Voices from Russia

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Patriarch Aleksei Performed the Great Blessing of the Waters at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow

Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Moscow and all the Russias performed the great Blessing of the Waters in the lower chapel of the Transfiguration in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Friday morning after the completion of the liturgy on the eve of Epiphany. During the service of blessing, portions of the biblical prophets and the Gospel were read, describing the baptism of our Lord Christ in the Jordan by St John the Baptist. The tropar {Editor: “theme” hymn of a church feast} of the Epiphany was sung in anticipation of the holiday to come tomorrow. At the conclusion of the service, Patriarch Aleksei and Bishop Aleksandr of Dmitrov (his patriarchal vicar) went amongst the gathered faithful and sprinkled them copiously with the holy water that they blessed during the rite. After this, the people came forward to the large vat in the front of the chapel to collect holy water for their own use. In the chapel vestibule, church employees handed out holy water in plastic cups to all who desired it. In his holiday sermon, His Holiness noted that “Our Lord, by his baptism in the Jordan, blessed and established this great sacrament, through which we become members of the Church of Christ. Through this sacrament, if it’s done in infancy, we acquire one of the properties that permeate our entire lives, our given names”. He then wished that all believers would “regard highly and uphold firmly the exalted title of Orthodox Christian we all received through holy baptism”.

18 January 2008

Interfax-Religion

www.interfax.ru

There shall be 37 “Official” Holes in the Ice for Epiphany Dipping In Moscow

Filed under: church/state,Orthodox life,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

afpbelarus-weather-epiphany.jpg

Yevgeny Bobylev, the chief of the press service for Moscow of the Ministry for Emergency Situations (MES), reported to Interfax on Friday that the traditional outdoor dipping in holes chopped in the ice shall be organised at 37 locations in the capital region. At six of the locations, located near permanent rescue stations, the MES shall regulate the affair according to standing rules. In particular, these rules apply near the station on Lake Bezdonnoe in the Serebyanoy Bor preserve, on the reservoir in Kuntsevo raion (where there shall be three holes hacked in the ice), at the river station in the northern suburbs, and in Kosino Raion. Specialists from the MES inspected other locations and determined that there are 31 other places (22 near existing rescue stations) where it’s suitable to chop holes in the ice for outdoor dipping on Epiphany. The MES shall have rescuers and divers on duty at these sites. The rescuers shall have special equipment, aqua lungs, and heated diving suits. In all, the MES expects to assign 138 personnel to this duty. In addition, air cushion vehicles shall be on call in case of emergency.

18 January 2008

Interfax-Religion

www.interfax.ru

Editor’s note:

What about the “unofficial” holes? Are the cops going to drag all unsanctioned dippers at “unauthorised” sites to the Butyrki?  I think not… sanity does prevail in the rodina, after all… there’s no PC there! No doubt, though, the partakers at “roll your own” locations are going to get a “prophylactic chat” from both the cops and the priests about risking their lives foolishly… s Prazdnikom to all you on Epiphany! 😀

BMD


The Valdivostok to Moscow Cross Procession has Covered 6,000 Kilometres From May to Epiphany

Filed under: Christian,church in society,inspirational,Orthodox life,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Participants in the longest religious procession in the world, from Vladivostok to Moscow, have reached Novosibirsk on Epiphany, having covered some 6,000 kilometres (3,728 miles). The procession on foot continues its movement over the Russian land, not being deterred by the severe cold of the Siberian winter. Additional elements joined the march on 14 January, when the temperature in Novosibirsk oblast was -42 degrees Celsius (-43 Fahrenheit). By 7 February, the marchers intend to be in Omsk Oblast. The sacred objects of the procession, which is sponsored under the auspices of the international spiritual education programme “Under the Star of the Mother of God”, were deposited in the Church of the New Martyrs of Russia in Novosibirsk, where the pilgrims have 24-hour access. These holy things include wonder-working icons of the Mother of God of Kazan and the Sovereign Mother of God, an ancient cross, relics from churches and monasteries in Moscow and Pskov, and relics from monasteries in Jordanville (USA), Cyprus, Jerusalem (Convent of St Maria Magdalene), and Athos (Khiliandar). The cross procession is organised by the Russian Athos Society and by the St Andrew’s Flag Fund. The march is dedicated to the reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church and has the intent of strengthening the self-consciousness of Russian nation, rallying the peoples of Russia, and reinforcing the collaboration of secular and religious forces. The plans of the organisers include eight separate processions from Vladivostok, Barnaul, Rostov-on-the-Don, Jerusalem, Athos, St Petersburg, and Arkhangelsk. These symbolise the eight-pointed star of the Mother of God, and they shall meet on 10 June in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

18 January 2008

Interfax-Religion

www.interfax.ru

Russian Bells Hang in the Belfries of the Holy Land in Palestine

Filed under: Christian,Orthodox life,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

At end of 2007, a group of Russian bell-ringers visited the Holy Land where they made many discoveries. Igor Konovalov, the chairman of the Society of Church Bell-ringers and the chief bell-ringer in the Moscow Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour gave an interview to Interfax where spoke of the significance of his finds for Russian culture and for academic studies of bells and bell-ringing.

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Interfax

What surprising things did find out in the Holy Land?

Igor Konovalov

I’ve studied bells and bellringing for some thirty years now, and during our visit to the Holy Land in November and December 2007, I found out some surprising facts. In practically every belfry, be they Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox (both Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR), or foreign ones, old Russian bells hang and sound out. Most of these bells were cast from the 1860s to the beginning of the twentieth century. The greatest number of these bells was produced at the foundry of Andrei Samgin in Moscow, which was located on the site of the present Sklifosovsky Hospital. I was able to inspect and study the largest bell in the Holy Land, the six-ton bell at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This bell is rung during the ceremony of the Holy Fire on Easter. There are ten more bells of pre-Revolutionary Russian manufacture in the belfry there, and all were cast at the Samgin foundry.

The second most significant site I visited was the Ascension Convent on the Mount of Olives. The belfry is known as the “Russian candlestick”, and it’s a local landmark. I was struck by the fact that the bells have exact copies of the reliefs found on the bells of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. These are beautiful bells, second only to ones at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It brought back to my mind that I was able to participate in the restoration of the bells at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Indeed, my sketches were the basis for the new bells. Here, I saw the originals for my design, on Russian bells in the Holy Land. We searched old photographs, and we studied the reliefs of the Large Kremlin Palace, because they were executed under the supervision of Konstantin Ton, the architect of the original Cathedral of Christ the Saviour {Editor: blown up in 1934 by the communists}. We cast the new bells for the restored Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 1997, but we were disappointed that we could not catch all the detail in the faded old snapshots. But, here… we saw what the bells of the old cathedral looked like in reality. It was a large collection of bells in two belfries, in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on the grounds of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission and in the Mount of Olives Convent.

We were also able to study the bells of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. We were pleased to find out that some of the bells here were of Russian manufacture. One weighed some 2.5 metric tons and was cast at the Samgin foundry, whilst another weighed some 800 kilogrammes (1,760 pounds) and was cast at the Vasilevoy foundry in St Petersburg, the same plant that cast the bells for the Cathedral of St Isaac. Yet another bell came from Rostov-on-the-Don, and some small bells from the Nikolai Olovyanishikov foundry in Yaroslavl. Thus, several bells ring out for Russia from one of the most ancient churches dedicated to the birth of Christ. On the grounds of the residence of the Patriarch of Jerusalem one sees a broken bell from the Samgin foundry ornamented with icons. It is kept as a holy relic; it stands on a high pedestal in a prominent place. In addition, we now have several projects in the Holy Land for new bells.

Interfax

Do you plan to publish the results of your studies?

Igor Konovalov

Yes, we plan to publish a catalogue on the bells of the Holy Land; we have collected the necessary information. We already understand what sort of Russian bells were popular, what sort were chosen for the Holy Land. These bells were a gift from the Russian people, from the imperial family, merchants, the bourgeoisie, and the peasants. They wrote their names on them and sent their gifts on steamships to adorn the Greek and Russian churches of the Holy Land. These inscriptions tell us much.

Interfax

Have we rediscovered the old secrets of the bells in today’s Russia?

Igor Konovalov

The Russian science of Campanology (study of bells and bell-ringing) only began at the end of the nineteenth century, just before we lost over 90 percent of our bells in the communist repressions. We suffered irreplaceable losses during the time of the Bolshevik persecution. The formal study of bells, thus, isn’t complete. However, we note with satisfaction that a museum of bells was created in the Izmailovsky kremlin that spreads information on the Russian bells that were sent to Greece, Athos, and the Holy Land. The bell ensembles that remained intact in Russia can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Let’s see… Rostov Veliky, the Pskov-Pechersky Monastery, Vologda… only a few places. Moreover, there isn’t one completely preserved bell ensemble in Moscow. During the persecutions of the church in the first half of the twentieth century and during the “Khrushchev thaw” in the 1960s, many bells were removed and destroyed by being melted down for their metal. The bell foundries were destroyed so thoroughly that, in Yaroslavl, local folklore experts still argue over the precise location of the site of the Nikolai Olovyanishikov foundry. In the late nineteenth century, this plant was the third-largest bell foundry in Russia, after the “Finland” and Samgin establishments in Moscow, if one measures things by the volume of production. We can say the same of the “Finland” and Samgin foundries.

We in the Society of Church Bell-ringers are able to visualise the lost bells by studying old Russian bells in the Holy Land, Bulgaria, Serbia, Mt Athos, and the USA. We took photographs, we scrupulously inspected and studied the bells themselves, and we took profiles. At Harvard, we used special rubber moulds to obtain copies of reliefs and inscriptions. This helped us to recreate a lost part of Russian culture. In our time, it was necessary to restore our stock of bells virtually from scratch. At first, we cast very bad bells. Then, we became slightly better… but, not by much. By degrees, we have improved our bell casting. Now, there are eight plants producing bells, and many of them use the results of our studies. Today, the Society works with five foundries. In particular, we participated in the restoration of the bells of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, and the special Harvard project was realised under our direct management.

Interfax

Would you describe to us the plans of the Society of Bell-ringers in 2008?

Igor Konovalov

This year is the 500th anniversary of the Belfry of Ivan Veliki, and most of this year shall be taken up with events surrounding this occasion. In 2009, we plan to publish a book, first, in an Internet version, then, in print, on the Russian bells of the nineteenth century that were preserved outside of the borders of Russia. It shall cover bells found in the Holy Land, Athos, Tallinn, and other places. On Mt Athos, we gathered at Easter time to study the Russian bells extant there. Russian bells are indeed present, some are still sounding, some are cast to the ground, some are broken, but, nevertheless, each of these bells is a monument. At the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon, there is one of the heaviest bells on Athos. It weighs some 13 metric tons. This bell was given to the monastery during the reign of Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich. At present, the Society only has photographs of the bell, and no formal study of it has been done. We intend to fill this gap.

11 January 2008

Interfax-Religion

www.interfax.ru

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