Parishioners at a small, "cozy" Russian Orthodox Church in Hawaii say they have a lot to be thankful for.
"We certainly don't deserve it," Father Antole Lyovin says of the church's good fortune. After all, the Holy Theotokos of Iveron Russian Orthodox Church in Honolulu is home to not one, but two miracle icons.
The church's image of the Virgin Mary and Christ child and a wooden cross both are said to produce myrrh, an oily resin that Father Lyovin describes as "drops that are like dew, dew on grass."
The myrrh is said to smell sweet, like roses, and hold miraculous healing powers. It's credited with healing a young girl who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and for restoring sight to a man who was mostly blind from a football accident.
"Before he had the accident," Father Lyovin told KITV of the latter miracle, "he was not 20/20. But now he became 20/20."
The Honolulu image of the Virgin Mary started producing myrrh five years ago. While the icon is taken on tours around the country, its existence is little known outside of the Russian Orthodox church. The image is based on the Panagia Portaitissa, or the Iveron Theotokos, which was supposedly painted by Luke the Evangelist and is now housed on Mount Athos in Greece. The original prototype and many of its copies are also credited with wonderworking.
The Honolulu icon is an exact replica of a Montreal version, which streamed myrrh for fifteen years (1982-1997) and was cared for by Brother Jose Muñoz-Cortes. On the fifteenth anniversary of Brother Jose's death, the Honolulu icon started producing its myrrh.
Ever since, according to Father Lyovin, "A drop appears here, a drop appears there. And it starts flowing down. So, how can you fake that?"
Father Lyovin doesn't mind skeptics. He quotes the gospel saying that some have eyes but cannot see and have ears but cannot hear.
"I think," he told KITV thoughtfully, "even belief, to some extent, is sometimes a blessing."