Voices from Russia

Sunday, 13 December 2015

13 December 2015. Yolka at Kazan Cathedral in Piter

00 christmas tree st petersburg 131215

“2016 To the New Year and the Nativity of Christ”


Literally, “Yolka” in Russian means “fir-tree”… it has no relation to Christmas at all. Ergo, the best “Englishing” of this would be “Holiday Tree”, as it mostly symbolises the secular holiday of the New Year.



Saturday, 13 July 2013

Thousands Queue In Russia to See Religious Relic

00 Cross of St Andrew. St Petersburg, Kazan Cathedral. 13.07.13


On Saturday, officials said that around 65,000 people queued for hours in St Petersburg to see a religious relic brought from Greece, in the latest sign of the Orthodox Church’s influence in post-Soviet Russia. The Cross of St Andrew… said to be a relic of the X-shaped cross on which Apostle St Andrew the First-Called was crucified… was placed in St Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral (Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God) on Thursday after arriving from its historic home in Patras in Greece. A representative of the Foundation of St Andrew the First-Called, which helped bring the cross to Russia, told RIA-Novosti that there were some 65,000 visitors in just the first days of its display, and that the numbers are increasing all the time.

The cross came from Greece as part of commemorations of the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism of the mediaeval Slavic state of Rus. The queue to see the relic snaked all around the cathedral with the faithful having to wait for several hours to venerate the relic. Local officials said that the atmosphere in the queue was cheerful. Tatiana Koroliova, 60, told AFP, “It’s a great event for all Orthodox. I came especially to St Petersburg from my house in the country which is 200 kilometres (125 miles) away”. The excitement recalls the frenzy that surrounded the appearance of the Belt of the Virgin Mary in Russia in 2011… also on loan from Greece… which attracted gigantic queues when it arrived in Moscow.

The communists suppressed the Orthodox Church, but it’s staged an astonishing recovery in post-Soviet Russia to become one of the country’s most powerful institutions. Symbolically, the Cross of St Andrew cross is being shown in the Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg, which under Communism was a museum of atheism. However, the anti-Kremlin opposition accused the Orthodox Church under its powerful Patriarch Kirill of meddling in politics and instigating the harsh treatment of the Pussy Riot punk group. Two members of the punk collective are serving two-year prison colony terms for performing an anti-Kremlin song inside a Moscow church, in a case that divided Russian society. The relic is due to stay in St Petersburg until Monday, and then be taken to Kiev in the Ukraine, Minsk in Belarus, and to the Russian capital of Moscow before returning to Greece on 2 August.

13 July 2013



Editor’s Note:

The journey of the Cross of St Andrew is so “newsy” that even the Western press agencies are covering it. Take all Western reportage on the Rodina with a block of salt… much of it is nothing but meretricious and lying pro-crapitalist propaganda (especially, mistrust “Orthodox” lickspittles such as Sophia Kishkovsky and Serge Schmemann… they’ve sold out for the proverbial “mess of pottage“). Look at the inclusion of a blurb on Pussy Riot… most Russians don’t give a shit about these zapadniki poseurs… only a small English-speaking minority in Piter and the Centre do… and the clueless Westerners just eat it all up. However, don’t argue with Amerikantsy idiots about it… it’ll do you no good, it’ll just frustrate you to no good end, and it’ll just drive the Fox News propaganda deeper into your interlocutor’s (shallow) mind. Do mind this, though… the worst, most fanatic, and most closed-minded Amerikantsy are found amongst the “Orthodox” konvertsy… fancy that. Have a care…


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Wonderworking Icon of Kazan of the Most Holy Mother of God

On 4 November, Orthodox believers commemorate the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, one of the most venerated icons in Russia. The icon was discovered in the town of Kazan 25 years after Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible conquered the hostile Tartar state of Kazan. Christianity was gradually taking root in the Islamic town of Kazan and, probably, to consolidate the Orthodox faith, God revealed a miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. Once, there was a fire in Kazan and half of the town was destroyed. A house of a strelets (a regular soldier of a special regiment in the 16th and 17th centuries) burnt to the ground. When the man decided to build a new house, his 9-year-old daughter, Matrona, saw the Birthgiver in a dream. The Mother of God demanded that the town authorities and the clergy dig out Her icon in the place She indicated. The girl told the dream to her mother, but she didn’t pay much attention to her daughter’s words. The dream came again, however. Only when the Birthgiver appeared in Matrona’s dream for the third time did her mother, along with Matrona, go to the clergy and told them about it. Then, the mother and the daughter began digging in the place indicated by the Mother of God, and they found an icon wrapped in a sleeve of some old clothing. The icon was undamaged, without a single dark spot. People rushed to the icon, they prayed and kissed it reverently. The clergy served moliebens and the icon was placed in the Annunciation Cathedral. On that very day, two blind men were miraculously cured. As became known later, the icon was a replica of the miracle-working icon of the Virgin traditionally attributed to St Luke and kept in Constantinople. Following the order of the Tsar, a church and a convent in the honour of Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God were built on the site where they had found the icon. Matrona, the girl who saw the Virgin in her dreams, was the first novice to be initiated into the convent.

Prior to 1612, the Kazan Icon was a locally venerated icon, and a feast in its honour was established on the day it revealed itself, 21 July. In the early 17th century, Russia went through the Smuta, the Time of Troubles. Secular state power was very weak. As a result, Polish invaders seized Moscow. St Germogen, the Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, who was then in prison, appealed to the nation. He called for unity in the struggle against the invaders. He also gave instructions that people should bring the Kazan Icon to Moscow. On the eve of the decisive battle, the clergy served a molieben before the wonder-working icon. After fierce battles, the opolchenie drove the Polish invaders out of the capital. To mark the event, Tsar Mikhail Romanov established a second holiday in the honour of the Kazan Icon on 4 November. Later, the Kazan Cathedral was built on Red Square to house the icon. Destroyed in Soviet times, the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1990s.

From that time on, the Kazan Icon saved Russia more than once. For instance, in 1941, during the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, the Virgin appeared to Metropolitan Ilya of the Antiochian Church, who prayed wholeheartedly for Russia. She instructed him to tell the Russians that they should carry the Kazan Icon in a religious procession around the besieged city of Leningrad (now St Petersburg). Then, the Virgin said, they should serve a molieben before the icon in Moscow. The Virgin said that the icon should stay with the Russian troops in Stalingrad, and later move with them to the Russian border. Leningrad didn’t surrender. Miraculously, Moscow was also saved. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the icon was with the Russian army on the right bank of the Volga, and the Nazi troops couldn’t cross the river. The Battle of Stalingrad began with a molieben before the Kazan Icon. Only when it was finished, did the troops receive the order to attack. The Kazan Icon was at the most important sectors of the front, and in the places where the troops were preparing for an offensive. It was like in the old times, when in response to earnest prayers, the Virgin instilled fear in enemies and drove them away. Even atheists told stories of the Virgin’s help to the Russian troops. During the assault on Königsberg in 1945, the Soviet troops were in a critical situation. Suddenly, the soldiers saw their commander arrive with priests and an icon. Many made jokes, “Just wait, that’ll help us!” The commander silenced the jokers. He ordered everybody to line up and to take off their caps. When the priests finished the molieben, they moved to the frontline carrying the icon. The amazed soldiers watched them going straight forward, under intense Nazi fire. Suddenly, the Nazis stopped shooting. Then, the Russian troops received orders to attack on the ground and from the sea. Nazis died in the thousands. Nazi prisoners told the Russians that they saw the Virgin in the sky before the Russians began to attack, the whole of the Nazi army saw Her, and their weapons wouldn’t fire. Today, the Orthodox Church also turns to the Virgin in any difficulty. We say, “Our Lady and intercessor, pray to God for us!”

2 November 2006

Lyubov Tsarevskaya

This is Russia

Voice of Russia World Service


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