Korennaya Icon & Spring Church
The most famous Churches in the Kursk region are the Znamensky Monastery in Kursk and Korennaya Hermitage 30km from Kursk. At those times when Kursk and its region were ruined by the Tatars’ hordes and seemed that it would newer recover, it was very significant that on 8th of September of 1295, in 27 versts (old Russian measure of distance) from Kursk, on the Tuskar River bank there was found the Miracleworking Icon with a source of clean holy water as a promice of future freedom and national revival.
The news of the icon came to the Rylsk Prince - Vasily Shemiaka (15th century) that ordered to bring it to Rylsk. Crowds of people were watching the arrival of the icon, but the Prince refused to meet the icon at the very last moment. In answer to his action the Icon blinded him. Having repented of his action, Vasily Shemiaka prayed for mercy and recovered… To thank the icon for this miracle, the Prince built a Church dedicated to the holly Icon and The Nativity of the Holy Theotokos.
However, later the Icon disappeared in a strange way from the Church built in its honor, and appeared in the place it had been found. Each time when the Icon was taken to Rylsk, it would return to the place it had been found. Therefore, in Korennaya Pustyn (Russian word for Hermaitage), there was a chapel built in which the Icon was kept. In 1615, in honor of the Polish defeat in Kursk and to execute the promise there was a community of monks built and the original Monastery started. It included 2 wooden churches: of The Nativity of the Holy Theotokos and St. Mikhaila Malena. It was in 1618 when the Icon got the name "THE SIGN" and was taken to the newly built Church in the center of Kursk. In 1631, a strike of lightning caused the devastating fire that destroyed the Church but the Icon was safe and in 1634, the renewed Church was completely robbed by the Polish. In 1649, the Tsar of Russia Aleksey Mikhailovich ordered to build a stone Church named Znameniya Kurskoy Bogomateri (Bogomater means the Mother of God), and the Church got a new name – Znamenskaya (Znamenie means the Sign). In 1815, the walls of the Znamenskaya Church were broken because of the foundation weakness, and a year later there was founded a new Cathedral that was finished in 1826.
In the 18th century, Korennaya Pustyn was rebuilt of stone. From 1618, it was occasionally, and from 1726 to 1765, it was systematically that the Kursk Root Icon was taken from Znamensky Cathedral to Korennaya Pustyn for a week. There were the continuous disagreements between Znamensky Cathedarl and Korennaya Pustyn, whose property the icon had to be. Korennaya community of monks was under the Znamensky Cathdral ruling, but the solution was not found. In 1767, Synod banned bringing of the Icon to the Korennaya Pustyn any longer. But in 1792, the Sacred Procession was renewed in answer of the merchants’ requests.
The Sacred Procession promoted the Korennaya Fair development. In the order of Synod dated by the 15th of January of 1806, it was said that in agreement with the Emperor Alexander the First, the Kursk Root Icon "THE SIGN" had to be in Korennaya Hermitage from the 9th week after Paskha to the 12th of September and from that time the Sacred Procession was made regularly.
The Processions took their part in the Crimean War in 1689 and the Patriotic War in 1812. In 1919, the Icon appeared in Serbia, where it was until 1944, then it was brought to Munich and in 50s to the USA. Now, it is in New York, in one of the Churches belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. In 1989, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad handed over a copy of the Holly Icon as a gift to Korennaya Pustyn.
In March of 1989, the Church in Svoboda Village (that was used as dormatorium during soviet time), has been returned to the Orthodox Church. Its return was very significant since it was situated 800 [yards] away from the Spring which has been venerated by Orthodox believers since 1295... In the 1920's the Kursk Korennaya Monastery of The Sign [was]...abolished and in the 1960s the Spring was buried under the concrete but continued to seep through its cover. The former Korennaya Hermitage buildings were occupied by a technical school whose authorities tried but failed to restrict access to the spring.