Bishop Nicholas (Olhovsky) of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, caretaker of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign.”
-Your Grace, you were appointed caretaker of the miracle-working icon which has become the Hodigitria [“Shower of the Way”] of the Russian diaspora, and you have accompanied it on trips to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan…
-Let me add: California, Hawaii, and Canada. I went with the icon to Japan, when we served at the Cathedral of “St Nicholas-Do” in Tokyo, and visited the grave of St Nicholas of Japan. (It was very moving that the great ascetic was born in Smolensk guberniya, and he sowed the seeds of faith in distant Japan.) I think that not one icon has ever traveled so much throughout the world as has the Kursk-Root Icon. Its mission is to visit every place where Russians live. The icon visits not only Orthodox churches but hospitals and homes to visit the bed-ridden.
By Divine mercy, I have now visited Kursk and the Kursk-Root Hermitage of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God more than once. I cannot but tremble at the thought that this is the historic homeland of the icon, the caretaker of which I was appointed at the end of 2010, where according to tradition, in the year 1295, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the icon was miraculously discovered… If you were to ask me of my impressions of the monastery, I would note the following: every time I come here I rejoice that good monk’s labor here, their fervent prayers are lifted to Heaven. Some of the monks I still remember from my trips here as a deacon: as the cell-attendant of Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York of blessed memory, I accompanied him on his pilgrimages. Contact with the residents of the renowned Russian monastery gives me spiritual strength in the monastic life and helps me sense the sanctity of this place. During my visits to Kursk I try to celebrate Divine Liturgy on a daily basis if possible.
-During this visit, you were joined by His Grace Bishop Irenei of Orsk and Gaisk in performing all-night vigil at the Kursk-Root Hermitage, later at Zolotukhinsky Convent of St Alexei, Man of God. He flew in especially from Orenburg for the opportunity to pray before the miracle-working icon, which last year visited Orenburg Metropolitanate in the southern Urals. For VladyIrenenei, the visit of the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” and meeting you was a spiritually-edifying event.
In 2017, right after visiting the Kursk Diocese, the icon went to Orenburg. There, in the southern Urals, as is the case here, the historic homeland of the holy image, and in many other places in Russia, people come day and night in a constant stream to venerate Her, to pray before the image and ask the Mother of God for all that is needed in their souls. This I will never forget.