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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
In pictures: Russian icon returns
Virgin of Kazan icon
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Nobody knows the exact history of this 18th Century replica of Russia's revered Virgin of Kazan icon before it was sold to Roman Catholics in the US in 1970.
Cardinal Walter Kasper blesses the icon with incense in Rome
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But with the original believed to have been destroyed, the Vatican was well aware of the copy's spiritual importance and publicly venerated it this year at St Peter's Basilica.
Vatican delegation arrives in Moscow with icon in box
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That was the prelude to sending it back to Russia, returning an important image to an Orthodox Church recovering from the ravages of Soviet Communism.
Cardinal Walter Kasper carries icon into the Cathedral of the Assumption
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The same Catholic cardinal who blessed the icon at St Peter's carried it into Moscow's historic Cathedral of the Assumption.
Patriarch Alexy looks at the returned icon
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Patriarch Alexy, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was there to see the precious image back in its homeland.
The icon goes on display at the Cathedral of the Assumption
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The original icon was venerated for centuries and was used to inspire Russian soldiers going into battle.
Russia's Patriarch Alexy (L) greets Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Vatican
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The Russian patriarch thanked the Vatican, but it will take more than the Pope's gift to reconcile the two Christian Churches.




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