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Orthodox Sanctities in Moscow

Orthodox Sanctities in Moscow

KEY FACTS

  • There are hundreds of orthodox Sanctities in Moscow in various temples and monasteries of the city.
  • he main place among the Orthodox shrines is the miraculous images of the Mother of God.
  • The main Orthodox church in Russia - the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Here are the relics of - the saint Metropolitan Peter of Moscow.
  • In the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin there are relics of saints Michael and Theodore of Chernigov, and of the holy Dimitry Donskoy.
  • You will find revered shrines in the Epiphany Cathedral in Elokhov, Danilovsky and Donsky monasteries and many other temples mentioned here.
  • There is no information in English in Moscow monasteries and temples.

After the Turks conquered Constantinople in the mid-15th century, it was thought that Moscow, being the capital of Rus’, was the last stronghold of Orthodoxy, or “the Third Rome”. A famous saying by the Orthodox monk Philotheus goes like this: “two Romes have fallen and there shall be no fourth”. This view of Moscow’s role in the Orthodox religion became the cornerstone of the way of life of the Russian capital in the medieval period, and subsequently evolved. Since the 16th century, Moscow has been the residence of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. It is impossible to list all the Orthodox sanctities and relics in Moscow. There are hundreds scattered all around the city in various churches and monasteries. One of the key relics among them are venerated icons of the Mother of God, who is considered to be the Most Holy Patroness of Orthodox Russia.

 

SANCTITIES OF KREMLIN CATHEDRALS AND ST.BASIL`S CATHEDRAL

The Uspensky CathedralRussian: Uspenskiy sobor or Успенский собор, or the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin is the most venerated shrine of Moscow – it is Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral. It is dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God. Over the centuries, it has served as the resting place for Metropolitans and Patriarchs of Moscow and All Russia. Relics of the Metropolitan Peter of Moscow, who transferred the Metropolitan’s seat from Kiev to Moscow, are laid to rest in it. The Cathedral of the Dormition houses the relics of Metropolitan Peter’s followers – Metropolitan Theognostos, Cyprianus, Photius, Jonah, Macarius of Moscow, and Philip, as well as the relics of holy hierarch patriarch Jonah (Russia’s first Patriarch) and saint martyr Patriarch Germogen. Their holy relics are said to have brought about numerous miracles and healings.

Saint Metropolitan Peter’s crosier, old icons of the 14-15th centuries (The Sautoir of the Fiery EyeRussian: Spas «Yaroe oko» or Спас «Ярое око», Icon of the Holy TrinityRussian: ikona sv. Troitsy or икона св. Троицы, Dormition of the Mother of God IconRussian: ikona Uspeniya Bogoroditsy or икона Успения Богородицы) are kept in the Cathedral of Dormition of the Moscow Kremlin. All the relics are accessible during the somewhat infrequent services held with the Patriarch’s blessing. The cathedral transforms into a museum when services are not being held.

The Arkhangelsky, or Archangel CathedralRussian: Arkhangelskiy sobor or Архангельский собор, also located on Sobornaya squareRussian: Sobornaya ploschad or Соборная площадь of the Kremlin, houses a reliquary with relics of saints Michael and Theodor Chernigov as well as relics of Saint Blessed Prince Dmitry Donskoythe first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in Russia.

Traditionally royal family members and princes were buried in this cathedral. A reliquary which contains Saint Blessed Tsarevich Dmitry of Uglich’s relics is particularly distinctive. After his tragic death in 1591, Tsar Ivan the Terribleruled from 1533 to 1584’s son was sainted in the early 17th century. In the Orthodox tradition, he is considered to be the patron saint of children. Services are performed in the Arkhangelsky Cathedral on saints’ days and with the Patriarch’s blessing. The rest of the time this cathedral is also a museum.

However, Moscow’s best known cathedral is PokrovskyRussian: Покровский, or St. Basil’s CathedralRussian: khram Vasiliya Blazhennogo or храм Василия Блаженного (2, Red SquareRussian: Krasnaya ploschad or Красная площадь). The cathedral was named after St. Basil, a fool-for-Christ. His relics rest in the cathedral’s chapel. St. Basil took up the feat of foolishness – a special way to God known in Christianity – at an early age. This involved living without clothes and food, which he did for 72 years, making prophesies, saving and changing people and earning their endless support. Tsar Ivan the Terrible himself carried his coffin to the burial place. There are numerous hearings attributed to St. Basil’s relics.

SACREDS OF THE ANCIENT MONASTERY OF MOSCOW

Saint Alexis founded Moscow’s first convent not far from the Kremlin. It is called the Zachatievsky ConventRussian: Zachatevskiy monastyr or Зачатьевский монастырь (2, 2nd Zachatievsky side strRussian: 2-y Zachatevskiy pereulok or 2-й Зачатьевский переулок.). Devastated during Soviet rule, the Zachatievsky Convent was restored in the 21st century. Inside, you will find the tombs of Sts. Juliana and Eupraxia, the founders of the cloister, as well as St. Alexis’ sisters’ tombs. The main relic of the Convent is the Icon of Our Mother of God “The Benevolent”Russian: ikona Bozhiey materi «Milostivaya» or икона Божией матери «Милостивая», which is claimed to work miracles. People pray to it in times of grief and ill health. The icon is kept in the main cathedral of the Convent – the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Mother of GodRussian: sobor Rozhdestva Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy or собор Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы.

Before the Convent was restored, the icon had been kept in the neighbouring Iliji Obydenny Church, or Elijah the Trivial ChurchRussian: khram Il'i Obydennogo or храм Ильи Обыденного (6, 2nd Obydensky side strRussian: 2-y Obydenskiy pereulok or 2-й Обыденский переулок.). It is known that in Soviet time, the Kremlin’s cathedrals and monasteries were closed down and converted into museums – some were destroyed. The Elijah the Trivial Church is the Orthodox Church closest to the Kremlin which continued operating under Soviet rule. In those years, relics from the devastated neighbouring monasteries and churches were secretly collected and safeguarded there. The church relics of interest here are the Icon of Our Mother of God “Unexpected Joy”Russian: ikona Bozhiey Materi «Nechayannaya radost'» or икона Божией Матери «Нечаянная радость», a part of the belt of the Most Holy Mother of God, as well as the relics of saints, including those of St. Stephen.

Among the most famous active monasteries in Moscow is the Pokrovsky MonasteryRussian: Pokrovskiy monastyr or Покровский монастырь (58, TaganskayaRussian: Таганская str.). It houses the relics of St. Matrona of MoscowRussian: moschi sv. Matrony Moskovskoy or мощи св. Матроны Московской. From an early age, Matrona was said to have had the gift of prophecy. People from all around the neighbourhood and later from all over the country came to her for advice. Her mortal life is set as an example of feat of spirit, self-denial, love and patience. She died in 1952. Her relics were obtained in 1998 and placed in a reliquary of the Pokrovsky Cathedral of the monastery. People pray to St. Matrona to secure a happy marriage and family life.

The oldest monastery in Moscow is the stauropeugic Danilov MonasteryRussian: Danilovskiy monastyr or Даниловский монастырь (22, Danilovsky valRussian: Даниловский вал). It was founded more than seven centuries ago by the first Prince of Moscow – St. Prince Daniel. It was with this monastery that the revival of Orthodox Moscow began in the waning days of Soviet rule; in 1983 the ravaged monastery was assigned to the Orthodox Church and became the residence of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. At present, the monastery is occupied by the external affairs department and the Synodial ResidenceRussian: Sinodalnaya rezidentsiya or Синодальная резиденция.

New churches have arisen in this old cloister. The oldest of these is the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils ChurchRussian: khram svv. Ottsov semi Vselenskikh soborov or храм свв. Отцов семи Вселенских соборов. The relics of St. Prince Daniel of Moscow himself are kept in a reliquary here. They were found to be incorrupt in the mid-17th century. The Troitsky, or Trinity CathedralRussian: Troitskiy sobor or Троицкий собор houses a reliquary with particles of St. Prince Daniel’s relics, while the Pokrovsky ChurchRussian: Pokrovskiy khram or Покровский храм has St. Prince Daniel’s icons with particles of his relics. Among other relics held in the monastery are a particle of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker’s relics, St. George’s relics, the venerated icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”Russian: ikona Bozhiey Materi «Troeruchitsa» or икона Божией Матери «Троеручица», and others.

Pilgrims tend to be interested in the Danilovsky church bells. They were spared from melting down in 1930 by American industrialist Charles Crane, who bought them at the price of bronze scrap and passed them over to the Harvard University. For many years, they topped the tower of the Lowell-House student dormitory at Harvard. In 2008, the authentic bells were returned to Russia. Harvard instead now has a wonderful replica of the original bells. The monastery offers guided tours which include a visit to the belfry and observation of the famous bells. There is a pilgrimage centre, a shop with Orthodox books, and a hotel called DanilovskayaRussian: Даниловская in the monastery as well.

One of the famed Orthodox cloisters in the capital is the Donskoy MonasteryRussian: Donskoy monastyr or Донской монастырь (1-3, Donskaya squareRussian: Donskaya ploschad or Донская площадь). St Patriarch Tikhon, who headed the Orthodox Church during very difficult years, suffered from oppression from the Soviet authorities, but continued to unshakably defend Orthodoxy. He was buried here in 1925. His relics were miraculously found in 1992 and are kept in the Main cathedral of the monastery at present. The Donskoy Monastery also contains one of Rus’ most venerated relics – The Don Icon of the Mother of GodRussian: Donskaya ikona Bozhiey materi or Донская икона Божией матери. This icon was considered to be a defender of Russian warriors. In fact, it is kept in the Tretyakov Art GalleryRussian: Tretyakovskaya galereya or Третьяковская галерея but every year it is brought to the Donskoy Monastery for the Icon Day celebration.

KNOWN ICONS OF GOD’S MOTHER IN MOSCOW

In Moscow, there are icons which are traditionally prayed to in certain moments of believer’s lives. Take for example, the Iberian Icon of the Mother of God (1, Voskresensky passagewayRussian: Voskresenskiy proezd or Воскресенский проезд), considered to be the defender of the city of Moscow. It is prayed to when commencing a important and challenging cause or starting a long journey. Its replica is located in the 1990s-restored chapel by the Voskresensky, or Iberian GateRussian: chasovnya u Iverskikh (Voskresenskikh) vorot or часовня у Иверских (Воскресенских) ворот of Red Square.

In OrdynkaRussian: Ордынка street, there is a wonderful classicist Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All SorrowingRussian: khram Ikony Bozhiey Materi Vsekh Skorbyaschikh Radost' or храм Иконы Божией Матери Всех Скорбящих Радость built to O. Bovean Italian-Russian neoclassical architect who supervised reconstruction of Moscow after the Fire of 1812’s design (20, Bolshaya OrdynkaRussian: Большая Ордынка str.). Its main relic is the Icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Sorrowing”Russian: obraz Bogomateri «Vsekh skorbyaschikh radost'» or образ Богоматери «Всех скорбящих радость». People pray to it when they are seeking health or healing of the sick. Not far from here in the Gregory of Neocaesarea ChurchRussian: khram Grigoriya Neokesariyskogo or храм Григория Неокесарийского (29, Bolshaya PolyankaRussian: Большая Полянка str.), is a reliquary with a particle of Neocaesarean bishop St. Gregory’s relics. He is widely known for combating paganism. Legend has it that he was the one who wrote the Symbol of Faith, which forms the basis of the Orthodox doctrine. It is known that Tsar Peter the Greatruled from 1682 until 1725’s parents Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Natalia Kirillovna’s wedding took place in the church. It is adorned with beautiful ceramic tiles and is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the city.

The Icon of the Mother of God “The SovereignRussian: Ikona Bozhiey Materi «Derzhavnaya» or Икона Божией Матери «Державная» is kept in the Kazan CathedralRussian: Kazanskiy sobor or Казанский собор on the premises of the museum reserve KolomenskoyeRussian: muzey-zapovednik «Kolomenskoe» or музей-заповедник «Коломенское» (39, Andropova avenueRussian: prospekt Andropova or проспект Андропова). The icon was miraculously found in this former tsar’s country retreat in 1917. Legend has it that this happened on the day Emperor Nicholas IIthe last Emperor of Russia, ruling from 1894 until his forced abdication in 1917 abdicated the throne. The icon depicts the Mother of God seated on a throne in the form of the Queen of Heaven with the attributes of the tsar’s power – the scepter and the ball. Its image seems to indicate that, after the abdication of the Lord’s Anointed, she becomes the main defender and patroness of Russia.

St. Nicholas Church in TolmachiRussian: tserkov' sv. Nikolaya v Tolmachakh or церковь св. Николая в Толмачах (9, Maly Tolmachevsky side strRussian: Malyi Tolmachevskiy pereulok or Малый Толмачевский переулок.), which is now a part of the Tretyakov Art Gallery, houses one of the most venerated icons in Russia – The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of GodRussian: ikona Vladimirskoy Bozhiey Materi or икона Владимирской Божией Матери. Legend has it that the icon was painted by St. Evangelist Luke. In the 12th century, it was moved from outside Kiev to Vladimira city located on the Klyazma River, 200 kilometers to the east of Moscow by St. Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, the son of the founder of Moscow Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy. In the 14th century, the icon was transferred to Moscow. Victories of the Russian Army over its occupants have long been attributed to this icon. A number of other old icons are also kept in the Tretyakov Art Gallery, including the famous TrinityRussian: Troitsa or Троица of the 15th century by Andrei Rublevone of the greatest medieval Russian painters of Orthodox icons and frescos.

In the Holy Trinity Church in NikitnikiRussian: khram sv. Troitsy v Nikitnikakh or храм св. Троицы в Никитниках (3, Nikitnikov side strRussian: Nikitnikov pereulok or Никитников переулок), you will find the venerated Georgian Icon of the Mother of God. It was brought to Russia from Persia in the 17th century. A terrible plague epidemic came to an end in Moscow after a prayer service was held in front of the icon. This miraculous day is celebrated every year on 22 August.

A venerated copy of the icon is kept in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Sign”Russian: khram Ikony Bozhiey Materi Znamenie or храм Иконы Божией Матери Знамение (17, 2nd Krestovsky side strRussian: 2-y Krestovskiy pereulok or 2-й Крестовский переулок.). The icon is said to have worked numerous wonders. The patronage of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Sign”Russian: obraz Bogomateri «Znamenie» or образ Богоматери «Знамение» is thought to have secured Veliky Novgorodone of the most important historic cities in Russia during the seizure of 1170. Copies of “The Sign” icon are widespread in Russian churches. The church in Krestovsky side street has a copy which dates back to the 16th century. The icon of St. TryphonRussian: obraz sv. Trifona or образ св. Трифона with a particle of his relics is also kept in the church, and is said to have worked miracles. This church has never been closed down and is famed for its holy atmosphere.

One of the most famous churches in Moscow is the Bogoyavlensky, or Epithany Cathedral in ElakhovoRussian: Bogoyavlenskiy sobor v Yelokhove or Богоявленский собор в Елохове (15, SpartakovskayaRussian: Спартаковская str.). Throughout almost all of the Soviet period (since the 1930s), it was the metropolitan cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The miraculous St. Nikholas IconRussian: ikona sv. Nikolaya or икона св. Николая and the Icon of Our Lady of KazanRussian: Kazanskaya ikona Bozhiey materi or Казанская икона Божией матери are kept in this cathedral. The most venerated of the relics in this cathedral are the relics of Saint Metropolitan Alexis. He was the Metropolitan in Moscow at the turning point of Russian history, not long before Rus’ was released from the power of the Golden Hordea Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century and originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. Alexis campaigned for the unity of the Orthodox Church. He was the actual ruler of Muscovy when Prince Dmitry Donskoy was too young for the job. His relics have been laid to rest in a reliquary. Interestingly, they were transferred to the cathedral in 1947 with the personal consent of Joseph Stalin.

The Voskreseniya Slovushchego Church in Uspensky VrazhekRussian: tserkov' Voskreseniya Slovuschego na Uspenskom vrazhke or церковь Воскресения Словущего на Успенском вражке (15/2 Bryusov side strRussian: Bryusov pereulok or Брюсов переулок.) contains the miraculous icon “In Search of the Perishing”Russian: ikona «Vzyskanie pogibshikh» or икона «Взыскание погибших». It dates back to 1802, having earned fame for numerous wonders and healings. People prone to alcoholism, those facing poverty and other hardships tend to be among those who pray to the icon. The icon is venerated by parents who pray to it for happiness, asking for their children to take a righteous path in life.

It goes without saying that during your visit to Moscow it is impossible to neglect restored Orthodox churches. The Kazan CathedralRussian: Kazanskiy sobor or Казанский собор in Red Square (3, NikolskayaRussian: Никольская str.) was founded in the 17th century. Having been fully destroyed in the 1930s, it was restored to its original state in 1993. Thanks to this church, t is easy to imagine the typical interior decorations and exterior appearance of a church in 17th century Muscovy. It houses a copy of the Icon of Our Lady of KazanRussian: spisok Kazanskoy ikony Bozhiey materi or список Казанской иконы Божией матери.

 

THE SAINTS OF THE Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and other cathedrals

The Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Khram Khrista Spasitelya or Храм Христа Спасителя (15, VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка str.) is considered to be the metropolitan cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was restored at the end of the 20th century. There used to be a cathedral on this site, built by architect K. Tonan official architect of Imperial Russia during the reign of Nicholas I to commemorate the Patriotic War of 1812the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812. Sadly, it 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 1931. The present Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of 10,000 people. Just like the original cathedral, it is profusely decorated with moldings and wall paintings. You can take a guided tour around the cathedral and ascend to the viewing platform on the upper tier. A beautiful view over the centre of Moscow greets you at the top. Important relics are kept in the cathedral, including those of St. Philaret of Moscow and other saints’, parts of the Holy Robe of Christ and the Holy Robe of the Mother of God, a nail from the Holy Cross, the Icon of Our Lady of SmolenskRussian: Smolenskaya ikona Bozhiey Materi or Смоленская икона Божией Матери, the Icon of the Nativity of Our LordRussian: ikona Rozhdestva Khristova or икона Рождества Христова, and others.

The Voskreseniya, or Resurrection Church in SokolnikiRussian: khram Voskreseniya v Sokolnikakh or храм Воскресения в Сокольниках  (6, Sokolnicheskaya squareRussian: Sokolnicheskaya ploschad or Сокольническая площадь) also went through the same fate. It became a place in the east of the capital where relics from churches which suffered during Soviet times were moved. These relics include the Iberian Icon of the Mother of GodRussian: Iverskaya ikona Bogomateri or Иверская икона Богоматери, the ‘Lord’s Passions’ Icon of the Mother of GodRussian: Strastnaya ikona Bogomateri or Страстная икона Богоматери, the Theotocos of BogolyubovoRussian: Bogolyubskaya ikona Bogomateri or Боголюбская икона Богоматери, the Georgian Icon of the Mother of GodRussian: Gruzinskaya ikona Bogomateri or Грузинская икона Богоматери, an icon of Holy PanteleimonRussian: obraz sv. Panteleymona or образ св. Пантелеймона, a reliquary with particles of the forty Sebastian martyrs’ relics and other venerated relics.

One of the most beautiful churches in Moscow is dedicated to Saint John the WarriorRussian: Ioann Voin or Иоанн Воин (46, Bolshaya YakimankaRussian: Большая Якиманка). People in dire straits often pray to this saint. Legend has it that the church was built to the design of Peter the Great himself to commemorate the victory over the Swiss outside Poltava. This church also did not close down either during Soviet rule. Its beautiful decorations is an example of the Moscow baroque style of the early 18th century. A part of the finger of Saint Martyr Barbara, still with a ring on it, is kept in the church altar.

In Moscow, there are the so-called “church embassies”. Those are missions of other Orthodox churches, for instance, the Serbian (Sts. Peter and Paul’s ChurchRussian: tserkov' Petra i Pavla or церковь Петра и Павла, 4-6, Petropavlovsky side strRussian: Petropavlovskiy pereulok or Петропавловский переулок.), mission of the Orthodox Church in America in Moscow (St. Catherine’s Church in OrdynkaRussian: tserkov' sv. Ekateriny na Ordyinke or церковь св. Екатерины на Ордынке, 60/2, Bolshaya Ordynka str.), the Patriarchs’ missions: Antiochian (15a, Archangelsky side strRussian: Arkhangelskiy pereulok or Архангельский переулок.), Aleksandrisky (2, Slavyanskaya squareRussian: Slavyanskaya ploschad or Славянская площадь) and others. In the Jerusalem Patriarch’s mission, the (Voskreseniya Slovushchego ChurchRussian: khram Voskreseniya Slovuschego or храм Воскресения Словущего, 20, Filippovsky side strRussian: Filippovskiy pereulok or Филипповский переулок.) martyr of the 1st century AD St. Eustathius Placidas’s hand is kept together with some rare icons of Jerusalem and Akhtyrka Mother of GodRussian: Ierusalimskaya i Akhtyrskaya ikony Bogomateri or Иерусалимская и Ахтырская иконы Богоматери.

A particular place among the “church embassies” is occupied by the Athos MissionRussian: Afonskoe podvorie or Афонское подворье (6, GoncharnayaRussian: Гончарная str.). It is situated in St. Nicetas’s Church behind the Yauza riverRussian: khram sv. Nikity za Yauzoy or храм св. Никиты за Яузой, but was built in the 16th-17th centuries, high above the Moskva riverRussian: Moskva-reka or Москва-река. The church is one of the most striking examples of medieval architecture in Moscow. The venerated icons of St. Silouan of Athos and St. Great Martyr PanteleimonRussian: ikony sv. Siluana Afonskogo i sv. velikomuchenika Panteleymona or иконы св. Силуана Афонского и св. великомученика Пантелеймона, alongside his relics are kept there. People resort to St. Panteleimon’s help in times of sickness.

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