That video above is from 2009, when the Kursk Root icon returned to the Russian city of Kursk for the first time since an Orthodox bishop smuggled it out in 1919 to protect it from the communists. Look at the tens of thousands of Russian Christians who showed up to welcome it back!

We are incredibly privileged to be able to welcome this ancient relic to our own little Orthodox mission parish near St. Francisville next week. Here’s the press release:

FAMED RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICON TO VISIT ST. FRANCISVILLE ON APRIL 9

On Wednesday April 9, the people of south Louisiana will have a rare opportunity to see one of the most precious and historic religious relics of Russia. The Kursk Root icon, a medieval Orthodox Christian work, will be at St. John the Theologian Orthodox Mission near St. Francisville for one evening only. At 6pm, Orthodox priests will conduct a prayer service (Akathist) in the presence of the icon, after which the faithful will be allowed to pray in its presence.

The Kursk Root icon depicts Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and her Son. This style of icon is called a “Virgin Of The Sign,” because it teaches believers that Jesus, the divine Son of God, was born of a human mother. Since the days of the early church, icons have been central to Orthodox Christian worship, but Orthodox Christians do not worship icons. Rather, they see icons as “windows” into heaven that capture and reveal to the faithful truths of the Christian faith.

The Kursk Root icon was discovered by a hunter in 1259 under a tree root near the Russian city of Kursk, which had been sacked by an Islamic invasion. Over the years, the Kursk Root icon witnessed many turbulent events in Russian history, including attempts by unbelievers to destroy it. The icon has been revered by tsars, princes, and peasants alike. It has been associated with a number of miraculous healings and occurrences, including the 19th-century healing of a desperately ill child who grew up to become St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the greatest holy men of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1919, after the Bolshevik Revolution, a Russian Orthodox bishop smuggled the Kursk Root icon out of communist Russia for its protection. It eventually arrived in the United States, where since 1957 it has been kept safe by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia (ROCOR), in the church’s New York City cathedral.

The Kursk Root icon will be in Louisiana for one evening only, at the St. Francisville mission, giving all area Christians and others the opportunity to see and to pray in the presence of one of the holiest and most ancient icons of Christianity’s 1,000-year history in Russia.

“All are welcome to come and experience the rich heritage of The Orthodox Church,” said Father Matthew Harrington, pastor of St. John the Evangelist mission.

For more information and directions to the St. John mission, please visit the mission’s website: saintjohnmission.org, or contact the mission’s priest, Father Matthew at fr.matthewharrington@gmail.com or by phone at(225) 635-6787. The mission is located in the Starhill community, five miles south of St. Francisville, at 4603 Old Highway 61.

Please be advised that a GPS glitch will send unwary users to an address significantly north of the town of St. Francisville. Pilgrims arriving on Highway 61 from south of town should turn left onto the Powell Station Road, directly across from Highway 966, and make an immediate right onto Old Highway 61.

If you live in the area, I hope you’ll come. Catholics, Protestants, all Christians, and even those who don’t believe, but who want to view an icon with such powerful historical and cultural meaning, are invited. If you’ve never been to an Orthodox Christian prayer service, this is a great time to come and see.