The arch-shaped relief icon is a replica of the great nationwide shrine, Our Lady of Kazan.
The original miraculous icon, which was recreated afterwards thousands of times, was discovered in Kazan on 8 (21) in July 1579, 27 years after the city was conquered by Ivan the Terrible. At the time, there was a large fire that caused an increase in Muslim resistance to Christianity. Then, in order to strengthen the Orthodox faith, the Mother of God, doing Her will through the nine-year-old girl Matrona, revealed Her miraculous image amongst the ashes left from the conflagration. Soon, two blind men were miraculously healed by the icon in rapid succession. In the years that followed, it was noted that a significant number of those healed by Our Lady of Kazan suffered from various eye ailments. A convent was founded at the location in Kazan where the icon had been discovered.
Our Lady of Kazan played a huge role in the history of the Russian state. The Cossacks, under the leadership of Yermak Timofeyevich, conquered Siberia under Her patronage. Through Her intercession, Dmitry Pozharsky and his militia succeeded in liberating Moscow from Polish troops during the Times of Trouble. The icon served as an inspiration to the Russian army before the Battle of Poltava, and it was from Our Lady of Kazan that Field Marshal Kutuzov received the blessing to strive for victory against the French. During World War II the Blessed Virgin Mary offered heavenly assistance to the defenders of Leningrad and Stalingrad through Our Lady of Kazan.
Our Lady of Kazan is particularly revered in all Russian Orthodox families. The icon is often used to bless a young couple before their wedding, and is most commonly encountered in children’s bedrooms, where the Mother of God watches over the children as they sleep.
One of the most majestic cathedrals in Russia, the Kazan Cathedral, was built to honor the icon, which is the most reverred in the Northern Capital, and to serve as its repository.
At present, there are different opinions as to which icon is the actual one recovered in Kazan, and where it has been located since then. It was assumed that the icon may have been stored at the cathedral of the Kazan Monastery and disappeared without a trace in 1904. According to another opinion, the genuine Our Lady of Kazan was taken by Prince Pozharsky’s militia and remained afterwards in the church of Our Lady of Kazan in the Red Square in Moscow. Others believe that the genuine icon was transferred from Moscow to St. Petersburg in the beginning of the 18th century. Whichever the case may be, each of the three icons has served as a great source of gracious help from Our Lady.
The back of our small icon depicts the Holy Cross in Bloom and contains the initial words of the troparion to Our Lady of Kazan in Church Slavonic: Застyпнице ќсeрднаz, м™и гDа вhшнzгw! За всёхъ м0лиши сн7а твоегw2, хrтA бGа нaшего, и3 всBмъ твори1ши сп7сти1сz,.. (“O assiduous intercessor, Mother of the Lord Most High, pray for everyone to Christ, Your Son and our God, and seek for everyone to be saved…”)
The feast of this great nationwide shrine is celebrated on the day the icon was discovered 8 (21) July (1579) and on the day Moscow and Russia were delivered from the Poles, on 22 October (4 November) (1612).