The Kazan icon of the Mother of God is particularly worshipped by the Orthodox for its extraordinary wonder working power. Therefore the small icon reverse has a prayer whereby we ask the Most Holy Mother of God to protect us against misfortunes and disasters, against evil and cruelty of the world.
The Mother of God Herself gave the icon to Russia on the threshold of the trials and tribulations of the Times of Distemper (1604-1613), and made it a symbol of the country revival.
The great wonder working icon appeared miraculously at charred ruins of Kazan in 1579. The newly found icon was taken to nearest church where it was accepted by the dean, the Russian Patriarch and priest-martyr to be St. Hermogenes. Fifteen years after in 1594 St. Hermogenes having already been the Metropolitan of Kazan wrote a legend of sacred events that he had evidenced and participated, and named it “A Story and Wonders of Appearance of the Holy and Glorious image the Most-Pure Mother of God That Occurred in the city of Kazan”. With extreme exactness he described the numerous facts of miraculous healing due to the image by the prayers of believers. The same year St. Hermogenes also wrote the text of a service to the wonder working image wherein he penetrated mentally the peculiar predestination of the icon.
The Kazan icon became the sign of the greatest victories in the history of Russia.
On April 13, 1605 the Tsar Boris Godunov died suddenly in Moscow. Dummy Demetrius – the protégé of Polish nobility and of the Jesuits Order – mounted the Moscow throne. The Central and the Southern Russia were under the Poles’ sway; the North including Novgorod were occupied by the Swedes who took an advantage of distemper. Russia as an independent state started vanishing from the map of the world. Robbery gangs roamed around the country, murdered and plundered. Exhausted people were totally unhopeful. In those terrible years it was the Church that organized liberation war in Russia. The Patriarch St. Hermogenes blessed people for assembling volunteer corps and driving thieves and conquerors out of the country. The poles imprisoned the Patriarch. They tried to intimidate him into calling back his charters of permit whereby he released Russian people from the oath to the Polish Prince, and gave his blessing to national liberation struggle. Having failed to subdue the inflexible spirit of the Elder they famished him to death. At the call of the Patriarch patriot detachments started assembling all over the country; they moved to Nizhny Novgorod to arms of K. Minin and D. Pozharsky. The Kazan squad was first to come. They carried the copy of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God. Since then the icon had become a shroud for the Russian volunteer corps, the symbol of Russia liberation and revival as a novel strong state.
The Kazan icon became the protector of Russia. Peter I prayed before it at the threshold of the Battle of Poltava; M. Kutuzov solicited for its benediction when leaving for the war against Napoleon.
But disturbing dramatic periods, significant turning points happen not only in the history of states. Everyone has hard times of life when you seem be at the end of your rope; when your strength is draining away. Then confidence in the Most Holy Mother of God together with the prayer to Her Kazan image make wonders. A correct decision is found al of a sudden; the tight situation is solved; fatal disease clears up of its own accord. A prayer to the Kazan icon helps to restore one’s family; to find a reliable partner in life; to save children from depraving power of sin. That is why the Russians have been applying to this wonder working image for several centuries at the trials and tribulations time.
The icon observance was established both on July 21 (8), the day of being found; and on November 4 (October 22), the day of Moscow liberation.