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The image of Our Lady of Kazan is said to have come to Russia from Constantinople in the 13th century. After the Tatars besieged Kazan and made it the capital of their khanate in 1438, the icon disappeared, and it is not mentioned again until the 16th century, some years after the liberation of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible in 1552.
After a fire destroyed Kazan in 1579, the Virgin appeared in a prophetic dream to a 10-year-old girl named Matrona and told her where to find the precious image again. As instructed, Matrona told the [[archbishop]] about her dream, but he would not take her seriously. After two more such dreams, on July 8, 1579, the girl and her mother themselves dug up the image, buried under the ashes of a house, where it had been hidden long before to save it from the Tatars. The unearthed icon looked as bright and beautiful as if it were new. The archbishop repented of his unbelief and took the icon to the Church of St. Nicholas, where a blind man was cured that very day.
Hermogen, the [[priest]] at this church, later became Metropolitan of Kazan. He brought the icon to Kazan’s Cathedral of the Annunciation and established July 8 as a feast in honor of the Theotokos of Kazan. It is from Ermogen’s chronicle, written at the request of the tsar in 1595, that we know of these events.
By 1612, when Moscow was occupied by Polish invaders, Ermogen, had become Patriarch of All Russia. From prison, he called for a three-day fast and ordered the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to be brought to Princes Minin and Pozharsky, who were leading the resistance to the occupation. This icon – possibly the original, but more likely a copy – was carried before their regiments as they fought to regain the capital from the Poles. When the Polish army was finally driven from Moscow on [[October 22]], 1612, the victory was attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God, and the Kazan icon became a focal point for Russian national sentiments. Later that year, when Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich came to the throne, he appointed both [[July 8]] and [[October 22]] as feasts in honor of Our Lady of Kazan.