On May 9, 2004 – Mother’s Day in the U.S. – an Icon of St. Anna, the Mother of the Holy Virgin Mary, located in the Russian Orthodox Church of Our Lady of Joy of All Who Sorrow in Philadelphia began to stream myrrh. On that Sunday one of the parishioners mentioned to the parish rector, Abbot Athanasy that the Icon of St. Anna seemed to be “perspiring”. Upon further investigation, Fr. Athanasy notice visible liquid streams and droplets. Accumulations of the liquid were seen on the cuff on St. Anna’s left hand and on her left shoulder veil. Droplets were also found elsewhere on the Icon. This fragrant, slightly oily liquid is commonly referred to as “myrrh”.
Initially the myrrh looked like tear drops, as if St. Anna was crying. More recently small, slow-moving streams of myrrh have appeared in other parts of the Icon. The Icon of St. Anna was commissioned by Fr. Athanasy in 1998, in the Mount of Olives Convent in Jerusalem. He himself had served there in 1980- 1981. In 1998, the Icon was completed, blessed at the Sepulcher of our Lord in the Jerusalem Church of the Resurrection, and brought to Philadelphia. When Fr. Athanasy was 7 years of age he fell off a second story building, fracturing his right ann. At the hospital they could not find a pulse in his arm and the doctors considered amputating the limb. Fr. Athanasy’s mother, a devout Catholic prayed to St. Anna. She procured oil from a nearby shrine dedicated to St. Anna and applied it to the injured arm. A pulse was soon detected in the arm, and after surgical procedures Fr. Athanasy’s ann healed completely.
Since that incident Fr. Athanasy always had a special veneration for St. Anna; he attributes the saving of his arm to St. Anna’s intervention before the Throne of God. For the last 8 years Fr. Athanasy has been the rector of the Philadelphia church, which had been procured by Russian immigrants back in 1950. Today, the Icon continues to stream myrrh, collected by cotton at the bottom of the Icon. The Icon has been placed in a wooden case with a glass cover. There is no riza (a metal covering) or any other decoration on the Icon. The myrrh dries up during Passion Week before and streams of myrrh begin to resume on Pascha. It has been noticed that the volume of myrrh increases on feast days and when many are gathered in prayer. Ever since myrrh has begun to stream from this Icon, private individuals as well as whole parishes have invited the Icon. Fr. Athanasy’s poor health does not permit him to do much traveling and to accommodate the ever increasing number of invitations. People frequently give Fr. Athanasy lists of names of family and friends for whom they request prayers before this Icon. These lists are kept under the Icon and are commemorated out loud during the various prayer services.
Fr. Athanasy from Philadelphia and the Myrrh-streaming Icon of St. Anna joined St. Tiknon’s monastery community (South Canaan, PA) in October 2011. A Supplicatory Service to the Miraculous Icon of St. Anna is performed at 1:00 p.m. every Sunday in the Chapel of All-Saints directly behind the Monastery Church.
Learn more about these events here.