In her latest podcast, Frederica talks with Father Athanasy, a Russian Orthodox priest who is the custodian of the myrrh-streaming icon of St. Anna, the grandmother of Christ, whose feast was today in the West, yesterday in the East.
In Orthodoxy, a frequent sort of miracle these days is when an icon "weeps" with oil infused with myrrh. Such icons and the oil that comes from them are often associated with healing miracles. Even apart from the miraculous origin of this oil, the Church has long used blessed oil for anointing the sick, and myrrh has been used medicinally for centuries, as well as for incense, perfume, and embalming.
Father Athanasy, with the blessing of his bishop, travels to visit parishes all over the country with the miraculous icon, leaving peace and healing in his wake. Earlier this month, he brought the icon to Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, right here in Beltsville, for the parish's patronal feast. Frederica recorded her talk with Father Athanasy after the Vigil service on 12 July, the eve of the feast. The next morning I attended the Liturgy at Holy Apostles, where I also had the privilege of venerating the icon and being anointed with its myrrh. The sweet fragrance of the myrrh on my forehead lasted all day!
At lunch after the Liturgy, I sat at Father Athanasy's table. He currently lives in Philadelphia, but he said the one thing that might make him consider relocating himself and the icon was if a church dedicated to St. Anna were to be founded in Annapolis, Maryland – literally, the City of Anna!