Many questions arise when a Myrrh-Streaming Icon is scheduled to arrive at your parish. First, one has to ask what does it mean to be Myrrh-Bearing? Then, why is she coming to "your" church? There are also those who wonder about how this can happen. Others, question where did she come from, when does it happen and why?
What do I know about this Icon? She is St. Anna, some call her Ann or Anne. I also know she is the grandmother of Jesus, the mother of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. As I know how much my grandchildren love me, I know that she must be a very powerful intercessor at the feet of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I have been told that many claim healings and have had "special prayers" answered.
Many will remember that in a neighboring town, there is a shrine dedicated to her, where upon entering, one can see things left behind, like notes and canes, crutches and pictures where miracles have been known to have happened, by St. Anna's intercession.
What I do know about this particular Icon is that she once was in Jerusalem, completed in 1998, having been at the Mt. of Olives Convent, and that she was blessed in the church of the Holy Sepulcher, or the Holiest Church known, (where the rock hewn tomb of Christ is located), in the Jerusalem Church of the Ressurection.
She was brought to the United States, after her completion, in 1998, where she was noticed to have been "sweating" (which implies that she began to exude or excrete sensible moisture or perspire) and in May 2004, wept for three continuous years. Droplets of Myrrh have been contained, after flowing into cotton balls in which the myrrh freely flowed, streaming down. It is said that the scent is so strong, that she does not even have to be weeping or bearing "myrrh" for one to become filled with the sustaining aroma. It is said she weeps during fervent prayer at times.
St. Anna, is known as an Ambassador who represents "hope." Currently, she resides at St. Tikhon Monastery, which is located in PA, having been brought there by Fr. Athanasy when he retired.
Why is she coming to St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church on February 21 and 22? We will find out. But we know that as a loving grandmother will, she is coming with intentions. She is on a mission! She is coming to very small town, in the state of Massachusetts, to a very small community, where many have neither heard the name Southbridge nor, would find it easy to locate our very small and somewhat "obscure" parish church. Much like Bethlehem, hidden in a cave, was our Lord and Savior Jesus born in Bethlehem, in secret. Miracles are not "unknown" or foreign to us Orthodox, but infact, they are "commonplace." You don't hear about it. Its like "Orthodoxy, our best kept secret." We accept the unknown in quiet humility and in thanksgiving. I understand that there is an investigation and process in all these things which I am unsure of in it's complexity. There are others that I have seen, like the one called "Quick to Hear," an Icon of the Blessed and Ever Virgin Mary, which was at a church years ago, in Willimantic, CT. There was also one that I read about, in the eighties, in Chicago, IL.
It is said that on occasion, St. Anna begins to produce Myrrh-Streaming tears, which can be accumulated into containers, "at will". This is a mystery, one, that no one can explain. Some say that it means that a blessing is coming your way. Others say, she is coming to warn. If you are a skeptic, make your own determination. We embrase your right to question. Come and see! Sometimes, seeing is believing.
I will be praying for my church, and my family, hoping to bond with this beautiful saint who shares my namesake. Lord knows, that we need all the help we can get. We are certain that she is coming with great purpose! The wooden Icon, written of St. Anna will be placed on a venerating stand after a procession, in which those who attend, will petition and extend their love, bidding her welcome and favor.
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