From November 4-7, a momentous event took place in Costa Rica in Central America. For the first time, the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God – visited the southernmost parish of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad, the Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Coronado.
On Saturday, November 4, an airplane carrying the country’s most honored "Guest" – the Kursk Root Icon – landed at San Jose International Airport, accompanied by diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov, and Protodeacon Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ).
The holy image was met at the airport by Archpriest Daniel McKenzie (dean of the diocesan Caribbean Mission), Consul of the Russian Federation Egor Blagodatsky, and rector of Our Lady of Vladimir Church Priest George Kaplanov, accompanied by parishioners.
After settling into the hotel, a small press conference was held, during which Bishop Nicholas spoke about the history of the recently arrived wonderworking icon, while press conference participants thanked the delegates for the opportunity to venerate this ancient image.
Prior to the All-Night Vigil, parishioners greeted the icon and guests with the peal of bells. After the reading of the Gospel, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon and, welcoming the worshippers, noted that the visit of the Kursk Root Icon to Costa Rica is a great miracle for every faithful soul.
On Sunday, November 5, during the triumphal Divine Liturgy, parish acolyte Panteleimon Guzman was tonsured a reader at the hours, while parish rector Fr. George, with the blessing of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, was awarded the right to wear the nabedrennik and purple skufia at the Little Entrance.
The church was filled with worshippers: coming to the church to venerate the holy image and honor the Mother of God were not only parishioners of Our Lady of Vladimir, but also other Orthodox Christians. Many that day communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Also in church were neighbors – local Latin American Catholics who wished to pray before the wonderworking icon.
After the Prayer Behind the Ambo, a set liturgical vessels was presented to the church in memory of these radiant days, as well as a copy of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Those who had labored with particular diligence on behalf of the parish and in organizing and running the reception of the icon in Costa Rica were presented diocesan gramotas. The parish rector presented Bishop Nicholas with a copy of the "Savior of Zvenigorod," and presented all of the guests with copies of the Vladimir Mother of God.
After Liturgy, a luncheon was served for all of the worshippers, and the children were treated to inflatable playgrounds.
That evening, a festal reception was held at the residence of the Russian Federation ambassador in honor of the visitation of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, during which Bishop Nicholas presented a copy of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God to the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in Costa Rica, Alexander K. Dogadin, and presented a diocesan gramota to Consul Blagodatsky.
On Monday, November 6, molebens and akathists were served in the church throughout the day, during which were commemorated all of the parishioners, compatriots, and their family and friends. The people came to sing the akathist hymns and venerate the wonderworking icon.
Early Tuesday morning, November 7, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God departed Central America.
This momentous occasion will forever remain in the hearts of the people touched by this great sacred icon.
Video report about the Icon's visit available here.