‘Weeping’ statue on display at Southbridge church


SOUTHBRIDGE — The Holy Myrrh Streaming Icon of St. Anna — a statue of Jesus Christ’s grandmother that many believe weeps, and has been associated with some purported miracles — will visit St. Michael’s Orthodox Christian Church this weekend.

“It’s an honor that the icon will be here,” said the Rev. Peter Preble, the church’s pastor.

The wooden icon will be displayed during the Great Vespers service at 6 p.m. today and during the Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Rev. Preble said the statue will remain on exhibition after both services for as long as the public wishes to venerate it.

The icon was commissioned in 1998 by the Rev. Athanasy Mastalsky, an Orthodox priest from Philadelphia who became deeply devoted to St. Anna after the saint was believed to have helped save his arm following a childhood accident.

Rev. Preble explained that Rev. Mastalsky, at the age of 7, fell off a two-story building and fractured his right arm.

Doctors considered amputating the limb after they could find no pulse.

According to Rev. Preble, Rev. Mastalsky’s mother, a devout Roman Catholic, prayed to St. Anna and applied some oil to her son’s arm that was obtained from a nearby shrine dedicated to the saint.

A pulse was soon detected, and, following some surgeries, the arm was completely healed.

The icon was fashioned at Mount of Olives Convent in Jerusalem, where Rev. Mastalsky served for a time during the early 1980s, and was blessed at the Sepulchre of Our Lord in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem.

Rev. Mastalsky brought the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow in Philadelphia, where he ministered as rector.

On May 9, 2004, a Mother’s Day, a parishioner reported that the icon seemed to be “perspiring.”

Liquid accumulations were noticed on the cuff of the icon’s left hand and on her left shoulder veil, among other places.

Church officials believe the icon emits myrrh, a red resin that is fragrant and slightly oily.

Rev. Preble said the icon, which is now in a case, continues to “stream” the substance from time to time.

It was moved to St. Tikhon Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan, Pa., where Rev. Mastalsky now lives.

St. Michael’s is at 16 Romanian Ave.