A RELIGIOUS icon venerated throughout the Orthodox world for its holiness and healing powers will be displayed at a Wirral church next month.

When the Kursk Root Icon – a 13th century image of the Virgin May – last came to St Elisabeth’s Russian Orthodox Church in Wallasey it attracted hundreds of people from across the North West to a special veneration service.

Church minister Father Paul Elliott said: "As an icon it dates back to a time before the division of Russia and Ukraine and is much revered by both.

"It is a blessing that it comes at a time when it can emphasise what both peoples have in common and when both were part of one great people.

"My little congregation loved welcoming it last time and various local people who visited the church at the time were really struck by its holy presence and how different they felt after having been near it."

The icon has survived wars, fires and revolutions, finally leaving Russia with the defeat of the White Armies in 1922 after the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

It is now kept in New York but visits parishes of the Russian Church abroad from time to time.

Father Elliott said: "When it comes to St Elisabeth's it does not attract hundreds of thousands of people, which it does in the former USSR, so an individual can have more time with the icon and receive great consolation and comfort."

The icon was painted in Northern Russia in the mid 13th century and has, reportedly, healed many people over the centuries – most significantly the great Russian ascetic St Seraphim of Sarov in the 18th century.

It will be at the Russian Orthodox Church in Rake Lane, Wallasey on June 6. The service starts at 6pm.