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Pope hands Kazan icon to delegation for return to Russia

Pope John Paul II has handed over the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to a Vatican delegation that will take it to the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow tomorrow.

Zenit reports that the Holy Father presided over a Liturgy of the Word in the Paul VI Hall before an audience of 7000, marking a solemn farewell and act of veneration of the icon, which had been kept in the Papal Apartment.

The icon, considered the most venerated by Russian Orthodox faithful, was taken out of their country in the 1920s.

After long stays in various places, the image was recovered by a Catholic group. The icon was kept in the Chapel of Fatima, in Portugal, until about 10 years ago, when a group gave it to John Paul II.

While the choir of the Pontifical Russian College in Rome sang the Marian litany, the icon, covered in a golden mantle, was carried in procession by a deacon through the central aisle of Paul VI Hall. As it passed by, the faithful were able to touch the venerated image of the Virgin.

John Paul II wore a red cape and looked well. In a clear voice, he asked Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to return the icon "to our brother Patriarch Alexy II, and through him to the holy Russian Orthodox Church and all the Russian people."

The Pope composed a prayer to the Mother of God of Kazan, read in Russian, in which he implored the Virgin to "return in the midst of brothers and sisters of holy Russia as a messenger of communion and peace."

During the homily, delivered before taking leave of the icon, the Bishop of Rome said that "from the beginning, I have desired that this holy icon return to the soil of Russia."

For over 10 years, "it has been by my side and accompanied me with a maternal gaze in my daily service to the Church," he added.

Pope Gives Icon of Kazan to Delegation for Its Return to Russia (Zenit 25/8/04)

Varied Papal Delegation Headed to Moscow (Zenit 25/8/04)
"The handover of the icon of Kazan is an historic event" ( 26/8/04)
Triple Message Linked to Return of Icon (Zenit 25/8/04)
John Paul II Composes a Farewell Prayer for Icon (Zenit 25/8/04)
Papal Homily at Celebration of the Word for Icon of Kazan (Zenit 25/8/04)
John Paul II's Prayer Before the Icon of Kazan (Zenit 25/8/04)
Pope's sacred gift to Moscow (The London Times/The Australian 27/8/04)
Pope returns icon to Russia, eyes reconciliation (Daily Russia Journal 26/8/04)
Vatican official says in East copies of original icons are venerated (Catholic News Service 25/8/04)
Pope warns youth against idolatry, New Age (Catholic World News 26/8/04)
At audience, Pope pays final homage to Mother of God of Kazan icon (Catholic News Service 25/8/04)
Papal condolence for Russian plane-crash victims (Catholic World News 26/8/04)
Pope Warns Youth Against Dabbling In New Age Fads (AFP/Turkish Press 26/8/04)
Pope tells young people to worship God to be free ( 26/8/04)

27 Aug 2004