Pilgrimage to Ukraine
|Michaylovsky Golden-Domed Cathedral|
Nine memorable days in the holy Kievan land have been granted by God to the sisters of the abode and the priest accompanying them. The schedule was very tight; every day brought an encounter with a new relic. Just the tour of the Kiev cathedrals took the whole day, keeping in mind that the travelers were shown only the most famous ones: Mikhailovsky Golden-Domed, Andreyevskiy, and Vladimirsky cathedrals, the temple of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, which is called the Eighth Wonder of the World. They have also visited the location of the legendary Desyatinnaya church built in the X century by St. Vladimir the Baptizer of Russia, and have gone to several city monasteries.
Florovsky monastery is located in the lower part of Kiev, Podol. It is distinguished by following the tradition of self-sustaining as opposed to the communal tradition. Pokrovsky monastery was memorable because of the history of its inception: it was founded in the end of the XIX century by the great princess Alexandra Petrovna who took monastic vows under the name of Anastasia in this abode. Common folk called her the Great Matushka, and she truly was great not so much in her name and the nobility of her family but in her true humility and selfless love for all the suffering who flocked to her abode and found shelter, medical help and, of course, spiritual consolation there. In Vvedensky monastery our pilgrims venerated the wonderworking icon "Look Down on Humility" which was miraculously imprinted on the glass.
|View from the caves to the Kitayevsky hermitage|
Kiev is a wonderfully picturesque and multifaceted city. Splendor and gracefulness of the central cathedrals coexist beautifully with the peaceful seclusion of the abodes that bear the name of "hermitages"... Having come into a hermitage, you cannot believe that you are within the precincts of the city: next to the church and several low buildings are shaded ponds; terraces twined around with grapes; the forest comes from all sides. Next to the hermitage is Feofania which is called Kievan Jerusalem, as well as several water springs that are considered healing. The Kitayevskaya hermitage and the Tserkovshchina skete attract one also because they were founded near the ancient caves dug in the mountains. The Kitayevo is famous with its two pious hermits: the holy blessed Feofil of Kiev (who has become somehow specialy close and dear to our pilgrims) lived here in the XIX century, and a century earlier holy Dosifea concealed under a man's name spent her secluded life here in the Kitayevsky caves.
The pilgrims also went to the ancient city of Chernigov that has preserved to our days the Antonian caves and several churches built in the XI-XIII centuries. In this city, the historical center has been wisely left almost untouched, which creates the impression of getting into a totally different epoch where even time flows differently. In the Pochayevskaya Lavra the pilgrims prayed at the All-Night Vigil and Liturgy, and they venerated the greatest pan-Orthodox relics: the miracle-working Pochayevskaya icon; to the trace of the foot left by the Most Holy Virgin; and to the relics of holy Iov and Amfilokhiy of Pochayev.
|In the Lavra|
But of course, the pilgrims received the deepest impression from the caves of the Kievan-Cave Lavra. Three times on extent of the several days of their pilgrimage they would visit Lavra: they could not get enough of its atmosphere and, having come back, they were telling that now they understand why in the canon to St. John of Tobolsk in whose honor our church in the skete is named, it is written: "The Kievan-Cave Lavra has captivated you wholly"... It is difficult to find words to convey their impressions, thus we shall resort to the travel notes led by our pilgrims in Kiev: "We have come to Lavra early, the day was only breaking. Lavra is a whole city: we were walking, and on the sides towered huge thick walls, then front gardens, then churches; now we are descending, now again climbing up the hill; now walking on paved streets and alleys. We have come to the Far Caves for the early Liturgy.
The Caves are like a heart, everything is so alive, so good there, one doesn't want to leave! You are standing in a small cave church, there are low arches, and about twenty people praying. There is a sense of wonder: you are in the thick of earth pierced with passages dug by the hands of the holy fathers, and they themselves are near. Reposed here are so many saints who are a hundredfold times more alive in the Spirit then you yourself are, standing by their relics"...
|Holy Trinity Ioninsky monastery
There is one more place in Kiev that our pilgrims have deeply fallen in love with: the Holy Trinity Iona's monastery has received them under their hospitable roof. It is the youngest of all Kievan monasteries and, no doubt, one of the most well-equipped ones. "There is a clear sensation, - we read in the travel notes, - that this place is very much akin to us. Everything gladdens here: the location, the beauty of the church, the stately services, harmonious choir, the clear chanting. Among the monastery's brethren there is peace, unanimity, and genuine love"... Actually, the trip itself was of the same nature namely due to the cares of the abbot of this abode, archimandrite Iona, who saved our pilgrims completely from all the cares.
|In the tomb of St. Iona|
Unexpectedly for ourselves, but, of course, not without a special provision of God, the guests from the Ural arrived to Ukraine namely on the day of commemoration of St. Iona of Kiev, the founder and the heavenly protector of the abode that received them. Elder Iona, the disciple of St. Seraphim of Sarov, the doer of the prayer of the heart and a humble man with the gift of foresight who had been honored by the appearances of the Lord and the Mother of God, is truly the living intercessor of all who work at his abode and those who visit it; his presence here is invisible but one feels it.
Only few of the pilgrims visiting Ioninsky monastery know that not far from the abode there is another great Kievan relic - the ancient Zverinetsky caves that are no younger than the Kievan-Caves Lavra. Here rest the relics and myrrh-giving heads of the holy fathers who lived here in the Michael-Archangel abode of the caves in the X-XIII centuries. Only a few names of the Zverinetsky hermits have been preserved, cut out above the altar table in the tiny cave church. Ioninsky monastery is the preserver of this relic.
What concerns the word "schism" which our pilgrims would often hear both from the parishioners, and from the tour-guide, of course, this could not leave them unhurt. But very soon they noticed that the faithful children of the Church have neither fear of the schism, nor despondency; that they live a full and rich church life something by which they confess the truth of Orthodoxy better than by any words. But what can be said of those who through their pride have separated themselves from the Church? For if the Lord Himself opposes the proud, who will help them?
Some pictures are taken from the site of Ioninsky monastery
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