Craiova, Romania, April 1, 2020
Following the Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, His Eminence Metropolitan Irineu of Oltenia of the Romanian Orthodox Church led a holy procession against the coronavirus through the streets of Craiova in southwestern Romania with the wonderworking Madonna Dudu Icon of the Mother of God and the relics of St. Nephon of Constantinople, reports the Basilica News Agency.
The icon and relics were carried in two cars that stopped outside every church, where they were greeted by the sounding of the toaca and the ringing of the church bells.
“In these difficult moments of trial, our hope is with the Mother of God,” Met Irineu said, recalling the previous miraculous interventions of the Theotokos through her Madonna Dudu Icon, which has been brought out of its church in procession only in times of plague and pandemic: in 1813 and 1848 when Craiova faced the plague, and 1913 when it faced the cholera outbreak.
“More than a century ago, the miraculous icon of the Mother of God from Dud went out to the City to deliver the inhabitants of Craiova from cholera. Today we appeal again to her mercy to be delivered from this plague,” Met. Irineu said.
“We ask the merciful God to guard us all! We especially pray for the sick, doctors, nurses and all those who battle this disease in the first ranks! May God and His Blessed Mother protect us from all evil,” the hierarch added.
According to tradition, the wonderworking icon of the Theotokos was discovered by a Jewish merchant in a mulberry tree (dud, in Romanian) that is now in front of the church where the icon is kept.
Returning from the market one day, the merchant stopped to rest in a mulberry orchard near the Old Town Square. Lying under one of the mulberry trees, he noticed a light shining from the tree. He climbed it and found an icon of the Mother of God with the Christ Child.
He took the icon and hid it in the attic of his house. After a few days, wanting to sell the icon, the merchant could not find it in the attic. After a long search, he returned to the mulberry grove and found it in the same place where he had originally found it.
Upon hearing of this miracle, the locals built a church in honor of the Mother of God on the site where the icon was found.