St Herman's Pilgrimage To Russia
After much prayer and preparation, a group of seven pilgrims ventured off to Russia for a two week tour of the holy sites in and around St Peterburg and Moscow.
The group consisted of: Titus and Susan Bradley, Paul and Cathy Kozachenko, Martha Nichols (a dear friend from Oregon), Fr Martin and Matushka Sarah.
We started in St Petersburg, where we toured and prayed in the main cathedrals and churches of that city including: St Isaac’s, the Kazan Cathedral, the Church on the Spilled Blood, St Nicholas’ Naval Cathedral, etc. We visited the Smolenskaya Cemetery where St Xenia’s relics repose. There, we were able to sing her Akathist. Likewise, at St John of Rila Monastery, we venerated the relics of St John of Kronstadt and were able to sing his Akathist. We took a day trip to Kronstadt, where we toured the apartments of St John and visited the enormous Naval Cathedral there. In addition to the holy sites, we toured the Hermitage Museum and Galleries, the Faberge Gallery, the parks and fountains at Peterhof, and enjoyed a boat ride seeing this beautiful city from its waterways. On the weekend, Fr Martin was blessed to serve Vigil and Liturgy at the Kazan Cathedral - celebrating their feast day.
Taking the speed train from St Petersburg, we arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, July 23rd. Our hotels in both cities were very centrally located – in Moscow we were just off the Arbat Street, a very popular pedestrian street with many shops, restaurants, street artists, etc. In Moscow, we again visited the many churches and cathedrals including: Christ the Savior, St Basil’s, the churches of the Kremlin, and numerous churches throughout the neighborhoods. We visited beautiful and holy monasteries including: Novodevichiy, Sretensky, St Elizabeth’s Mary and Martha Convent, St Sergius’ Trinity Lavra, and an unforgettable day trip to Optina Pustyn. We toured the Tretyakov Gallery where we viewed ancient icons including Rublev’s Holy Trinity and the Vladimir Mother of God.
Everywhere we went, we were greeted with genuine warmth and kindness. We had so many encounters with people who knew and loved St John of San Francisco… when they found out we were from California, they were very excited and interested. Fr Martin had been equipped with many bottles of holy oil from St John, so handing these out as gifts and blessings was a tremendous joy and forged spiritual closeness with many.
Speaking with our group of pilgrims, we have all expressed how hard it is to process all that we saw and did, and to understand the deep impressions that have been made upon us all. It was a truly blessed spiritual pilgrimage and it has left an indelible mark on us all.
We are in the process of sorting through the many, many photos taken and intend to have a ‘show and tell’ presentation for the parish in the very near future.
May God grant that the grace-filled experiences of this trip be stored like a treasure in our hearts and that they bear fruit for us and for those with whom we may share our adventures.