The Pope composed a prayer to the Mother of God of Kazan, read in Russian, in which he implored the Virgin to "return in the midst of brothers and sisters of holy Russia as a messenger of communion and peace."
The icon returns amid tensions between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Like most icons, this one has an intriguing history imbuing it with miraculous powers.
The first time the miraculous icon displayed its power was in 1612 in the struggle with Poles who, taking advantage of the Time of Troubles, tried not only to seize Moscow but also to install Catholicism. In a word, the Kazan icon is not simply an icon but a great symbol of Russian history and the Russian state.
It was after the attempt by the Turk Ali Agca upon the life of John Paul II that the Kazan icon was transferred to Rome and, according to the pontiff, helped him recover from his wounds.
Icons of the Mother of God.
Historical Accounts of Miracle-working Icons.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Orthodox Church and its icons — links aplenty regarding history, theology, and artistry.