John Paul II's Prayer Before the Icon of Kazan

VATICAN CITY — Here is the prayer John Paul II composed for the celebration of the Word, before the return in late August of the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow, Alexy II. The prayer was read in Russian.

Glorious Mother of Jesus, who “go before the people of God on the paths of faith, love and union with Christ” (see “Lumen Gentium,” 63), blessed be you! All generations call you blessed, “for he who is mighty has done great things in you, and holy is his name” (see Luke 1:48-49).

Be blessed and honored, O Mother, in your icon of Kazan, in which for centuries you have been surrounded by the veneration and love of the Orthodox faithful, having become the protectress and witness of the particular works of God in the history of the Russian people, very dear to us all.

Divine Providence, which has the strength to overcome evil and to draw good even from the evil works of men, has made your holy icon, disappeared in distant times, reappear in the Shrine of Fatima, in Portugal. Subsequently, by the will of persons devoted to you, it was kept in the house of the Successor of Peter.

Mother of the Orthodox people, the presence in Rome of your holy image of Kazan, speaks to us of a profound unity between East and West, which endures in time despite the historical divisions and the errors of men. We now raise our prayer to you with special intensity, O Virgin, while we take leave of this moving image.

We will accompany you with our hearts along the road that takes you back to holy Russia.

Receive the praise and honor rendered to you by the people of God in Rome.

O blessed among all women, venerating your icon in this city marked by the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Bishop of Rome unites himself spiritually to his brother in the episcopal ministry, who presides as patriarch over the Russian Orthodox Church. And he asks you, Holy Mother, to intercede so as to hasten the time of full unity between the East and West, of full communion among all Christians.

O glorious Virgin, Our Lady, Advocate, and Consoler, reconcile us with your Son, commend us to your Son, present us to your Son! Amen.