On Thursday, September 28, a press conference was held at Orenburg Theological Seminary to announce the arrival of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" in Orenburg, Russia. His Eminence Benjamin, Metropolitan of Orenburg & Saraktash, met with journalists.
With the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Kyrill, and by decision of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the main holy icon of the Russian Diaspora, which is housed in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, was to visit the Orenburg region for the first time.
"A great holy icon has arrived in Orenburg. The faithful pray mostly for the healing of spirit and body before this ancient icon," said His Eminence. "Thanks to the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign, a great many miracles have occurred, including the healing in 1767 of a nine-year-old boy named Prochorus, the future Venerable Seraphim of Sarov."
On Monday, October 2, the day of the Kursk Root Icon’s arrival in Orenburg, Metropolitan Benjamin celebrated a nighttime Divine Liturgy at the city’s St. Nicholas Cathedral. He was joined by His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan; His Grace Irenæus, Bishop of Orsk & Gay; His Grace Alexius, Bishop of Buzuluk & Sorochinsk; and other diocesan clergymen.
Singing was the choir of Orenburg Theological Seminary under the direction of Priest Alexander Romashkov.
Archpriest Alexander Kutsov delivered the sermon, saying, in part: "The Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God ‘of the Sign’ appeared long ago, and survived many tribulations together with the Russian people. And this image always helped people live and follow the path to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Mother of God helped one of the greatest of our saints, Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, when he was but a boy. But the Most Holy Lady Theotokos helps not only the select few of God, but the greatest sinners of our Fatherland, as well. She is called the Mother of all Christians for good reason. Everything she asks for of her beloved Son, He fulfills. We must all approach the Mother of God with filial love, asking her intercession and her aid in rearing our children, in overcoming obstacles, in attaining the Kingdom of Heaven."
The cathedral was filled in these days with round-the-clock prayers: the daily cycle of services was supplemented by nightly Liturgies. Clergy performed constant molebens with akathists to the Mother of God before the icon, and read commemoration slips submitted by the faithful.
The wonderworking icon remained at St. Nicholas Cathedral until Monday, October 9, when it departed for New York City.