The Intercession (Pokrovsky) MonasteryRussian: Pokrovskiy monastyr’ or Покровский монастырь is a convent in Moscow, associated with St. Matrona of Moscow. This is one of Russia’s most venerated holy women who is believed to have performed miraculous healing, giving people strength to endure hardship with dignity. Thousands of pilgrims come to the monastery to bow to St. Matrona of Moscow’s relics. The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos ‘Seeking Out the Lost’Russian: Ikona Bozhey Materi «Vzyskanie pogibshikh» or Икона Божией Матери «Взыскание погибших» and St. Matrona’s relics are the shrines of the monastery.
Liturgy, or public worship, is performed in the Intercession Monastery churches every day. There is a sacred spring with a holy-water chapel above it, where there are always queues. A church shop and a hotel are at tourists’ disposal.
Michael Ithe first Russian Tsar of the house of Romanov after the zemskiy sobor (the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type) of 1613 of Russia had the Intercession Monastery founded in 1635 to commemorate his father Patriarch Philaret. The monastery was erected over an old cemetery for the homeless and the executed, which is why its original name was BozhedomskyRussian: Божедомский (from Russian bozhiy dom for ‘house of God’), or the Pokrov Monastery on Paupers’ GravesRussian: monastyr Pokrova na ubogikh domakh or монастырь Покрова на убогих домах. The old wooden parish church at the cemetery subsequently changed its status and became a minster. Construction was completed by the Most Peaceful Alexis of Russiathe tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676. The dilapidated church was replaced by the stone Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy TheotokosRussian: Sobor Pokrova Bogoroditsy or Собор Покрова Богородицы in 1655, and some office facilities were added.
A theological seminary used to exist within the Intercession Monastery in the 18th century. A three-tiered bell tower was added in 1799, and stone walls with five towers were later built around the monastery. The monastery suffered a sad fate in 1812, during the French occupation of Moscow, when a French general chose it to be his quarters. The French army devastated and destroyed everything they could. For this reason, the monastery was rebuilt virtually from scratch and re-consecrated as soon as the war was over. Two churches and a tent-roofed bell tower have been active by the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, two poorhouses and a parochial school were also constructed.
The Intercession Monastery suffered more losses during the Soviet era. Services were cancelled in 1926, and the monastery was shut down. A park was built over the monastery graveyard in 1934. The monastery buildings were turned over to the use of the public in various capacities and it was only in 1994 that the Holy Synod succeeded in reinstating the Intercession Monastery as a convent. The first service was performed by five nuns led by Mother Theophania in the half-ruined Intercession Church in 1995. The monastery became the sanctuary for St. Matrona of Moscow’s relics in May 1998.
MATRONA OF MOSCOW
Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova was born in 1881 into a peasant family and was blind from early childhood. At the age of eight, she could already heal illnesses thanks to her self-sacrificing faith in God. In time, she was recognised as a prophet. Her legs were paralysed when she was 17, but her patience and desire to outride all bodily hardships for the sake of spiritual perfection were stronger than her suffering. Against all the odds, she often went on pilgrimage, visiting many holy places, and was blessed by St. John of Kronstadt.
Matrona moved to Moscow in 1925. Dozens of sick and suffering people came to see her every day, and she tried to help them with all of her spiritual power. Rumour has it that even Joseph Stalin visited Matrona, who said he would defeat Nazi Germany. Matrona died in 1952 and was buried at Donskoe CemeteryRussian: Donskoe kladbische or Донское кладбище in Moscow. Her original grave is now topped by a chapel, which also receives endless streams of pilgrims. She was canonised in 2004.
St. Matrona of Moscow is especially revered by Russian people of faith for her earthly deeds and miracles, some witnesses of which are still alive. The relics of this holy woman, available to visitors from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, make this one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Russia. The miraculous power of this saint is believed to help even the unfaithful fight their illnesses and woes.
The St. Matrona of Moscow’s Church of the Intercession Stauropegic Convent Russian: Pokrovskiy stavropigialnyi zhenskiy monastyr or Покровский ставропигиальный женский монастырьis located at the intersection of Varshavskoe HighwayRussian: Varshavskoe shosse or Варшавское шоссе and Moscow Ring RoadRussian: MKAD or МКАД, outside the latter, around the 33rd kilometre. Churches and chapels consecrated to this saint can be found in many Russian cities and even abroad: in Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, and the United States. Sanctuaries with St. Matrona’s relics are welcomed by crowds of worshippers wherever they are brought.
The architecture of the Intercession Monastery deserves special attention. The main minster, Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, built in 1655, underwent major reconstructions in 1806–1814. This is a one-storey building with six side chapels consecrated to the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Nicholas, Jonah of Moscow, Hilarion, and St. Neil Stolobensky. The cathedral is designed in the style of early 19th-century classicism with its typical geometry, decorative porticos, triangular pediments and round dome.
The Anastasis (Voskresenie Slovushchee) CathedralRussian: Khram Voskreseniya Slovuschego or Храм Воскресения Словущего in the Roman style has three side chapels; Voskresenie SlovushcheeRussian: Воскресения Словущего, Theotokos of TikhvinRussian: Tikhvinskoy ikony Bozhey Materi or Тихвинской иконы Божией Матери, and St. Matrona of MoscowRussian: svyatoy Matrony Moskovskoy or святой Матроны Московской. The monastery bell tower was blown up by the Bolsheviksmembers of a wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, which, led by Lenin, seized control of the government in Russia (October 1917) and became the dominant political power in 1926 and rebuilt in 1999. The first stone in its foundation was laid by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Rus’. The monastery’s red-brick walls with picturesque towers and other structures also changed considerably during the course of restoration.
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