2009-08-17 11:49:00

German Catholics return the Russian Church the icon taken away during the World War II

Moscow, August 17, Interfax - Kazan Icon of the Mother of God taken from Russia during the World War II was ceremonially returned to the Russian Orthodox Church last Sunday.

The revered icon was transferred after the liturgy in Church of Our Lady, the Joy of All Who Sorrow in Bolshaya Ordynka street. The honourable abbot of Munsterschwarzach Abbey, Germany, handed the icon to Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

This is a copy of the famous Kazan Icon of the Mother of God gained in the 16th century which helped to free Moscow from Polish intervention.

The transferred icon was found by a German soldier Joseph Bertram in the ruins of Mtsenk, a town in the Oryol region. Bertram took the icon to Germany and eventually gave it over for safekeeping to a Benedictine abbey near Munster (Bavaria) and asked them to return the icon to Russia in future.

While transferring the icon today, Abbot Fidelis Ruppert referred to it as "a symbol of repentance and reconciliation."

"Joseph Bertram came to this land as an enemy soldier. But he was a believer, and this icon became a binding thread between his belief in God and his belief in Russian people," Abbot Ruppert said.

He asked forgiveness for the grief and suffering "inflicted by Germans on Russian people," and expressed hope that "the future of our nations will be peaceful and blessed" and that the spirit of "reconciliation, consent and love" will increasingly arise between Russians and Germans.