Heritage of the ROCOR
Preparing for a Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon
When the Holy Synod and the Ruling Bishop have blessed for the miraculous Kursk-root icon to visit the Diocese, it will be scheduled to visit as many parishes as possible during the period of its stay. It is the tradition of our Church Abroad that when the holy icon visits a parish, the local clergy arrange for it also to visit as many homes of parishioners as possible, to bless and sanctify them with the grace of the Mother of God present in her miraculous icon. Many of the faithful of our Church Abroad await this home-visitation of the miraculous icon as amongst of the most longed-for moments in the life of the home Church.
There are certain preparations that should be taken in both cases — parish and home visits — so that the icon is received with due dignity and piety (note: the following are general guidelines for parishes and the faithful; the Synod maintains a listing of rules for the visit of the icon, outlining its care, transportation, etc., which are provided directly to the clergy before the icon visits; it may also be requested from the Chancellery):
Preparing for the icon’s visit to your parish:
- Before the icon’s arrival the Church temple should be decorated with flowers, as if for Pascha, and a special analoy placed in the centre of the temple, ready to receive the icon. This should be a sturdy analoy, and in no circumstances a folding one. When preparing floral decorations for the icon upon the analoy, sisterhoods may wish to take note that the size of the Kursk-root icon is approximately 35.6 cm (14 inches) wide by 41.9 cm (16.5 inches) tall. A place for donations is placed near the icon, with a sign marked ‘Plate Collection for the Miraculous Kursk-root Icon of the Mother of God.’
- Those who wish may want to print out copies of the Moleben and Akathist to the Kursk-root icon, available on this web site in Church Slavonic, English and French. When no other service is scheduled in a given parish, this is the service that is normally sung in the presence of the icon on its visits.
- At the scheduled time for the arrival of the icon in the church, all the faithful should be gathered beforehand. We greet the arrival of the Kursk-root icon formally, led by the clergy, in much the same practical manner as the greeting of a Hierarch before the Divine Liturgy — but with yet greater splendour, since in receiving the miraculous icon we are welcoming the presence of the Theotokos herself. All the faithful should be encouraged to buy a candle before the icon arrives, and everyone should be holding this lit candle in their hands when the icon is greeted.
- Faithful should not crowd or push to touch the icon as it is carried into the temple during the greeting, but wait until it has been placed upon the analoy. Once it is there, the Churchwarden is responsible to ensure that it is approached with dignity as well as to ensure proper practical care (e.g. women must be told to remove any lip gloss before venerating the icon; under no circumstances should anyone attempt to open the metal riza, etc.).
- The miraculous icon is always to be actively watched over while it is the temple, by appropriate members of the parish administration. It is never left alone.
- Under no circumstances is the icon to be cleaned or wiped with any cleaning agent (sprays, etc.).
Preparing for the icon’s visit to your home:
- A Priest brings the icon to homes in order to bless them with the special grace of the Mother of God. During the visit, each room of your home will be blessed, and a short moleben (prayer service) served before the icon — in a similar manner to house blessings after Theophany. These home visits are arranged with your local Priest during the period that the icon is in your region: please contact him directly to request such a visit.
- Before the Priest arrives at your home with the holy icon, a table should be prepared where it may be placed during the moleben. It is recommended that the table be covered with a clean white tablecloth, and that a pillow in a clean white pillowcase be set on it (on which the icon can be rested). A candle or lampada is lit either before the icon or in your icon corner (if it is in the same room); and you should write out a list of names for commemoration (of the living only) and place this on the table.
- If the visit with the icon takes place in the evening when it is dark, the lights should be turned on in all rooms, since the miraculous icon will be carried around the whole house or apartment.
- After the conclusion of the house blessing, it is customary for the individual or family to provide a small meal or tea to the Priest, and to have a short time for spiritual discussion. We always ensure that we arrange the room so that our backs are not towards the icon while eating and conversing.
- There is no cost or fee associated with a visitation to your home of the Kursk-root icon; however, it is customary for families to make donation or offering on such occasions — these donations can be handed to the Priest, but they are gathered not for his benefit, but for the support of the Holy Synod, since it is the longstanding custom that donations received from the travels of the icon are one of the main means of support of the Synodal Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.