Hawaii icon produces myrrh; considered a miracle
You would never think a tiny parish in the heart of Kaka'ako would house such a secret. But, its existence is well-known to those in the Russian Orthodox faith.
An image of the Virgin Mary produces myrrh. There's no explanation for it. Yet, for those who believe -- it's a miracle.
"It's made us, perhaps, more humble towards God and the church," said parishioner Coco Wiel. "We've started to realize we have a much bigger responsibility to take care of the parish."
It's known as the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos. But, to parishioners, it's simply a miracle.
It's an image of the Mother Mary and Christ child that, for reasons unexplainable, produces myrrh. Small drops that smell like roses.
"Drops that appear like dew, like dew on grass," said Father Antole Lyovin of the Holy Theotokos of Iveron Russian Orthodox Church. "A drop appears here, a drop appears there. And it starts flowing down. So, how can you fake that?"
The icon is actually a smaller reproduction of the original that resides in Greece. It, too, streams myrrh.
Hawaii's icon began streaming the oil-like substance five years ago, on the 15th anniversary of the death of its original keeper, Brother Jose Munoz, who had wanted to visit the church in Honolulu named after the icon, but never made it to the islands.
"He asked Holy Mother Virgin Mary to bless our community just the same. So that's what we think," said Father Lyovin.
For those who believe, the holy myrrh is credited with helping cure a young girl diagnosed with a brain tumor.
"We prayed, we anointed her with myrrh and everything. It was such a tragedy for the family," said Father Lyovin. "After the operations, the doctors said, turned out to be a very rare case in the United States. The first case where it turned out to be not so aggressive. After they cut it out, she went through chemo and now she's back with us."
Father Anatole says requests for the myrrh come from all over the world. The icon has been deemed a miracle by a committee of Orthodox priests who examined it themselves. Yet, the skeptics still abound.
"Even some of our parishioners, in the beginning, they look at it and said there ought to be a good scientific explanation for this," said Father Lyovin. "They're saying that they have a strong belief in science. Science doesn't allow beliefs. In the Gospel, sometimes says they have eyes but they cannot see. They have ears, but they don't hear. Because, I think even belief, to some extent, is sometimes a blessing."
And if that blessing isn't enough, this tiny parish in Kaka'ako not only has one miracle, but two. A wooden cross on an altar also streams myrrh.
"You can even see a little bit on the bottom here. We don't say that it weeps because weeping would be from the eyes," said Father Lyovin. "It was from the hands and you bless with hands, so we felt that was a blessing."
Not all do. The church understands.
"Those who don't, it's OK," said Wiel. "God will perhaps speak to you in a different way."
"Some people say well why don't you build a cathedral here if you're so blessed? The cathedral is not the blessing," said Father Lyovin. "The blessing is, how should I say, having like a family-like parish where we know each other like all related. People who come here, very many tourists come to us and they always say it's so cozy. I feel so good with you folks. We can live without the cathedral.
The icon is not housed at the church. It's carefully protected and travels quite a bit at the request of other churches.
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