St. Katherine Orthodox Church was blessed with a visit from the myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God, Softener of Evil Hearts, on October 7. The faithful came from all over San Diego County to venerate the miracle working icon, which was followed by a meal and Q&A with the icon’s caretaker, Sergei Leonidovich Fomin, from Moscow.
Mr. Fomin provided a vial of myrrh from the icon, which Fr. Andrew used to anoint those present. An akathist (special prayer service) was read to the Mother of God, and visitors could clearly see the myrrh flowing down the surface of the icon and even beading on the icon’s glass covering.
The Softener of Evil Hearts is unusual in that the icon depicts the Mother of God without Christ. Her heart is pierced by seven arrows, representing the suffering she experienced. The miracle-working icon is a mounted paper copy, which was placed on the relics (bones) of St. Matrona of Moscow on the day she was glorified (declared a saint) in 1998 and began streaming a fragrant myrrh shortly thereafter.
The Softener of Evil Hearts now travels the world, bringing together crowds of people seeking to venerate (honor with bows and an affectionate kiss) the icon. The amount of myrrh coming from the icon has ebbed and flowed over the years, with more streaming after certain global and national tragedies.
Many people have been healed by the grace of God through the icon. Other people have had their faith restored or been able to let go of difficult feelings toward their enemies, in keeping with the icon’s name.