Negotiations Underway for Pope to Return Icon of Kazan to Russia

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican confirmed that negotiations are under way to make possible a papal trip to Russia to return the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Russian Orthodox Church.



On May 4, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls mentioned the possibility that the Pope might make a stopover in the city of Kazan -- capital of the autonomous Russian Republic of Tatarstan, 500 miles east of Moscow -- on his way to Mongolia, the final destination of his trip, which might take place this summer.

"A dialogue is underway to see if it is possible to make this trip," Cardinal Angelo Sodano said today in an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

"The image of the Virgin of Kazan is impressive. I often see it when I go to the Holy Father's office: it is, precisely, in front of the desk of the Pope, who venerates it with particular devotion," he added.

"Mary is Mother of the whole Church and, therefore, also of Russia. It is beautiful to think that she will be the one who will make possible the Pope's meeting with the Russian land. As I was saying, the dialogue is still underway. We'll see."

The icon, to which Orthodox faithful attribute miraculous powers, left Russia in unknown circumstances during communist times. It was purchased from an English nobleman by 'The Blue Army,' a group connected to Fatima, and was then donated to the Pontiff so he might returned it.