November 4

Our Lady of Kazan


Our Lady of Kazan was a highly-venerated icon of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is said to have originated in Constantinople and was transported to Russia in the 12th century where it disappeared in 1438.  It was miraculously rediscovered in Kazan after a vision in 1579. The city had been destroyed in a fire, after which a young girl had repeated dreams of the location of the icon. Despite scepticism of local church authorities it was found in the ruins of a house where it had been stored to protect it from the Tatar horde. Copies of the icon spread widely and churches were established in its honour. Prayers to this icon were credited for saving the country from invasion by Poles, Swedes and Napoleon.

In 1904 the icon was stolen and, though its gold frame was recovered, the icon itself was never seen again. The disasters of the 1905 Russian Revolution, the loss of the Russo-Japanese War, the Great War and the Communist takeover are attributed to its loss.

A splendid 16th-century copy was once owned by Pope John Paul II who returned it to the Russian Orthodox Church. It is now back in Kazan in the Cathedral of the Elevation of the Holy Cross on the site where it had been recovered.

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