difficult, tumultuous times. We hope that this icon today makes our lives more peaceful, humbles our hearts, so that we would live in joy, and would thank God for every moment of our lives.
A question to Vladyka Nicholas: we welcome you to our land, we would like to know, do you think that this visit of the icon from America can help unify and pacify our peoples?
Vladyka Nicholas: Without a doubt, we will strengthen spiritually and unify. The Mother of God is our Mother. She hears our prayers and our pleas. That is why we must all pray before Her icon, beseeching Her aid, consolation and the forgiveness of sins-this is the path towards unity.
Tell us about some of the icons that happened from the icon.
Vladyka Nicholas: One cannot, of course, briefly describe all of the miracles. A multitude of miraculous healings and other forms of aid have occurred. The Mother of God hears our prayers, but the most important thing is that we must receive everything with a pure heart and mind. Bring prayers and repentance, and the Mother of God will grant everything we need for salvation.
How did the icon end up in New York, and how do Orthodox believers venerate it there?
Vladyka Nicholas: The icon is housed in the Synod of Bishops [of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia- transl.], and for the faithful, it is a great intercessor, a great holy icon. The icon left with the emigration from Russia in 1920, and by 1951 was brought to New York, and is now kept in the cathedral dedicated to this holy icon.
Your Eminence, Metropolitan German, since 2009 the Kursk Icon makes visits to the site of its miraculous discovery. Tell us please, how is the icon greeted in the land of Kursk?
Metropolitan German: The icon is greeted in the Kursk region with great ceremony: many pilgrims from other cities, tens of thousands of faithful, an enormous procession of the cross goes from Kursk-Root Hermitage to Znamensky Cathedral, which was built in the icon’s honor in 1825. This is our greatest holy icon, for it appears, as Vladyka Kirill noted, in 1295 on the site where Kursk-Root Hermitage now stands. The city of Kursk itself was given new life from this icon. Even before the Time of Troubles [early 17 th century- transl .] our city was razed to the ground, and by order of the pious Tsar Feodor Ioannovich, who heard about the miracles stemming from this icon, the city of Kursk was rebuilt from its ruins. All of the main events surrounding our city are connected with the Kursk-Root Icon, every family has experience some event, some grace-filled help from the icon. St Seraphim of Sarov was as a child healed from a debilitating illness by direct action of this icon-his mother brought him up to the icon with faith and piety, and he was completely healed. When the icon was brought into the dusty fields plagued by many years of drought, abundant rains began, and Kursk became the breadbasket of surrounding oblasts. During wartime, the icon was often brought to visit our armed forces. Tsars and Emperors came to venerate the icon in Kursk. Today the icon has a special mission-it travels throughout the world and awakens faith in human souls, it unifies them. It remains the main holy icon of Kursk and is now also the main holy icon of the Russian diaspora. After the historic reconciliation of the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church-the Church of the Fatherland and the Church Abroad--in 2007, beginning in 2009, the icon has come to Kursk annually, and gathers a multitude of people. Day and night people stream to venerate the holy image--some 200,000 people on average. We call the days of the visit of the Kursk Icon “the Pascha of Autumn.” There is a general uplifting of the spirit of the people, because in our land, they sense it, they stand joyfully for hours to kiss the icon. I hope we see the same in Ekaterinburg.
Metropolitan Kirill: Vladyka German, I would like to add, too, that the procession of the cross from Kursk-Root Hermitage to Znamensky Cathedral was always the largest in the Russian Empire. Nowhere else did so many people gather: not the Verlikoretsk procession, nor any other. It was a procession of the greatest number of people, it was truly a procession of the people, which is reminiscent of the procession we have in the summer in honor of Emperor Nicholas II.
After the press conference, the archpastors of the Russian Orthodox Church and of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and their clergymen departed for the Church-on-the-Blood to perform divine services before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign."