15 Days 15 Icons — Our Lady of Cicero
On April 24, 1994, the traditional Lenten Chanting echoed in the background as Father Nicholas Dahdal, the Pastor of Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church was preparing for the Friday evening service. Visiting priest, Father Douglas Wyper, and a few parishioners, who were on hand earlier that evening, noticed a small stream of fluid on the Icon of the Blessed Virgin and Mother of God. By midnight on Friday, and right before the eyes of hundreds who had arrived to witness this phenomenon, there were now four streams that extended to the bottom of the Icon. Thus began the manifestation of God’s might, later proclaimed a miracle by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
Flocks of people waited for hours to visit the Icon, to ask for a blessing from her tears. Ten of thousands have made pilgrimages to the Church to pray before the Miraculous Weeping Icon, Our Lady of Cicero.
Father Nicholas believes the icon is a message from God. “Ours is an Orthodox congregation. I am a Palestinian. Most in our Church are from the Middle East. This is a very troubled part of the world. I believe the Icon is giving us a wake-up call — telling us to pray for the world. The world is not doing very well.”
To this day the Miraculous Weeping Icon, Our Lady of Cicero, has performed many miracles. A man brings holy bread to the church every week. He first arrived in a wheelchair. He could not walk. He was healed after visiting the Icon.
On the evening of December 10, 1997 at approximately 6:00 p.m., a fire broke out in the front portion of the altar area of the Church. Brother Symeon, our monk and faithful guardian of the Icon, upon smelling smoke immediately notified the fire department. No one suffered any physical injury, from this fire. However, extensive damage due to the smoke and the heat was visible on the walls and some of the icons in the Church. Minor smoke damage was visible on the Icon. When deemed safe by the Fire Chief a few of the parishioners were allowed inside the Church. Relics and other items from the altar were removed, including the Chalices, the Gospel and the Antimension.
Although the sight of our beloved Church brought tears to our eyes, our fear centered on the Miraculous Weeping Icon. We were able to remove it and store it in a safe place in the rectory. In what many of us feel as an extension of the miracle of the Weeping Icon, the flames managed to avoid the Iconostasis, and many of our other icons. Whereas other objects such as the church organ and music stands that were located opposite the altar were partially melted, the fire seemed to circle around the icons and iconostasis.
Although moved with emotion the faithful gathered in front of the Church to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. We prayed to our Lord, that through the intercessions of His Blessed Mother, we may be granted the strength and the courage to accept God’s will and the wisdom to move forward and to continue to minister to the needs of our beloved community. The community’s faith in God and their love for one another were reflected in the spirit of teamwork. Today the Church stands with a complete interior renovation, again as the shrine of our Miraculous Weeping Icon.