The Catholic Southern Front

October 12, 2011

‘Wonder-working’ icon comes to St. George Serbian church

Filed under: Uncategorized — Conservative @ 5:00 pm

By Tim Botos staff writer
Posted Oct 06, 2011 @ 10:25 PM



An icon, depicting the Virgin Mary, and believed to possess healing powers, rolled into St. George Serbian Orthodox Church parking lot Thursday in a rented Ford Taurus.

Subdeacons Nathaniel and Dimitri, dressed in black robes, climbed out. A throng of local church leaders greeted them at the bottom of the church’s front steps.

The third and final man out — Reader Nectarios — opened a blue velvet satchel fastened around his neck. He gingerly slid the  “Wonderworking Hawaiian Iveron,” encased in a glass-faced picture frame, out of the bag.

He placed it in the hands of the local clergy, who proceeded to march it up the steps.


Inside, 300 men, women and children waited for a glimpse of the Iveron, an image of Mary holding the Christ child.

Some just wanted a look. Others came to venerate, or pay their respects to the icon, which “weeps” myrrh, an oil-like substance, and emanates an incessant aroma of roses.

A woman made the sign of the cross as it passed in front of her. The early afternoon sun glistened off the frame as clergy members carried it through double-doors into the church.

Squeezed tightly into pews, standing side-by-side, and even snaking out the front door, Christians of all kinds sang hymns and prayed.


They included Serbian Orthodox who call the church home, a woman from Greensburg United Methodist, Roman Catholics from churches such as Annunciation Church in Akron, Holy Family in Stow and Immaculate Heart of Mary in Cuyahoga Falls.

They included Vicky Bhe of Canal Fulton, a native of Indonesia. She is 75 and has visited such religious meccas as Rome and Guadulupe since becoming Roman Catholic in her early 30s.

“When the mother of God comes, it attracts all faiths,” said Subdeacon Nathaniel. He’s in the midst of a three-week tour, driving the icon to locations in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

It’s only during tours like these that Nectarios allows the Iveron out of his sight.

He takes it into restaurants when he eats. It’s with him at work. It has remained close by since June 2008, when the archbishop of western America named him guardian of the icon and told him to share it.

The icon has a unique, albeit short history.

Made by a Russian church supply company, it’s a replica of the Montreal Iveron icon, now kept in Greece. A parish rector in Hawaii gave the replica icon to Nectarios as a gift in 2007. Nectarios soon noticed a fragrance and myrrh. A priest once dried it over and over, but the myrrh returned.

“Slick, but not sticky,” Nectarios described the oily substance.


Nectarios said he witnessed a blind altar boy in Tucson, Ariz., regain his sight after kissing the icon.

He credits it with other miracles, including curing cancer in one sister, and healing the ills of another.

After the service, the Very Rev. Dragan Filipovic invited everyone to venerate the icon at an altar in the middle of the church. One at a time, believers bowed before, kneeled in front of and kissed it.

Filipovic rubbed a myrrh-soaked cotton ball in the sign of the cross on each forehead.

Vicky Bhe approached.

A pair of medallions, Our Lady of Guadulupe and the Madonna, dangled from her necklace against her purple sweater. She wasn’t looking for a miracle. She just wanted to say “thank you.”

“My family; my friends; continue to look after them,” she thought to herself, as she kissed the Iveron.



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