Myrrh-Streaming Icons of the Theotokos in Pennsylvania

(Photographs are not permitted of the icons themselves.)

Before I talk about my experience in venerating these icons, let me give their history:

The story begins with the myrrh-streaming icon in Hawaii, a print-copy of the Montreal myrrh-streaming Iveron icon of the Theotokos. It was in the house of Reader Nectarios when it began to smell of roses, then began streaming myrrh in 2007. (Follow the link for a full story written by Reader Nectarios.) This myrrh-streaming icon was the source of many healings. In 2008 it was officially recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and was given a blessing to travel to other parishes. Reader Nectarios was given the guardianship of the icon during its travels.

In the fall of 2011 it was traveling to Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. On October 15th it visited St. George Carpatho-Russian Church in Taylor, PA. The next day it traveled to Holy Protection Monastery in White Haven, PA. Reader Nectarios gave each church they visited a copy of the icon. The copy of the icon given to the parish of St. George was anointed with myrrh and touched to the myrrh-streaming icon.

The next day Fr. Mark Leasure at St. George noticed a fragrance in the church and saw some misting on the icon where it had been anointed. Read here for the story. It’s unbelievable. And, as you will read, there were now two myrrh-streaming icons.

While Father was visiting Holy Protection the first week of November, he was with Fr. Mark Andrews, the chaplain, when Fr. Mark was told that the icon (he only heard about one) in Taylor had started exuding myrrh. The bishop had not been there to verify it yet so they were not publicizing it. I was sorry that Father could not go venerate the icon, but understood. I wished I might venerate them myself but this was so unlikely I didn’t spend more than a moment thinking about it.

When I found I was going to be spending a week at Holy Protection Father reminded me of the presence of the icon (I still only knew about one) so close to the monastery (about 45 minutes). I was to fly, not drive, so I wouldn’t be able to drive myself up there. Again, I considered that the likelihood of venerating the icon was so small as to not be worth thinking about.

A few days into my stay I met a woman called Eleni who asked if I had been to venerate the icons (this is how I found out there were two). She hadn’t either because things kept happening to prevent her. She proposed that I drive (she is anxious in a car) her and possibly some other people up to Taylor in her car so we could venerate them. I asked Fr. Mark for a blessing to do this and was immediately told to go. As it turned out I drove myself, Eleni, one of the nuns and the nun’s parents from Romania to Taylor immediately following Liturgy on Sunday. Three men from Toronto who were visiting the monastery drove in another car with Eleni’s husband. [note: I have only just now made the connection that that Sunday was the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women…]

Upon entering the church I was instantly overwhelmed with the smell of myrrh. For those who have not smelled it, it smells very intensely like roses. If you filled an entire room full of the best roses, it might smell a little like that. The icons were both at the front of the church in wooden cases with glass covers. There was an area at the base of each case filled with cotton balls to catch the myrrh. I couldn’t even approach the icons at first. When I did, I could see the the icon on the right, (the Kardiotissa Theotokos (Tender Heart) made by the nuns at Holy Protection and given to Fr. Mark on his elevation to protopresbyter – see earlier link for story) was entirely covered by sheets of myrrh. There was a mist of myrrh even on the glass covering the icon. Later, when I touched the case of the icon as I was praying I noticed to my surprise that even the wood of the case was exuding myrrh. Fr. Mark took the icon out of the case and held it up, one lower corner down, so that myrrh would collect and drip off into the hands of the faithful. He went from one person to the next. When I held my hands out to catch the myrrh I started to cry and I was afraid my hands were shaking too much to catch the myrrh. I anointed myself with the drop that fell into my hands. He also took cotton balls and gently wiped them across the icon then put them into small plastic bags for us to take with us. I made sure I had some to take home.

The original icon on the left wasn’t exuding as much myrrh as the one on the right but it was still there. I venerated this icon as well as the other.

Presvytera Beverly was there and told us about some of the experiences they had had. She said that during Lent the fragrance changed and during Holy Week both icons all but dried up. They started exuding myrrh again beginning with Holy Saturday Liturgy. There is a large granite cross between the church and the rectory and while there was no visible myrrh on the cross, it smelled intensely of myrrh as well. I noticed the fragrance when I exited the church but hadn’t realized that it was coming from the cross since I was so far away from it. I thought the fragrance was simply coming from the cotton I held. Other pilgrims went over to the cross and verified that the smell of myrrh was very intense.

As we left, I found it hard to believe what I had just seen and experienced. There seems to be no holding place in one’s mind for such a thing – it can best be experienced by the soul. When I left the monastery Fr. Mark (Andrews) gave me a small bag with cotton soaked with myrrh from the myrrh-streaming icons of St. Anna, the Hawaii icon and also the icons in Taylor. I carefully placed it in my smallest carry-on bag with the other cotton ball I had received. Every time I opened the bag the smell of myrrh was overwhelming. I wonder what the people on the plane thought.

We will hopefully be doing an akathist to the Mother of God in the next week or so and Father may anoint everyone with the myrrh following that.

17 thoughts on “Myrrh-Streaming Icons of the Theotokos in Pennsylvania

  1. I've read the posts and know that your experience was even more than you can write–thank you so much for sharing-I like the inside story of “canning” honey–fascinating-
    Mom

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  2. My husband went to visit a solitary monk last weekend, and came home with a bag of myrrh-soaked cotton from another copy of the Montreal icon. The monk told my husband that the wooden case that the icon is kept in is the case that originally held the Montreal icon. Apparently, Metr. Vitaly had this copy of the icon made for himself and put it in the original case, and had a new case made for the original icon. Before he died, he gave the myrrh-streaming copy and wooden case to this monk. He told my husband that sometimes the myrrh has little fragrance, but sometimes a lot. Last weekend, there was a lot, and there is definitely a beautiful fragrance from the balls of cotton my husband brought home, even through the plastic, though not as strong as to fill up a room. We had not made the connection with the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women.

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  3. Thank you for linking to my humble write-up! I never expected that. Unfortunately, the link is now broken (our parish only archives bulletins for a limited time due to space constraints). Let me know if you'd like an e-copy, and I'll try to make one available again. I was able unexpectedly to venerate the icons at our diocesan Sobor last month, and the icons are still streaming heavily at the two-year point. When Fr. Mark (Leisure) was asked to recount some stories, he responded, “Where do I start?” He remains deeply humbled by the whole experience.

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  4. Luke: I am sorry I didn't realize the link was broken. I fully understand space constraints in archiving bulletins! Certainly I would greatly appreciate anything you an provide me. We still have the cotton with myrrh and anoint ourselves with it as needed. It still smells of roses. I haven't yet, but I plan to have Father anoint our own little Rose (Catherine Rose, born 4 days ago) on the day of her naming prayers. When our family went to visit the monastery last fall, we were *all* able to go and venerate the icons – such a blessing for all of us.

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  5. I had a similar experience with the Iveron Icon. Father John Stavropoulos was a priest at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Ocean City, Maryland, when the Iveron Icon paid a visit. I live in Columbus, Ohio, and Father sent me a paper icon with a Q-tip of myrrh in a bag. When I received it, the icon had a layer of myrrh covering it. It was streaming and continue to stream lightly for several months. My son from Charlotte, NC, came for a visit at Christmas with his new baby twins, a girl and a boy. The little girl was born with three holes in her heart. When I told my son about the icon, he asked to see it. He proceeded to put some of the myrrh on his baby daughter and pray for her to be healed. At the next visit with the cardiologist, the doctor came into the room after the examination, with great joy and happiness to announce that the two major holes had completely healed up. My granddaughter is now three years old and all three holes have healed up. The icon streamed so much that it completely wore the image off the paper. Two weeks ago, I was privileged to see the streaming icons from Taylor, PA., when they came to Columbus, Ohio. God is good.

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  6. Aloha from Hawaii: I flew from Hawaii for 6 weeks to care for my 90-year old Dad who fell and broke his hip. I had the pleasure to be invited to Taylor, PA to experience great joy of the Icon with a saintly woman named Jane. When I opened the from door of the church, the smell of roses was all that I could smell and I began to weep. The feeling that I received from this was that I was walking on holy ground….the peacefulness overwhelmed me and my worries were washed away. I was totally in the power of the Lord as I felt carried. I met Father Chris there from Steelton who explained the Holy Spirit was there with us all. I felt such love for Father Chris and his message. I took home a blessed Icon that Father Chris put oil upon and placed my cotton balls too to catch the myrrh-streaming icons. When returning home, I annointed my father, placed the Icon on the mantel next to my mother's ashes, gave my dear friend a cotton ball that smelled like roses, and the best blessing was at 4:45am, on the day that I flew back to Hawaii, I blessed my son and his girlfriend at the mantle with my mother. I placed the sign of the cross onto their foreheads as they both bowed their heads and received this great blessing. That was the best day of my entire life to bless my son and his girlfriend. I was so honored to do that and so gracious to give them this special blessing. I know they will be protected and loved by GOD through their journey of their lives. Thank you so much for making me a messenger and for a Mother's prayer to be answered for her son and his partner. I love you Lord.

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  7. Thanks for sharing. The streaming icon from Taylor was visiting Souderton, PA, and my wife and kids went to venerate it. However, I was with my son on a boyscout trip, so I was unable to attend. When I returned from the trip, my family told me about their amazing experience, including the myrrh dripping into my youngest son's hand. They also had prayer cards with the Myrrh on it. Both my son's hands and the cards smelled heavenly, even though it had been two days since the experience. The next Sunday, I was the lector in church, and I had just said the Prayer of the Faithful. When I returned to the pew, I had an overpowering sense of the same fragrance. I thought it was someone's perfume, and I wondered where they would have such a perfume that smelled like those heavenly roses, but it disappeared just as quickly as I smelled it. When I asked my wife if she smelled it during mass, she said she did not. I cannot explain this scent happening, since it was obviously not perfume because of the strong scent that just rapidly vanished.

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  8. I was blessed to see and experience this tonight at St Georges church in Springfield Mass. What a joy and delight…Father Mark and all others were amazing…THANK YOU FOR Making the trip and sharing the Miracle.

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