The extract is taken from the website of the TARBEINFO – RUSSKI TELEGRAF publishing house. Monthly newspaper World of Orthodoxy, №6 (63) June 2003
The Easter Trip
The pilgrim centre Andcross organized a pilgrim trip to the holy places of the diocese of St Petersburg during Bright Week. Parishioners from Tallinn and other places in northern Estonia went on this trip. A joyful Easter mood was prevailing during the entire journey.
The first stop during our pilgrimage was Alexander-Svirsky Monastery, which is located near the town of Lodeynoye Pole. The newly found relics of the great devotee of the Church St Alexander Svirsky, to whom the Most Holy Trinity appeared, are the main shrine of this monastery. In the Soviet era, the relics of the saint were kept in the storerooms of the anatomical museum of the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg and were labeled “mummified remains of an unknown person”. The Lord has recently revealed that these remains are actually the incorrupt relics of the seer of the Most Holy Trinity.
Nowadays, 18 monks live and work in the Alexander-Svirsky monastery, which doesn’t fully belong to the church yet. They also take care of two convents: the Vvedeno-Oyatsky convent, where the earthly journey of the saint’s parents came to an end, and the Pokrovo-Tervenichesky convent, which was built quite recently – in 1991.
When in St. Petersburg, we stayed at the Voskresensky Novodevichy monastery on Moskovsky Prospekt. Nowadays, it is difficult to understand that this is a monastery because of destruction during the Soviet era. This place was turned into a boarding school, a collective farm, and a research institute. Before the revolution, there were several churches in the monastery. Now, services are held in a church built in the Byzantine style in 1918. This church was initially erected as a chapel for burying the inhabitants of the monastery. The church exterior is decorated with mosaic images. Inside, there’s the mural and the work on it is almost finished. It helps believers to better understand the meaning of worship and Christian life. This painting is the work of artists from modern icon painting workshops in Moscow. A few years ago, the relics of the Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky) were discovered among the graves in the cemetery of the Novodevichy monastery. These relics were taken to Moscow, where the holy martyr used to hold services. A fragment of the relics and clerical clothing donated by the Hieromaartyr Seraphim (Chichagov), in which Saint Hilarion was buried, were left in St. Petersburg.
On Bright Saturday, after the Divine Liturgy at St. John’s Monastery, we received the blessing to attend a liturgical service at St John of Kronstadt. After having some tea in the monastery, we went to the Smolensk cemetery to see the grave of Saint Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg. On this day, we also prayed near the Mother of God of Kazan in the Kazan Cathedral and venerated the relics of the Saint Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky.
Our Sunday began in the urban-type settlement of Vyritsa. The rector of the Church of the Mother of God of Kazan, Archpriest Alexy, who has been serving there since 1968, warmly welcomed us there. Everyone prayed together and partook of the Holy Mysteries at the Divine Liturgy, attended a liturgical service at the grave of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa, and set off on our way back to Estonia.
Everyone was in a joyful and prayerful mood. Our guide from the pilgrimage service of the Church of St Elijah the Prophet in St. Petersburg and his interesting stories about the holy places we were visiting and the devotees who lived and worked there helped us focus.
On behalf of all pilgrims, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of this trip – the Andcross Pilgrim Center. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to pray at the relics of the great devotees of the northwest of Russia, who were also praying for the Orthodox Church of Estonia.
Priest Alexander Lebedev.
World of Orthodoxy, №6 (63) June 2003
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