After a terrible fire that had destroyed a big part of Kazan, Virgin Mary appeared in a dream of a common girl named Matrona Onuchina. The Mother of God showed her a place at the fire site, where her image was supposed to be. Nobody believed the girl’s story the first time, nor did they believe it the second time, but when Our Lady appeared for the third time Matrona found an icon at exactly the place she had pointed at, at a depth of two arshins (about a meter and a half) in the ground!
In the same year 1579 Ivan IV the Terrible ordered to open the Bogoroditsky (Holy Virgin) Nunnery. At first Matrona became its first nun, later she became Mother Superior. And almost at once the icon delivered its first miracle: two blind men recovered their sight on their way to the Kremlin – their names were Iosif and Nikita. After the miraculous appearance Russia was saved from enemies several times and thousands of people were healed of numerous diseases.
The icon was dressed in a golden casing and plating, decorated with 475 diamonds, lots of pearls and 1100 other gems. In 1767 Catherine II laid a diamond crown onto the image – which was why the icon was subsequently harmed. In 1904 a thief called Chaykin stole it from the cathedral of the Kazan Monastery. During the investigation he claimed that he had chopped the icon and burnt it in a furnace, because he only needed its valuable plating. However, nobody will ever know whether that was true!
On July 21st, 2005 His Holiness Alexis II Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia granted the thaumaturgic Vatican replica of Our Lady of Kazan to the Kazan eparchy. Now this gift from Pope John Paul II can be seen in the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.