Tag Archives: Miracles

On Miracles That God Performs Through Icons

Icons are windows to heaven. We have them in our churches, we have them in our homes, and perhaps in our car/locker/workspace/elsewhere as well. They are in these places as visual reminders of Truth. Icons remind us of the power of God at work, either through the written images of Christ Himself or of those gone before us who have followed Him completely and became saints. They help us to better understand the scriptures and to better connect with the person/people written on them. Icons draw us to God by virtue of their beauty, the stories of faithfulness they represent, the Scriptures they unveil. It is a miracle that something so simple as a prayerfully-written icon can do so much to help us on our journey toward Him.

Occasionally, God chooses to move beyond that sense of “being drawn,” and to work other miracles through them. The purpose of this blog post is to help each of us to learn about some of the icons He is using in this way (or has recently used in this way), and to read the stories of miracles wrought through them. It is our hope that this post will be encouraging and help each of us to be aware of how God is at work through icons. (These stories will also encourage our children when we share the stories with them. Children are naturally full of wonder, and will benefit from knowing these amazing ways in which God is at work through holy icons. So, please share the stories that your children will benefit from hearing so they can be encouraged, as well!)

Here are a few examples of miracle-working icons and their stories, as well as information related to miracle-working icons:

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What would you do if some of the icons in your prayer corner miraculously began streaming myrrh? Read this account by Subdeacon Nectarios himself, of what happened in his home. In the account, you’ll read about two streaming icons (each with different-smelling myrrh), a cat, a “doubting Thomas” who ends up with a mouthful of “proof,” and a few of the miracles that the miraculous myrrh have wrought. Glory to God! http://www.orthodoxhawaii.org/icons.html

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The Kardiotissa Icon of the Mother of God, at St. George Orthodox Church in Taylor, Pennsylvania, has been exuding myrrh ever since it was anointed with the myrrh of the Hawaiian Iveron icon in October of 2011. Many, many lives have been changed as a result. Read some of the miracles that have happened, as accounted in this homily: http://www.schwebster.org/sermons/2014-sermons/the-miracles-and-wonders-of-god-the-crying-icon-of-taylor-pa

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“Over the past ten years there have been many miracles; some I’ve heard about and some I haven’t. There have been many physical healings, external, and there have also been many spiritual, inner healings. Through this Icon many of the faithful have experienced radical transformations in their lives. It’s as if people become liberated from the ‘old man’ and ardently strive towards God.  When the Icon is present in various churches, monasteries and homes, one senses a renewal of love for the Mother of God; almost immediately many people approach for confession, spiritually reborn through a feeling of repentance.  I’d like to say that the Mother of God helps our believers sense their sinfulness before Her Son, Jesus Christ.”

Read this and more of the story and miracles of the copy of the Iveron icon of the Mother of God (the same one whose copy was sent to Hawaii and began myrrh streaming there, and when that one in turn visited the Kardiotissa icon in Pennsylvania it began exuding myrrh as well), which was brought to Canada from Mt. Athos by a Chilean convert to Orthodoxy here:  http://www.roca.org/OA/120/120k.htm

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“One can go on for a very long time listing the different holy Icons of the Ever-Virgin Mary and Theotokos and all the wonderful countless miracles of our Panagia. It is, however, important for all Orthodox Christian believers to always seek the holy intercessions of the Mother of God and to turn to Her for aid, healing, comfort and salvation.” Read some of the miracles in this article: http://saintandrewgoc.org/home/2014/8/25/the-miraculous-icon-of-panagia-portraitissa-the-keeper-of-th.html. Then, spend some time praying and asking the Theotokos to pray for you and your loved ones – and the whole world!

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Watch this 8-minute video that shows miracle after miracle, mostly related to icons, which God has granted through His Holy Orthodox Church. Set to parts of the Vespers service chanted by Eikona, this video could be a wonder-filled way to end a day! (We recommend that you watch it before showing it to your children, so you know what they will see and can be prepared to answer related questions.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-AOO903CZA

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Throughout history, icons of the Mother of God have worked miracles. This article shares the commemoration days of many icons of the Theotokos, along with some of the stories of miracles attributed to those icons, set throughout history. These stories are not as recent as some of the above, but they are still miracles and well worth learning about! To read about an icon of the Theotokos and/or a miracle attributed to the icon, click on the month, then which of the days of that month you’d like to read about: https://oca.org/saints/icons-mother-of-god

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“Venerating a miracle is also a way of acknowledging the importance of its context. A weeping icon is amazing, but it’s obviously not meant to distract attention away from the liturgical, sacramental, and doctrinal life of the Church. If anything, a miracle should amplify the importance of Church practices and teaching, for the God who causes the miracle is also the God who established these as markers of his ‘new and everlasting covenant’ with mankind.” Read more about responding to miracles wrought through icons in this article:  http://myocn.net/miracle-greece-weeping-icon-mean/

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Learning About the Saints: St. Luke of Crimea

On June 11, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates a (fairly recent) saint, St. Luke of Crimea. St. Luke lived a faithful Christian life, characterized by kindness and compassion in the midst of difficulties and oppression. In an increasingly materialistic and self-centered society, St. Luke’s example is ever more important to study and emulate. It is important that we as parents learn about this saint, learn from him, and pass on his story and his example to our children.

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St. Luke was born in 1877, in Russia, to a Catholic father and an Orthodox mother. He was baptized with the name “Valentine.” Even though his parents were of differing beliefs, they raised their children to love and serve God by serving others. Although they were not rich, his mother often took food to prisoners and his father (a pharmacist) would prepare medicine for the sick. Being raised in an environment like this had a powerful effect on Valentine.

When Valentine grew up, he love to paint and considered becoming a painter, but decided instead to become a doctor so that he could help more poor people. He overcame his dislike for studying the sciences, and became a promising physician. However, instead of going on to be a professor, as he could have done, he chose instead to serve the peasants as a doctor. When he realized how many of the poor were struggling with blindness, he began studying ophthalmology in Kiev, and caring for patients in his family’s home. He would not accept pay from his patients. While he studied the sciences, he also studied the scriptures.

When war began between Russia and Japan, Valentine traveled by train for a month to the city of Chita, so that he could help to care for the wounded. It was there that he met his future wife, Anna, who was working as a nurse. The two of them married, and God granted them three sons and a daughter. After the war, he worked in different villages and towns, trying to help as many people as he could. During this time, he decided to begin writing a book about the new treatments he was discovering, and so he began to write.

When Valentine was 40, the Bolshevik Revolution began. Life became difficult for Christians in that part of the world. Valentine and his family moved to Tashkent, where he became the surgeon in one of the biggest hospitals in the country. It was a dangerous time for everyone: even the hospital itself had bullet holes, and Valentine often risked his life while he was working to save the lives of others. During this time in Tashkent, Anna became ill with tuberculosis, and passed away. Their children were aged 6 to 12. Valentine prayed that God would provide for the children’s needs, and help him to raise them. God answered by sending a nurse named Sofia, who loved Valentine’s children so much that she became a second mother to them (even raising them and sending them to school in later years, when Valentine was unable to care for them).

Valentine’s deep faith was exhibited by his keeping an icon of the Theotokos in his surgery room. He prayed before every operation, marking the patient with an iodine cross at the location where the operation was to be done. At one point, when the Soviets took control of Tashkent, they removed the icon from Valentine’s surgery. He refused to continue to work without having the icon of the Theotokos present. Within a very short time, one of the military leaders’ wife was in serious condition and needed an operation. They requested that Valentine do it, as he was well known because of the success of his operating skills. He refused to operate on the woman because the icon was gone. Before too long, the icon was put back in its place on the wall of the surgery, and Valentine was able to perform the surgery and successfully save the woman’s life, with the help of the Theotokos.

Soon thereafter, Valentine was urged to become a priest. Although it was a dangerous time to be related in any way to the Church, he agreed, and in 1921, he was ordained to the priesthood. He continued to work as a doctor (considered “the best surgeon in Russia”), while also directing a hospital and teaching anatomy. He dressed as a priest in all of his work, which irritated the authorities in Tashkent.In 1923, Fr. Valentine was secretly ordained a bishop, and was given the name of Luke. Within a month, he was exiled for his role in the Church. Over the next 11 years, Bishop Luke was banished many times, often to Siberia and other difficult places to live, because of his faith. No matter where he was sent, the people were glad to see him. He would serve them as a bishop in whatever spaces they could manage to meet: whether on a riverbank or in a small cottage, he would lead services and encourage people to follow God. He also would help as a doctor whenever possible, healing people’s bodies as well as their souls.One of the most difficult things for Bishop Luke was being so far from his children during this time. They wrote letters to each other, and Bishop Luke prayed for them intensely. God healed the children when they were ill, even though their doctor father was not around, simply through Bishop Luke’s prayers. In the years after these initial exiles, God brought other children into Bishop Luke’s life, as well, for whom he cared as though they were his own. All the young people under his care greatly benefited from their interaction with the bishop, and (among other things) he taught them, “The most important thing in life is to always do good. Even if you cannot do much to help others, strive to do whatever small benefaction you can do.”This teaching was evident time and again in Bishop Luke’s later years. Whether giving his coat to a needy prisoner while himself imprisoned, or working day and night despite his age during World War 2, or serving on Sundays and feast days at a church an hour and a half’s walk over slippery roads away, he did everything that he could to help others. Even at the age of 70, when he was transferred to Simferopol in Crimea, he still wanted to serve others.

There was only one church left in all of Crimea when (by then) Archbishop Luke arrived. There was much famine and poverty, as well. Despite these immense obstacles, Archbishop Luke helped the people by increasing the number of churches to more than 60.

At age 74, Archbishop Luke went completely blind. However, he was able to continue serving. God’s guidance, as well as his years of precision as a surgeon, made him able to be so precise in his service that others who didn’t know he was blind could not tell that he was. Despite this new challenge of blindness, Archbishop Luke continued to serve sick people by praying for them. (For example, a young girl named Galina, who had a brain tumor, was healed by his prayers. She later went on to become a doctor to help others.)

After he became blind, Archbishop Luke’s granddaughter Vera came to help him. She would cook a big pot of food every day in their apartment. The poor, children, and elderly would come to the apartment, looking for the food. Although he ate only once a day, Archbishop Luke would ask each evening if there had been enough for the others who had come for the other meals. He would not allow Vera to purchase new clothes for him. Instead, he always asked her to mend his old ones because “there are many poor people around.” His concern was never for himself, but for others, to the day that he fell asleep in the Lord.

On June 11, 1961, Archbishop Luke departed this life. He was 84 years old, and had blessed the lives of many people in those 84 years. But even departing this life has not stopped him from helping those in need. He continues to bless people who ask for his prayers. Here are two examples: there was a boy whose hip bone developed a disease, whose parents took him to venerate the relics of St. Luke and ask for his prayers. St. Luke visited the boy in the night, blew on the leg, and it was healed. Recently, another boy, a pianist, had fingers cut off when an iron door slammed shut on them. He went to St. Luke’s tomb and asked St. Luke for help. Within days, the fingers grew back (even with nails!), and he is able to play the piano again (better with the healed hand than the uninjured one)!

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Through the prayers of Saint Luke of Crimea, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us!