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When in Fatima one thing I learned is the present location of the Icon of Kazan - See April Newsletter of 1999. My interest in this Icon goes back many years when I found out that the Icon of Soufanieh in Damascus is a western copy of the Icon of Kazan. [The Miracle of Damascus ] The Icon of Kazan is the most sacred of all relics in the Russian World and was smuggled out of Russia before the communists could destroy it along with so much else that they destroyed. It remained in Fatima for many years. I now know that the Holy Father has it and plans to use it to bring about Unity with the Russian Patriarch.

The Holy Father will travel to Damascus to work with the many separated Churches there and then travel to Russia with the Icon. The Nuncio of Damascus, Syria, Archbishop Causero, stated that there was no initiative for the Holy Father to meet with Mirna. Archbishop Causero however indicated that he has met Mirna on several occasions, and has nothing put praise for her Apostolate. He said she came across as a simple, pleasant, balanced person who appeared to have no desire to want personal fame.

In addition, the archbishop said he is friendly with several good priests who are convinced of the genuiness of Mirna's ministry. He was interested to know about the connection with Kazan, and says he will be having further discussion with the priests who are favorable to Mirna.

During Good Friday the archbishop may take the opportunity to visit Mirna's home to witness the stigmata, which should take place this year (since the Western and Eastern Churches will have the same Easter date for the first time since her last stigmata) just before the Pope's visit to Damascus. The archbishop said that Damascus was an important place for the goal of Church unity since there are quite a number of Catholic-Orthodox initiatives in the city.

It is sad that the message of Our Lady of Soufanieh is almost unknown in the world because of being drowned out by false apparitions. If it had become known, the Holy Father's dream of unity may already have taken place. As Our Lady of Soufanieh said to Mirna,

"The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth is the Church. Those who divided it have sinned. Those who are happy with these divisions have also sinned."

Compare that with Medjugorje, which states that all religions are God's religions, even Moslems. How sad that we were unable to make Our Lady of Soufanieh's message known, but perhaps the Holy Father, using the Icon of Kazan, will bring about what we could not.

It is not only Our Lady of Soufanieh that has been harmed by false apparitions. Tre Fontane, Our Lady of Nicaragua, Our Lady of Akita, and even Fatima have been harmed.

Note: Vladimir Zhirinovski, vice president of the Russian parliament and leader of the far-right Democratic Liberal Party, met in February with the Metropolitan Archbishop of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Kiril Gundjaev, president of the patriarchate's Department for External Relations, and discussed the Pope's visit to Ukraine and the current Orthodox schism in that country. Zhirinovski proposed the organization of "propaganda trains" which would cross Ukraine to persuade the Orthodox population to remain under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate, instead of obeying the Orthodox Church that has proclaimed itself autocephalous.

History of the Icon of Kazan

In 1579, a nine-year-old girl by the name of Matrona, whose parents' house burned down during the 1579 fire in Kazan, saw in a dream the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and heard a voice commanding her to retrieve a holy Icon hidden in the ashes of the burned house. The holy Icon was discovered wrapped in an old cloth under the stove, where it was buried, most likely during the rule of the Tartars when Christians were forced to conceal their faith. The holy Icon was triumphantly transported to the nearest church, the Church of St. Nicholas, and later to the Cathedral of the Annunciation, where it received renown for curing the blind. A copy was made of the Icon and sent to the tsar, Ivan the Terrible. In honor of its arrival, a special feast day was established on the 21st of July.

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A special church dedicated to the Icon was built in Kazan in 1679, but the Icon had been kept in Moscow since the victory over the Poles and a copy was installed in the new cathedral of Kazan. In 1821 the original Icon of Our Lady of Kazan moved again, this time to St. Petersburg where it was installed in the new Kazan Cathedral on Nevskii prospect in the heart of the city. By this time the Icon had become extremely popular and there were nine separate miracle working copies of the Icon around the country.

Known as "the Liberatrix & Protectress of Holy Mother Russia", it was used in all the crisis of Russian Liberty up to and including the invasion of Napoleon -- whose defeat was directly attributed by the Russian people to Our Lady of Kazan.

By the middle of the 19th century the original ikon was encrusted in diamonds, massive emeralds and a gold cover. When the Communists took over Russia in 1917, they almost immediately focused their attention on the Icon of Kazan as an expression of the "soul" of the Russian people. The great Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in Petrograd (now Leningrad) was made into an atheist museum and the official center of militant atheism in the world. Its original design was to look like Saint Peter's Cathedrial in Rome. This was the last home of the Icon of Kazan before it went to Fatima.

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In 1918 the Icon was seized by the new Soviet Government and transported to Moscow. It vanished enroute and it turned up in an "auction of precious objects" in Poland after the First World War, and a rich Englishman in England bought it. After his death it had to be sold to pay for the estate taxes. Orthodox Christians of the western world began to raise money to "redeem the Icon"-- but twice thieves absconded with the funds and the Icon was about to be put up for general auction when the Blue Army of Our Lady in Washington, New Jersey stepped in and made the commitment to redeem it for the people of Russia.

Now, we pray, is the time for Our Lady of Fatima to bring about the unity of the
Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches using the Icon of Kazan preserved in Fatima all these many years. The next few months will be interesting.