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Chapter 9
Our Lady of Kazan, Fatima
and Soufanieh
UR LADY OF KAZAN, Fatima and Soufanieh, all
come together as they are one and the same Virgin
Mother. Since the Icon of Soufanieh is considered a replica version of
Our Lady of Kazan, this chapter gives a summary of the known history
of the Kazan Icon. We must say, however, that scholars debate different
explanations for its history which is not easy to track. In brief, since the
17th century, the Virgin Mary through the Icon of Kazan has been ven-
erated as the Savior or Protectress of Russia. After the decisive victory
of Peter the Great over the Swedish army, during which the Icon was
brandished as the flag of victory, a cathedral was built in honor of Our
Lady of Kazan in Moscow.
The cathedral in honor of Our Lady of Kazan was built on what
later became the Kremlin, known in Moscow as Red Square during the
Communist reign. The Icon was venerated in the Kazan Cathedral in
Moscow until 1721 when it was transferred to St. Petersburg, the new
capital then of Russia.
The cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in Moscow was without the
Icon for the past two centuries. Under Communism the cathedral was
destroyed in 1936. It was thought for years that the Communists had
destroyed the famous Icon of Kazan. The history of what happened
since the reign of Communism and its fall is interesting, and we give a
summary here.
There are reports from missionaries that after decades of Com-
munist repression the Catholic presence had been largely eliminated and
the Orthodox Church greatly crippled. The conversion of Russia, prom-
ised by Our Lady of Fatima, will doubtlessly be through the Russian
Orthodox Church. Part of the Fatima message is also for Christian
unity, so hopefully Our Lady will bring about a union of Orthodox and
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Catholics in Russia.
Pope John Paul II, known in many quarters as especially devoted to
Our Lady of Fatima, worked intensely for a reunion of Orthodox and
Catholics from the beginning of his administration. Not as well known
is the Pope’s devotion to Our Lady of Kazan.
Many millions of positive thinking Christians are continuing to
pray for Russia and make sacrifices. The Fatima Family Apostolate
financed the building of the first Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima in all of
Russia (dedicated October 11, 1998, with the Pope’s blessing). They also
continue to make the First Saturdays.
We explore here the amazing sign of the coming rebirth of faith in
Russia that has a history hundreds of years old. And this great sign is in
the possession of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican at least at the time of
the writing of this book. The sign I mean here is the Icon of Our Lady
of Kazan, one of Russia’s most venerated religious images.
George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
in Washington, D.C., was chosen to write the more than 900-page Wit-
ness to Hope
—the amazing life of Pope John Paul II—while spending
much time with the Pope. While at Castel Gondolfo he saw the Kazan
Icon resting on the altar of the Pope’s chapel. He saw it again at the
Vatican. He wrote: “My wife and friends were stunned by the priceless
diamond and ruby-encrusted frame which partially covers the Icon itself.”
It is interesting that the Icon of Soufanieh which has gained so
much attention in Damascus, and then throughout the world, consid-
ered to be a replica or at least one version of the famous Kazan Icon, is
an extremely inexpensive reproduction. The original Soufanieh image,
which was at the beginning of the Soufanieh phenomena, is in a plastic
frame, 2.4 × 3.2 inches. Nicolas, while traveling, bought ten small repro-
ductions of Our Lady of Kazan from the Alexander Nevsky Orthodox
Church in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was one of these, on rather thin paper,
which began to exude oil on November 27, 1982, and is still in the
shrine in the Soufanieh home today.
Would not this tell us that the value of an icon is not, from God’s
view, in diamonds and rubies which may decorate an icon? Christian
unity and peace will come, not from wealth and power of men, but from
humility and love in men and the power of the Holy Spirit to which
Christians become open in love.
We are reminded of how St. Faustina, apostle of divine mercy, cried
the first time she saw the painting of Jesus with the red and white rays.
It was so far from how beautiful Jesus had appeared to her. Jesus had
requested a painting of what she saw to be spread throughout the world
with the signature, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Jesus informed her that the
power or effectiveness of the image of divine mercy would not be in the
paints or colors. The power would come from the Holy Spirit working
in human hearts and the response in the hearts of those who gazed
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upon it.
With St. Faustina and the divine mercy image, however unworthy
the image from the reality, the power of God would still be present for
those who responded in faith and love. So with Soufanieh. “God chose
those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise; he singled
out the weak of this world to shame the strong. He chose the world’s low
born and despised, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing
those who were something, so that mankind can do no boasting before
God. God it is who has given you life in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:27-30).
Weigel has written: “The Pope (who once told me, ‘Russia is a big
part of the story’) burns to take one of Russia’s holiest images back
home, and in doing so, to illustrate Rome’s fraternal love for the largest
church of the Christian East. And no one who believes that Providence
acts in history will deny that the incredible journey of the Kazanskaya
[Icon] is, in a word, providential.
“Or, as John Paul himself said at Fatima, a year after he was shot in
his front yard, St. Peter’s Square, ‘In the designs of Providence there are
no mere coincidences.’”
The Fatima message, the famous Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, the
Pope and Christian unity —all are wondrously intertwined. For years,
especially during the 1970s, the Kazan Icon was kept in the Russian
chapel of Domus Pacis in Fatima. Readers should appreciate what the
Icon is about, its history, its destined future, for it will surely continue to
have a role in Russia’s religious history and the future relationships of the
Russian Orthodox Church with Roman Catholicism. Patriarch Alexis II
of Moscow is reported to be anxious for the return of the miraculous
Icon to Russia. There are reports that when returned a new church will
be built especially for the Icon in the city of Kazan itself, in the
monastery of the Theotokos.
George Weigel, whom I respect, has written, “Some will be a little
skeptical of the attempt to link the drama of the Kazanskaya to various
theories of the Fatima apparitions—the saga is remarkable enough in its
own right without further embellishment
.” True enough, but perhaps Wei-
gel does not know the Fatima connection in recent decades and how the
Icon got to the Pope. I doubt too he knows the Soufanieh connection.
Perhaps he does not know that Sr. Lucia has said that the Collegial
Consecration of Russia accomplished March 25, 1984, requested by Our
Lady of Fatima and the quest for Christian unity are joined, or that it
was largely Fatima devotees that redeemed the Icon of Kazan and kept
it in the Russian Chapel at Fatima for years and who finally gave it to
the Pope to some day deliver to Russia.
Our Lady of Fatima said “all bishops” were to make the consecra-
tion of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When the Pope for
March 25, 1984, invited the Orthodox bishops of the East to join the
Roman Catholic bishops of the West in the collegial consecration, and
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reportedly many Orthodox did—God accepted it. Pope John Paul II has
a small replica of Our Lady of Kazan in his limousine as he travels in
Rome, so important does he deem all this.
When revolution was taking place in Portugal (1974-1975), the
Icon was brought to the United States for a time and placed in safe-
keeping. The U.S. government had reportedly given up on Portugal,
thinking it would fall under Communist control and thus all western
Europe would go Communist. It appeared the atheistic Communism
was about to gain total control of the government in Portugal. Even on
the outside walls near the entrance of the Carmelite Monastery in
Coimbra, the residence of Sr. Lucia, the sole survivor of the Fatima
apparitions of 1917, I saw in 1974 where Communists had painted the
words: “Religion is the opium of the people.” The attempted revolution
in Portugal in 1974 was daily news on the big news networks.
I happened to be on the same plane that was bringing the Kazan
Icon from Portugal to the United States, although I did not know it at
the time. Later, when back in the United States, a priest who had been
entrusted with its transfer out of the country informed me that he had
brought it with him, by request, on that flight.
A chief authority at the International Shrine in Fatima told me later
it was unfortunate that some in the Fatima Apostolate in America made
the decision to take the Icon out of Fatima. It was done at the very time
revolution was threatening and Portugal was endangered by the Com-
munists. If there was ever a time when the miraculous Icon of Kazan, so
associated with Russia and liberty, should have remained in Fatima,
Portugal, it was at the very time it was removed without any authoriza-
tion from the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima. A brief history of the Icon
should inform us why. We must trust in Jesus and in Mary, not ourselves.
Our Lady of Kazan is Our Lady Protectress
The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is widely known as the “Liberatrix
and Protectress” of Holy Russia. It has been used as the standard of the
Russian army accompanying them in their struggles against invaders,
the Tartars, the Poles, the Swedes, and the French.
Our Lady of Kazan has been venerated in Russia for centuries and
even greeted by Russian troops as the Liberatrix of Russia. The Russian
Orthodox Church proclaimed two liturgical feast days in her honor, July
8 and October 22. In many Russian prayers the Mother of God is called
the “invincible general.” The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is one of the most
venerated Icons in Russia and is inseparable from its long Christian history.
The image is linked to the rich sources of Russia’s religious life. Events
involving the Kazan Icon during the 20th century are only now becom-
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ing widely known.
Our Lady of Kazan—Patroness of Russian Families
Our Lady of Kazan is the patroness of households in Russian fam-
ilies. Copies of the Icon are frequently given to young ladies before their
weddings. She is so much a part of Russian culture that even unbeliev-
ers often have had an Icon of Kazan in their home. The Icon has a spe-
cial spiritual significance and role in the history of Russia. Our Lady of
Kazan shows the way for the future of Russia.
The Fatima Family Apostolate has been promoting the Icon of
Soufanieh for two reasons: 1) as a reminder to pray for Christian Unity
for the total Church; 2) for families to have it in their homes to promote
love and unity in the family.
According to Marguerite Peeters, writing from Brussels for the
magazine, Inside the Vatican: “Throughout Russia, churches, monasteries
and cathedrals are dedicated to the Kazanskaya,” as it is called. “The
Moscow Patriarchate has declared 16 copies of the Icon to be miracu-
lous or venerable. Popular devotion proclaims more than 30 copies to be
miraculous. The copies from different periods are often covered with
gold, silver and precious stones, testifying to the deep veneration
Russians have for this Icon.”
Kazan is a city on the Volga River located some 500 miles east of
Moscow. The Tartars invaded Russia in the middle of the 13th century
and oppressed Russians for 300 years. The Tartars considered the city of
Kazan the capital of their principality. Then Czar Ivan IV the Terrible
in 1552 organized a crusade against the Tartars who were oppressing the
Orthodox. The Russians took over the city of Kazan. The Tartars began
to be instructed in the Orthodox faith. The city could freely exercise its
faith again. In gratitude Ivan the Terrible had a large basilica built in
honor of the Mother of God in Kazan. It was dedicated to the mystery
of the Annunciation. He had a cathedral built in Moscow in honor of
the Protection of the Mother of God—now known as the famous St.
Basil’s Basilica on Red Square.
The Moscow synod of bishops in 1555 elected the first bishop of
Kazan and had a Cathedral built there. The majority of Kazan’s popula-
tion, however, was still Moslem. When the second bishop of Kazan died
the Moslems revolted against the Christian faith. It was during this
struggle that half of the city was destroyed by fire in 1579. Moslems
claimed it was a punishment from God against Christians. The future of
Christianity in the city was in peril.
History of the Kazan Icon
A soldier whose home had been destroyed in the Kazan fire of 1579
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was planning to build a new house when his eight-year-old daughter,
Matrona, saw a vision in which the Blessed Mother on two occasions
told her to tell everyone that the Icon of Our Lady would be found in
the ground under the ruins of the burned house. The child was ignored
both times. In the third apparition Matrona saw the Icon itself “and
from within a great light glowed.” This time Matrona heard a voice
which told her, “If you do not announce my words to all then I will
appear in another place and a great calamity shall befall you.”
After the rejection of the message by the governor of the city of
Kazan and by the Archbishop Jeremiah, the mother, to satisfy the child,
and along with some neighbors, went to the place and started searching.
It was not until Matrona started digging herself that, in a very short
time, she uncovered the Holy Icon wrapped in old cloth and perfectly
preserved. “Though it was an old Icon, its paint glistened like new. It
seemed to be illuminated from within.”
The Icon was then taken in solemn procession from the place of exca-
vation to the Church of St. Nicholas, the nearest church. On the way two
men, Joseph and Nikita, who had been blind for years, had their sight
restored so that “the Holy Icon appeared to have wonder-working powers.”
It is thought that the Icon was hidden during the Tartar domina-
tion, when the Orthodox were obliged to hide their faith, but the origin
of the Icon still remains mysterious.
The event of the finding of the Icon took place on July 8, 1579. A
liturgical feast day was thus established on that date in commemoration
of the apparition of the Icon.
The pastor of the church was the priest Hermogen who was later to
become the Patriarch of Moscow and, still later, to exhort the people of
Russia during the “Time of Troubles” to drive out the invaders so that
Russia might be saved. Those exhortations of Hermogen inspired the
raising of an army in 1611 whose leadership, organization, and training
were entrusted to the prince, Pojarski.
The time of freedom was not yet at hand, for the Russian military
commanders quarreled among themselves. The violence of the Cossacks
and other militiamen knew no bounds. In the winter of 1611, the Icon
was being returned to Kazan. While it was enroute to Kazan, it stopped
at Yaroslavl where militiamen from Nizhni Novgoro, recruited by
Minim and led by Pojarski were located. Hearing about the Icon and the
many miracles which were wrought in connection with it, the militia-
men took the Icon with them, constantly paying it homage with prayers
for help. Many miracles were manifested.
Army troops marching from Kazan toward Moscow brought along
the sacred Icon. The forces of Prince Pojarski encountered impossible
obstacles near Moscow. The city must be taken. It was heavily reinforced
and guarded by fresh troops arriving near Moscow. The disorderly
Cossacks, instead of aiding the arriving troops, repelled them. There
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were few supplies or ammunition for the loyal forces. Under these cir-
cumstances, the morale of the troops ebbed low. Furthermore, autumn
came bringing with it unfavorable weather. Deciding, however, to make
a last effort to capture the city, depending no longer on their own
strength, but only on the protection of the Mother of God, on October
22, 1612, the troops gathered to pray in front of the Icon, and then were
successful in seizing the walls of the Kremlin, liberating Moscow. The
Lord heard the prayers for the Church and the Fatherland.
Subsequently Our Lady of Kazan was hailed by Russian troops as
the liberator of Russia. It is why the Orthodox church later proclaimed
October 22 a liturgical feastday.
Among the many devotional accounts of this victory among the
Russians is that within the city was a saintly hierarch, Arseny, who came
to Russia from Greece. He was taken prisoner and lived under severe
conditions of hunger and grief. Being a hierarch and a saintly man he
was close to God and was chosen to receive heavenly favors. During the
darkness of the night his cell was filled with light and he saw before him
St. Sergius of Radonezh.
“Arseny,” said the saint, “Our prayers have been heard. Through the
intercession of the Mother of God, the divine judgment on our father-
land has been changed to mercy. By morning Moscow will be in the
hands of the liberators and Russia saved.”
The word spread and the Orthodox militia were strengthened with
new courage. The enemy, in spite of their number, could no longer hold
their positions and the Kremlin was taken by the Russians.
The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan was placed by Prince Pojarski in the
Church of the Presentation of the Holy Virgin in Moscow until the time
when the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was built in Moscow (1630),
where the Icon was then enshrined.
Cathedral of Kazan in St. Petersburg
Much subsequent history follows involving the Icon of Kazan and
the people of Russia being spared from invasions. The Icon was trans-
ferred to various churches or copies made of it for various places.
The czar finally ordered the construction of a Cathedral of Kazan in
St. Petersburg on Nevsky Prospkt. (This cathedral is one-half block
from the Roman Catholic St. Catherine of Alexandria Church, which
contains the special wing for a Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima, built by
the Fatima Family Apostolate.) The St. Petersburg Cathedral of Kazan
was intended to be a Russian imitation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
and the chief church for all Russia. This cathedral was consecrated on
September 15, 1811, when the Icon was solemnly brought to the
Cathedral of Kazan in St. Petersburg on that day.
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The history of Russia has been frequently linked to their faith and
love for Our Lady of Kazan. She was invoked during the invasion by the
Poles at the beginning of the 17th century and also by the Swedes.
Patriarch Germogen supported a patriotic movement and urged the
Russians to put themselves under the protection of the Mother of God
with her title Our Lady of Kazan.
Prince Pojarski had the Cathedral of Kazan built on what is now
Red Square in Moscow. An Icon of Kazan was brought to the cathedral
in 1636. The Bolshevik Revolution that put Communism into Russia
(and the Soviet Union) for decades destroyed this cathedral. Mikhail
Gorbachev allowed a small church to be rebuilt on this spot—the first
permission granted under the Soviet regime for the building of a church.
Metropolitan Alexi blessed the cornerstone for this new Basilica of Our
Lady of Kazan on Red Square on November 6, 1990.
When the Napoleon forces invaded Russia in June, 1812, the Icon
of Kazan again was invoked as the Protectress of Russia. General
Kutuzov kept the Icon hidden under his cloak and on December 25,
1812 Russia was liberated from the French. The czar offered Our Lady
of Kazan in St. Petersburg the trophies of the defeated French.
The Kazan Icon then remained in the Cathedral of St. Petersburg
until the night of June 29, 1904, when all the treasures of the cathedral
were stolen, including the Icon. This was considered a national tragedy.
A copy put in its place also disappeared during the 1920s.
This same Cathedral of Kazan in St. Petersburg, when taken over
by the Communists in the early 20th century, became a museum for
atheism and headquarters to spread atheism throughout the entire
Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in St. Petersburg, Russia.
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nation of Russia, which covers 12 time zones.
Location of Kazan Icon Obscure after 1904
After its disappearance in 1904 the story of the Icon of Kazan is dif-
ficult to follow. But it is exactly after this date that the West and the
Fatima message enter into the picture. Different accounts are given on
how the Icon disappeared out of Russia and got to other countries. We
give here what appears to be a reliable account.
The Holy Icon of Our Lady of Kazan (now at the Vatican) is
thought to be the most ancient. Whether or not Prince Pojarski brought
the original Holy Icon of Kazan that was discovered by Matrona, or
whether he brought one of the two other Miraculous Icons of Kazan
cannot be stated for certain. (Note: one remained in Kazan and was
reportedly destroyed in 1904; one was enshrined in the Kazan Cathedral
which was patterned after the Vatican and built in St. Petersburg; and
the third was in Moscow).
Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the Holy Icon of
Kazan was confiscated from the Kazan Cathedral, and, along with other
religious art treasures, was sold into private hands. This was partly to
raise money for the Revolution and partly to remove the more impor-
tant symbols of religion in an effort to completely destroy religion and
faith among the peoples of Russia.
Purchased and taken to Poland, the Holy Icon remained there in
obscurity until 1935 when it was purchased by Mr. Norman Weisz, who
had examined it at the Moscow sale in 1919 but did not have sufficient
funds to buy it at that time. The Icon appeared at an auction in Poland
after the First World War. It is not known who put it up for sale or
bought it. About 1950 the Icon was detected on the wall of an English
castle. A Russian countess recognized it from the way the diamonds and
rubies were placed on the riza (silver or gold plaque partially covering
venerated icons in Russia).
How the Kazan Icon traveled to Fatima
The owner of Farleigh Castle in England was a Protestant. He had
an adopted daughter who was Catholic. When her foster father died, she
agreed to sell the Icon to the Orthodox Archbishop of San Francisco.
The Russian Church in the United States carried on a nationwide cam-
paign to raise one-million dollars for this purpose. They failed to raise
the money. The Icon was about to be sold to a museum because thou-
sands of dollars had been spent in its protection, with armed guards
accompanying it on the journeys through America in the effort to raise
a million dollars to redeem it.
The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, which was founded to carry
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out the conditions of Our Lady of Fatima for the conversion of Russia,
heard about the danger of the miraculous Icon of Kazan becoming a
museum piece. It was then that the leaders of the World Apostolate of
Fatima signed a contract to redeem the Icon. Reports indicate that it was
purchased in 1970 for three million dollars and presented to Pope John
Paul II in 1993.
In 1964-65, arrangements were made for an exhibit of the Russian
Orthodox and Greek Catholic Church of America at the New York
World’s Fair. Along with Michelangelo’s Pietà which had been brought
from St. Peter’s Basilica for the Holy See pavilion at the World’s Fair—
these two were the most venerated religious works on display.
Byzantine Chapel built in Fatima
A Byzantine-style chapel was built in Fatima not far from the
Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima in the Cova da Iria. On
July 21, 1970, the Holy Icon was brought in procession to the Chapel of
the Dormition in Fatima by Bishop John Venancio of the diocese of
Leiria-Fatima and Bishop Andrea Katkoff, Apostolic Visitator of
Russian Catholics. Bishop Katkoff celebrated a solemn pontifical litur-
gy in the chapel. Then for several years the Icon was kept in a bank vault
in Portugal. Without security it was feared communists would attempt
to steal the Icon if kept in Fatima’s Russian chapel.
Finally Pavel Bliznetsov, a former Soviet air force officer who had
escaped Russia, went to Rome, and was ordained a Catholic priest, was
asked by Cardinal Tisserant to become the first chaplain of the Byzan-
tine rite in the Russian Chapel at Fatima where the Icon could be
housed in security. Archpriest John Mowatt, who offered Mass in the
Byzantine rite, became the second chaplain. For years the Kazan Icon
was thus venerated in Fatima within the Russian chapel of Domus Pacis
of the World Apostolate of Fatima. During many youth pilgrimages I
conducted over the years (1970s into 1990s) the Icon was venerated by
the youth as we stayed at Domus Pacis in all the early years of the youth
pilgrimages. By now these youth are mature adults raising Catholic fam-
ilies of their own. Also perhaps 200 or more went on to the seminary on
the way to the priesthood. Many are now ordained. Many young ladies
became religious, a considerable number became professed as contem-
plative Carmelites to my knowledge.
Each year Fr. Mowatt would offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for our
“Youth for Fatima” pilgrims in the Russian Chapel of Domus Pacis. My
intention was to expose our Catholic youth to the beautiful Byzantine
Eastern Catholic rite in union with Rome and which is identical to the
Russian Orthodox rite. I had founded a “Youth for Fatima” apostolate
which conducted 13-day youth pilgrimages to Fatima twice each sum-
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mer for about 20 years; one for young men, another for young ladies.
This apostolate grew into what is now known as the Fatima Family
Apostolate
. This total family apostolate resulted from an encouragement
of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in early 1985. It received subse-
quent endorsement of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1989
when its Prefect, Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, came to its national FFA
Congress.
How the Kazan Icon Passed to Pope John Paul II
It was Jose Correa, a Fatima devotee and later director of informa-
tion for the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need in Koenigstein,
Germany, who proposed giving the Icon to John Paul II so the Pope
himself could give it back to Russia.
I became acquainted with Jose Correa at Fatima while conducting
youth pilgrimages. People could not help notice a priest with, at times,
70 youth. One time there were 150 teenagers and young adults in
Fatima—for close to two weeks at a time. They would go out of their
way to discover what was behind these prayerful young pilgrims so well
disciplined. I remember repeatedly hearing from adult pilgrims from
Ireland, “We could never get a group from Ireland to do what you are
doing with American Catholic youth.”
I learned that Jose, who approached me at Fatima, is like a family
member to the Santos family of Sr. Lucia in Portugal. He has thus been
able to visit her over the years when in Portugal. He was reportedly
adopted as a child by Santos family members who had moved to Brazil.
He was able to provide the radio transmitter for Boris Yeltsin in an
upper room of the Kremlin when the coup against Gorbachev was
underway in 1991. Russian people were asked by radio to come to the
Kremlin in protest. They did. They came with icons, various images of
Mary, while, readers will remember, Yeltsin stood atop a jeep explaining
to people that the attempt was to re-establish hard Communism while
Gorbachev was held prisoner. At that time Jose was the managing direc-
tor of the Catholic Radio and Television Network headquartered in
Brussels, Belgium. He had radio equipment stored in a warehouse in
Moscow, awaiting installation as restrictions against religion were easing
up. (See October-December 1992 Messenger for more details.)
He had a Russian language program, Blagovest (“Good News,” a
calling to prayer). They used to transmit through Radio Veritas in the
Philippines for the Asian areas of the country. Starting July 5, 1992, his
Catholic Radio Television Network was able to broadcast every Sunday
at 2:30 p.m. over Ostankino’s Radio One (formerly Radio Moscow) with
a network of over 350 local radio stations throughout Russia.
The board of the World Apostolate of Fatima decided unanimous-
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ly to accept the proposal to give the Icon to the Holy Father so that he
would give it back to the Russian people. The bishop of Leiria-Fatima
concurred. When the Holy Father came to Fatima for the first time,
May 13, 1982, to thank Our Lady for sparing his life in the May 13,
1981, assassination attempt, he venerated the Icon of Kazan.
When Pope John Paul II came to Fatima on May 13, 1991, for the
second time, tenth anniversary of the attempt on his life, the Icon was
by then already in his apartment at the Vatican. Previously, representa-
tives of the Church with Vatican connections, showed up at Domus
Pacis with authorized papers and quietly the Icon was taken to Rome.
Authenticity of the Kazan Icon with Pope John Paul II
Tass, Russian national news agency, reported in 2001 that during the
past two years Russian experts from the city of Kazan had been study-
ing evidence on the authenticity of the Icon now in the apartment of
Pope John Paul II. The result is that the findings of Western experts are
being confirmed by Russian experts that the Icon is the original one.
Is this the original Icon found by Matrona in 1579 or an early 16th
or 17th century copy that was given special veneration over other copies?
What experts agree to is that this Icon is the one that was stolen from
the Cathedral of Kazan in St. Petersburg in 1904. It is thus considered
to be the most venerated Kazanskaya Icon.
Conclusions of Expert Historians
The conclusion of art historians of both the West and Russia is as
follows. The original, which dates from the time before the Tartar inva-
sion, was lost in a fire, and three copies were made at the end of the 16th
century. One of the copies went to the library of the Patriarchate of
Moscow and is now in the patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Theophany
in Moscow. Another was in the imperial public library. A third one was
in the library of the Rumiantev museum.
According to Russian experts, one of these two would have remained
in Moscow until 1710 when it was transferred to St. Petersburg, and was
stolen in 1904. According to this account, the Holy Father’s Icon would
be a late 16th century copy of the original.
But the World Apostolate of Fatima rejects this account. It claims
experts dated the Icon to be from the 13th century. In this case, the Icon at
the Vatican would be the original miraculous Icon of Kazan.
American and
English experts at the time it was purchased had authenticated the Icon
dating it to the 13th century. They said it was painted on wood in the tra-
ditional Greek-Byzantine style. Constantinople was its probable place of
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origin. X-ray examination confirmed the perfect preservation of the col-
ors. The gold-plated silver riza of the Icon was dated as the 17th centu-
ry. This Fatima Apostolate says it is encrusted with more than 1,000 dia-
monds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and pearls given primarily by Ivan the
Terrible and Catherine the Great. It was the privilege of the author of
this book at one time to hold the Kazan Icon close to his heart with prop-
er permission. It is indeed encrusted with precious jewels.
The Vatican had requested a second in-depth study of the Icon
before it was brought to Rome from Fatima. Three experts came to
Fatima. They concluded the authenticity of the Icon. Their findings
were then confidentially given to the Holy Father.
Some time in the 1980s, Luigi Scalfaro, heading the Fatima
Apostolate in Italy, discussed the matter with the Holy Father. The two
agreed to transfer the Icon from Fatima to Rome. Several times Pope
John Paul II has shown the Icon to Orthodox bishops and Russian dig-
nitaries who visited him. The Pope is burning with the desire to take one
of Russia’s holiest images back home.
In June 2000, President Vladimir Putin visited Pope John Paul II.
Jose Correa was then given almost four minutes on Russia’s national
evening television news (RTR) to explain what had happened to the
Icon of Kazan since 1904. He said that the original was now in the
Pope’s apartment at the Vatican. He suggested that when Orthodox offi-
cials would invite the Holy Father to come to Russia, he would bring the
Icon back to the Russian people. Listeners were moved to tears.
There is growing interest in Russia over the message of Fatima. “In
the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will con-
secrate Russia to me, and it will be converted, and a period of peace will
be granted to the world.” For Russian Orthodox, conversion means
abandoning atheism, sins of the past and a return to Jesus Christ and
their own Orthodox roots. The final and complete conversion has yet to
come. Thus the Fatima message appeals to millions of Russians and
while Orthodox Patriarchs give no official position on Fatima they have
not objected to the message.
When the primary and official International Pilgrim Virgin was taken
for about a year by Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz from Fatima to
travel throughout Russia a few years ago, Orthodox, including bishops,
also came out to venerate it. The Archbishop returned this International
Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the sanctuary in Fatima, Portugal, on July
12, 1997.
On the occasion of returning the statue from Russia to Fatima,
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said, “. . . The Fatima prophecy concern-
ing the conversion of Russia is being fulfilled. However, conversion is
a long process. It is not so much an external event as an inner state of
being. Conversion comes about where there is interior freedom based
on truth. . . . The pilgrimage that has now come to an end was a very
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great grace for our Church and for our society. As represented in the
Fatima statue, Mary visited a land which on the one hand had only
recently been regarded as a stronghold of atheism and on the other was
a land of martyrs.
“I do not think there have been any other pilgrimages like it in the
world. The statue arrived in St. Petersburg (at St. Catherine of Alex-
andria Church where the Fatima Chapel is presently being constructed)
on the 79th anniversary of the October Revolution (a few minutes’ walk
from the storming of the Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks and one-half
block from the Orthodox Cathedral of Kazan). Everywhere the statue
was received with enthusiasm and with tears of joy because it was the
representation of her who had foretold the conversion of Russia. . . .”
The Fatima Family Apostolate (FFA) thus considers it to have been
one of its greatest honors, when Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, living in
Moscow, and then Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Rite Catholic
Church for all European Russia, requested the FFA to finance the build-
ing of Russia’s first Fatima Shrine.
Pope John Paul II, Our Lady’s Pope, has worked hard to bring a
restoration of unity of the Orthodox with the Roman Catholic Church.
He would find it a perfect crowning to his long pontificate if he could
be invited by the Orthodox to Russia, where the world’s largest
Orthodox community lives. There he would present them with the Icon
of Our Lady of Kazan. What great significance and Marian affection
this could be toward Christian unity.
As our Lord and our Lady slowly accomplish their goal of triumph
and Christian unity we remember the words spoken at Fatima in 1917.
“If my requests are not heard, error will spread from an atheist Russia
throughout the entire world, fermenting further wars, the good will be
persecuted, and the Holy Father will suffer much. However, if my
requests are heard, Russia will be converted and an era of peace will be
granted to the world. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and it will be converted,
and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
Soufanieh is to the East what Fatima is to the West. The Virgin
Mother Mary is the Mother of the Church. Jesus desires his Church to
be one, for such he established the Church. His Mother Mary desires
unity of all in her Son, Jesus Christ. Mary is working for unity through
her images of Kazan and Soufanieh.
The need for prayers for unity between Orthodox and Catholics is
especially seen from time to time in news reports of relations between the
Vatican and the Moscow patriarchate. They seem to go up and down.
Developments could well be far beyond what we give here by the time this
book appears. The need for prayer and fasting is important for unity.
A Russian Orthodox leader in February, 2002 asked the Interpol
police agency to seize the beloved Icon from the papal apartments.
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Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk at that time charged that the Icon
of Our Lady of Kazan was “stolen” from the Russian Orthodox Church.
He asked the international police force to recover it “by whatever means
are necessary.”
The Icon, dating from the 13th century, has been prized by the
Orthodox faithful for generations. When Russia was swept by the Com-
munist Revolution, the Icon was eventually acquired by Orthodox in
America, who later sold it to Catholics as explained earlier. In 1991, after
several transfers, the Icon came into the possession of Pope John Paul II.
In November, 2001, Pope John Paul indicated that he was prepared
to return the Icon to the Russian Orthodox Church. But that prospect,
like all other relations between the Vatican and Moscow, was placed “on
hold” when the Russian Orthodox hierarchy pulled back from ecumeni-
cal talks after the Vatican announced February 11, 2002, that it was
transforming into dioceses the four Catholic apostolic administrations
set up in the 1990s to minister to Catholics in Russia.
The Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate held that since Russia was an
Orthodox country Rome should not be establishing dioceses there. Pro-
testing the Vatican’s establishment of the four dioceses in Russia, the
Russian Orthodox Church asked the Vatican’s top ecumenist to cancel
his planned February, 2002 visit to Moscow.
Rome held that Catholicism has had a long presence in Russia and
these dioceses were necessary to serve the Catholic people in that vast
land. A Vatican official said the Orthodox statements simply underscore
how important continuing contacts are. Although he cancelled his trip
as requested, Cardinal Kasper sent a letter to Russian Orthodox officials
“confirming his willingness to go at any time to clarify the situation.”
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, who heads the Mother of God Archdi-
ocese of Moscow, said: “Catholic dioceses were established in Russia in
the 14th century. Before 1917, before the Bolshevik Revolution, there
were two bishops’ Sees, one in St. Petersburg and one in Saratov; the
metropolitan See was in the capital of the Russian Empire (at that time,
St. Petersburg).”
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, said: “It is
not right that our Russian Orthodox brothers say they were surprised.
For some time we have been discussing with them this reorganization
planned by the Pope to offer better religious assistance to Catholics in
that immense country.” The same Cardinal also dismissed concerns that
the Vatican action would delay the trip Pope John Paul II has hoped to
make to Russia. “This plan has not been pushed off; it was not even
near,” the Cardinal said.
Metropolitan Kirill, in his complaint to Interpol, said that the
Russian Orthodox patriarchate would have preferred to settle the ques-
tion of the Icon’s ownership quietly, relying on fraternal cooperation
between the two churches. But he complained, “The Vatican did not
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have that attitude in mind when they erected four dioceses in Russia.”
It is most unfortunate that such disagreements arise. The love and
unity of spirit fostered by Soufanieh will hopefully become a guiding
light to all authorities as well as all the faithful. The real interest and
effort should be for a united Christendom according to the will of Jesus
Christ.
We know what heaven can accomplish quickly, even when human
resources deem it impossible. This was witnessed in the fall of
Communism in 1989 after the accomplishment of Our Lady’s request
for the Collegial Consecration of the World and of Russia. Heaven can
act quickly for Christian Unity between Orthodox and Catholics as well
when Christians unite in sincere prayer.
One does not find the call for CHRISTIAN UNITY so direct and
explicit in the messages of Fatima as one does in the messages of
Soufanieh. But it is in the Fatima messages. Sr. Lucia has said that the
Collegial Consecration has always included the call for Christian Unity.
It is implicit. The message of the Christian solidarity of the Mystical
Body of Christ (the Church) is in the message of Fatima as a whole.
Already on July 3, 1917, Our Lady said: “I shall come to ask for the
consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion
of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia
will be converted and there will be peace. . . .”
On June 13, 1929, Mary kept the promise to come again. This is
when Sr. Lucia had the vision representing the Blessed Trinity and she
concluded the report this way:
“I understood that it was the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity
which was shown to me, and I received lights about this Mystery which
I am not permitted to reveal.
“Our Lady then said to me:
“‘The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father (the
Pope), in union with all the bishops of the world, to make the Conse-
cration of Russia to my Heart, promising to save it by this means.’”
Note: “the Holy Father (the Pope) and all the bishops of the world.”
Now Orthodox are true bishops. The Catholic Church recognizes that
the apostolic chain of ordination is valid for both the Orthodox and
Catholic bishops. The first two times (1942 and 1952) that Pope Pius
XII attempted the requested Consecration, he acted without any other
bishops. In 1982, Pope John Paul II conducted a consecration right at
Fatima on May 13 but there was a deficiency because not all the bish-
ops had been informed in time.
Only after March 25, 1984, did Sr. Lucia say that the Lord had
accepted the Collegial Consecration—and for the Act to be offered on
March 25, 1984, in a letter that the Pope had sent previously in
December 1983, inviting both Catholic and Orthodox bishops to join
him. Many Orthodox bishops did so. Our Lady had said it was to be
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made by “all the bishops of the world.” Then things began to change
regarding religious freedom in Russia and the Soviet Union.
The call for Christian unity is explicit in the Soufanieh messages.
Approved Marian messages are ongoing. Years ago, Sr. Lucia said that
Christian unity was always part of the Collegial Consecration. She has
Chapter 9. Our Lady of Kazan, Fatima and Soufanieh
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Muslim ladies light a candle before the miraculous Icon. Muslim tradition
considers Mary most blessed and prominent of women.
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said that, until her death, she will pray for CHRISTIAN UNITY.
C
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Fox. Light from the East—Miracles of Our Lady of Soufanieh
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Our Lady of Soufanieh Icon
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