A lot is known about the miracles and intercession of the Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. Twice a year, the myrrh-gushing icon “visits” St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Orthodox faithful travel for several hours from Baltimore and distant cities of Virginia and Maryland to venerate the icon. Father Nectarius Youngston, the custodian of the icon, travels all over America and Canada with it. I have met various people who have been wondrously healed or helped by praying before the icon. Below are some of their testimonies.
Sasha, Washington D. C.
He was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. He was struggling with leukemia for three and a half years. Finally, the disease subsided. His parents are convinced that it was the icon that healed their son. Every time the icon stayed in Washington, D.C., Sasha’s parents brought him to the cathedral. Father Nectarius would give them a vial of myrrh each time. The boy is 10 years old now. He goes to school, swims in the pool, and dances. His peers like him, and he has a lot of friends. He observes all the doctors’ recommendations.
E., Washington D. C.
She was diagnosed with leukemia after several tests, examinations, and an X-ray of the chest. The girl’s parents had a moleben served for their daughter, and the girl was anointed with the myrrh from the icon. Before starting therapy, she was examined by doctors at the hospital again. Her condition was pleasantly surprising. They repeated the tests and found out that she had no leukemia. The doctors were shocked. They re-examined her several times, ruled out technical errors or failure of electronic documents. The only thing they could say was that it was a miracle.
Alice, 42 years old
“I was feeling under the weather all the time but my blood tests were fine. Doctors said it was self-delusion. They didn’t do a more in-depth examination. Things were getting worse: I was fatigued, drowsy, and moody; my skin was dry and my hair was brittle. I learned about the arriving icon from friends. I did not really believe in miracles, but I went to the cathedral, venerated the icon and asked the Blessed Virgin for help. And then, a new physician who was a better diagnostician showed up and prescribed an ultrasound of the thyroid gland and then a biopsy for me. It turned out that I had the first stage of thyroid cancer. The surgery was successful. An experienced endocrinologist quickly identified the appropriate dosage for hormone replacement therapy. The icon helped me! Thyroid cancer develops insidiously and quietly, and it is hard to catch it at an early stage. Considering that nobody linked my complaints to oncology, it is scary to imagine what could have happened, especially since my children are still very young. Life goes on, I celebrate each and every day”.
“I found a job after praying before this icon. You might think that it was no big deal but for me, it was critical. Our third baby was coming, and I had sick elderly parents. I lived in a rental apartment, and the landlord was going to evict me… I have no doubt that it was a gift, a blessing from the Holy Mother of God”.
All believers who know Father Nectarius speak of him as a gentle and sympathetic person. He remembers almost everyone who turned to him for help. He finds a kind word and a bottle of myrrh from the icon for everyone in need of help from the Mother of God and the Lord.
Therefore, when Father Nectarius himself was admitted to hospital in a critical condition, people were praying for him in Orthodox churches all around the world: in small and large American cities, in European capitals and suburbs, and, of course, in Russia.
And now we would like to share the happy news of the healing of Father Nectarius. This time, a miracle happened to him. The keeper of the icon received his spiritual father’s blessing to tell us his incredible story.
Last fall, Father Nectarius, as usual, traveled a lot with the icon. During his travels he fell seriously ill with pneumonia. Then it got worse. He was admitted to hospital with a diabetic emergency (his blood sugar level was 651). As a result of that, his eyesight began to deteriorate dramatically. He had difficulty doing the simplest things at work, and he was unable to sing in the choir. His vision was blurred, fuzzy and grainy, and he had severe headaches. Strong eyeglasses didn’t help. But the hardest thing for Father Nectarius was that he could not read the names of those who had asked him to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He had been doing it every day for the previous twelve years, starting at 3 a.m.
His ophthalmologist warned Father Nectarius that in his case (diabetes), laser surgery or eye injections would either make the vision less blurry and help to avoid blindness, or lead to further deterioration…
On the eve of the celebration (February 25) of the wonderworking Iveron icon of the Most Holy Mother of God in Moscow, Father Nectarius had a dream. Here is an excerpt from his letter to the faithful, which was published on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, with the blessing of Father Nectarius’s spiritual father:
“I had a dream that I was sitting in a room and reading a book, and there was a young Virgin to my right, who was looking at me with a smile. Her hands were on her knees. It was the Most Holy Mother of God. I looked at her and She smiled. I found myself smiling back, too. There was a complete and perfect peace around me. And then I woke up straight away. That was all I saw. No more, no less. Only the peace that surrounded me.
Instinctively, I reached for my phone, which was charging at the time, and looked at the clock. It was early in the morning. Then I realized I hadn’t put my glasses on, and I immediately reached for them. But then I realized something had changed. I could see everything, literally everything… without my glasses! Shocked, I grabbed my Bible and opened it, and was able to see the passage clearly. It was 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” By God’s will, I opened the Bible on that very page! I jumped up and ran to the chapel where the Holy Iveron Icon is kept now (we do not yet open it to everyone). I looked at the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Peace. Only… peace.”
Later, Father Nectarius checked his blood sugar level, and it was normal – for the first time in two months.
During his usual checkup, his ophthalmologist told him that it was a miracle: there was no trace of diabetes in his eyes.
Father Nectarius says, “I had my eyesight restored on the Feast of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. Was it a miracle? I believe that it was. Could it be that my blood sugar level was stabilized and my eyesight was restored without a Divine intervention? But then how do I explain that there are no traces of diabetes in my eyes? I repeat, the Lord is good!
I don’t know what else I can say, but maybe this is it. All our troubles, be they physical, health-related, mental, even financial – in a word, whatever they may be – should bring us closer to God, not alienate us from Him”.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
In regard to your article “Healing of the Custodian of the Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God”, a more appropriate word should be used in place of worship where you say “…the faithful travel … to worship the icon.” Worship is reserved for God alone. Faithful Orthodox venerate icons. Sincerely,
Dear Brenda, we are sorry. You are absolutely right!