The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
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Rejoice, o all ye saints of the land of Ekaterinburg!

Not so long ago in the church calendar appeared a new feast -- the Synaxis of the saints of Ekaterinburg, poetically named in the akathystus "a beautiful constellation of the Russian Church in heaven." The celebration of this Synaxis is on February 11th.

Our patrons

Ask any citizen of Ekaterinburg, even a zealous parishioner: which saint out of the saints of the Ural land does he know? He will name about a dozen names at best, whereas in reality there are over sixty of them. Moreover, to know which saints sanctify your lesser fatherland, through whose prayers it is being preserved -- is the duty of every Orthodox Christian. The general feast of all the saints of Ekaterinburg makes the Ural citizens ponder: who are they, the heavenly patrons of our land? And having learned about their life and spiritual feat, to become inspired with faith in them. Next happens that about which holy righteous John of Kronstadt wrote: "First, I will see my helpers through the faith of my heart, then I will implore them -- invisibly, but distinctly for myself; and then, having received the invisible help, I simultaneously obtain a strong conviction that this help has come namely from them." In this way, the connection of the earthly and the heavenly Church gets strengthened, in this way the words of St. Ephrem the Syrian that the saints make the earth heaven, come true.

Also some of the famous hierarchs spoke about how important it is to venerate one's local saints. For instance, prelate Afanasiy (Sakharov) who had special love for the Russian saints, composed an extensive report the title of which speaks for itself: "About the strengthening and legalization of diocesan celebrations in honor local saints." It is remarkable that the report was delivered by him in 1918, and namely since that time the persecutions against the Church, comparable only to the horrendous persecutions of the first centuries, begin. Russian land sprinkled with the martyrs' blood, gains thousands of new patrons -- neo-martyrs and confessors. A special emphasis should be made here. The Russian Church is now being restored through the prayers of the neo-martyrs, and yet, their spiritual feat is not well known to our compatriots. Namely because of that, the celebration of the Synaxes in the dioceses is so greatly important and significant in our days. At the beginning, the members of the diocesan committee on the canonization -- namely, the nuns of our monastery, were preparing the documents for the canonization of the neo-martyrs of the Ekaterinburg diocese. Over 50 saints have been canonized. The believers in the Urals knew almost nothing about their lives, and in 2008, through the initiative of the ruling hierarch, a book "The Lives of the Saints of Ekaterinburg Diocese" was published. The thought about creating a Synaxis was inevitably coming to mind, and in the spring of 2010, the committee on the canonization of the saints began preparing the necessary documents.

The preparation of the documents took very little time. That was only the final act: main work was being conducted on extent of all the preceding years, when, actually, the Synaxis was being "gathered." The members of the committee remember those years as the time of great joys and great difficulties. The hardest thing was looking for the information about the neo-martyrs, and this information was being collected literally grain by grain. Oftentimes, neither the great-grandchildren, nor the grandchildren know nothing about the life of the martyr, for the "enemies of the people" could only be mentioned in a whisper. Were the Soviet people proud of their close relative, a priest, who suffered for the faith, or would they try to preserve family legends about his life? This is a rhetorical question.

So much more precious has been the help of people who gather information about their relatives murdered for their faith. At times, unexpectedly for themselves, people learn that there were saints in their family. Sergey Nikolayevich Popov, a grаnd-nephew of two hieromartyrs, told the nuns how he was brought up in atheism, like many people of his generation: "Only faith in communism and our communist leaders would be ingrained in us." Not long ago, however, having seriously dived into his family's genealogy, he discovered that at least four generations in his family are clergy members. Later on he learned that two of his grand-uncles -- Konstantin and Alexander Popov -- have been canonized with the saints. "When I learned about how my relatives-priests died, -- recalls Sergey Nikolayevich, -- I started looking closely at their calm spiritual faces on old family pictures, thinking sorrowfully, how many innocent souls were killed in those cruel times." It turned out that his wife's grandfather, Pyotr Krylov, was a priest, too, who also died at the time of persecutions. Sergey Nikolayevich gave the copies of the photographs to the history office, and this has been an unexpected and very valuable help for the nuns.

An interesting story is connected also with the hieromartyr Ardalion (Ponomaryov). The nuns learned about Fr. Ardalion from the book of his granddaughter Olga. His highly spiritual life and faithfulness to Christ were unquestionable, but for the canonization, the circumstances of the archmandrite's death had to be known. Olga tried to find out where he had been exiled, but all her efforts were in vain. The nuns also sent out letters into a variety of instances, and, finally, the long-awaited answer came from one of them: after his sentence, archmandrite Ardalion was sent to Kotlas, then to Vorkuta. The hagiography of archmandrite Ardalion was sent to the Synodal committee, and soon he was glorified as a hieromartyr. "The beautiful constellation of the Russian Church in heaven" has added one more star. By the way, Olga is also a granddaughter of two saints: her mother's father, hieromartyr Sergiy Uvitsky, was canonized five years ago. "When I think about it, I feel how unworty I am, -- she says, -- and at the same time I feel their help, their protection."

The Synaxis includes the names of 64 saints from the XVII-XX centuries, whose life of spiritual feats and martyrdom is directly connected with the Ekaterinburg diocese. Among them are the Royal Passion-bearers, holy martyrs great princess Elisabeth and nun Varvara, holy righteous Simeon of Verkhoturye, saint Vasilisk of Siberia, blessed Kosma and Ioann of Verkhoturye... And yet, certainly, the biggest part of the Synaxis are the neo-martyrs and confessors. The date for celebrating the Synaxis was chosen the day of the formation of Ekaterinburg diocese -- February 11th.

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