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Icon of St Alexis, the Man of God, weeps

During the morning service on 5 December, an icon of St Alexis began to weep in the village church of Ustianichka near Alapaevsk in the Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Church. Drops of myrrh appeared on the halo of the icon and then ran down the saint’s face.

‘The icon is giving off a very strong and unusual perfume, which can only be the scent of myrrh’, said Fr Alexis, the rector of Holy Trinity church in the village. He added: ‘The icon of St Alexis began to weep myrrh on the eve of the repose of the Patriarch Alexis, warning us of his irreplaceable loss. Our father has died…’.

A parishioner was the first to notice the small streams of myrrh. Seeing a stream of liquid coming out of the icon, she tried to wipe the drops away, but the ‘tears’ reappeared. The parishioner immediately told the priest.

Fr Alexis has said that the icon is continuing to give off myrrh. ‘When an icon weeps, it foretells something bad. The Lord warns us of some disaster and wants to comfort us in the faith. The whole Orthodox world, all the saints, are grieving for His Holiness.

Four days before his repose, the Estonian-born Patriarch, whose surname was Ridiger (Rüdiger), had celebrated in the Munich Cathedral of the German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Thus, the Russian journalist, Andrei Zolotov, has called His Holiness ‘the last Russian European’. The day before his repose, His Holiness had celebrated a service of supplication before the relics of St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (+ 1925).

Observers may also note that 5 December was not only the morning of the repose of His Holiness but also the day on which it was announced that the human remains found in the region of Ekaterinburg have definitively been recognised as those of the martyred Tsar Nicholas II and his Family. Among the many possible successors to Patriarch Alexis, two candidates have been put forward - one is called Tikhon, another is Archbishop Vikenty of Ekaterinburg.

Whatever the Lord may decide, there is no doubt that the events of the last four days have a mystical significance, which we shall only come to understand with time.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips,
Colchester, England

25 November/8 December
St Clement, Pope of Rome

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