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Medvedev visits Cathedral of the Sign in Kursk

KURSK, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited on Thursday the Cathedral of the Sign in the city of Kursk some 300 miles south of Moscow where a miracle-working icon of the Mother of God was recently brought.

Medvedev spoke to clergy from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia led by Metropolitan Hilarion of New York and Eastern America accompanying the icon.

The Kursk Root Icon of Our Lady of the Sign was brought to Russia from the United States on September 12 and was kept in central Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral before its departure for Kursk on September 23. In early October it will be returned to the U.S.

Over 150,000 believers came to pray before the icon while it was in Moscow, and about 30,000 people greeted the icon when it was brought to Kursk.

The Kursk Root icon dates back to the 13th century. A hunter from the city of Rylsk near Kursk came across a small icon lying face down on a root of a tree in the year 1295. He picked it up, and a spring of pure water gushed from the place it lay upon. The hunter built a chapel on the site.

Numerous miracles were later attributed to the icon. Legend has it that once late in the 14th century, when Tartars came to raid the Kursk Region and cut the icon in two, the two halves grew together, leaving a small trace of the break.

In 1920 the Kursk Root icon left Russia as many faithful fled the country following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution that saw the start of a large-scale persecution of Christians. The icon traveled from place to place, including Serbia and Germany, and was finally taken to the United States.

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