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Pilgrimage of Orthodox in Russia

You can read two reviews devoted to Orthodox monasteries and churches in Russia on the website Geomerid. This review of "Pilgrimage in Russia" describes monasteries and churches where the relics of the most revered Orthodox Saints or the most revered icons are placed. Thousands of pilgrims come to worship them every year.

Another review is called "Monasteries of Russia". They are also visited by many people, but their value is more historical and cultural. For example, these are monasteries included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Lists. These are monasteries where valuable frescoes are painted. These are monasteries that are associated with important historical events that took place in Russia.

For example, in the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma, Mikhail Romanov was called to the throne in 1613. He was the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty. The Ganina Pit Monastery in Yekaterinburg is located on the site where the Bolsheviks in 1918 dumped the bodies of the executed members of the royal family into an abandoned mine. They were the last of the Romanov dynasty. 

Orthodox believers in Russia most often visit the following monasteries and churches on pilgrimage trips: 

1.    Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (Moscow region)
2.    Diveyevsky Monastery (Nizhny Novgorod reg)
3.    Pokrovsky Monastery of St. Matrona (Moscow)
4.    Optina Pustyn Monastery (Kaluga region)
5.    Chapel of Xenia the Blessed (St. Petersburg)
6.    St. John's Monastery (St. Petersburg)
7.    Pskov-Pechersk Lavra (Pskov region)
8.    Kazan Cathedral (St. Petersburg)
9.    Tikhvin Monastery (Tikhvin)
10.    Trinity Monastery (Murom)

Follow the hyperlinks to read in detail about each monastery and see a large number of photos

Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (Moscow region)

The Trinity-Sergius Lavra is located 80 kilometers north-east of Moscow. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the most important spiritual centers (Monastery) of the country have the status of "Lavra". There are two such monasteries in Russia: the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in the Moscow region and the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. However, the main spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church is considered to be the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Trinity-Sergius Lavra was founded in 1337 by St. Sergius of Radonezh. He is the most revered Saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. Sergius was born in a family of noble boyars from the city of Rostov. His parents' names were Kirill and Mary. Later, they moved to the village of Radonezh, in the north of the Moscow region. Here the boy Bartholomew was born. In 1337, Kirill and Mary, at a very respectable age, took monastic vows at the Pokrovsky Monastery in Khotkovo, but almost immediately died.

Bartholomew and his brother Stefan settled in the forest on the Makovets hill, 10 kilometers from the Khotkovsky monastery. Bartholomew became the monk Sergius. Other monks began to gather around them. Sergius of Radonezh (Sergius of the village of Radonezh) became the abbot of the monastery, which was named after the Trinity. Soon the monastery became the spiritual center of the Russian land. It was a difficult period of feudal fragmentation of the country. Sergius of Radonezh urged the princes to fight together against the Mongol-Tatar yoke. He was called "The Spiritual collector of the Russian Land", "The Guardian Angel of Russia".

In 1380, Prince Dmitry Donskoy came with his army to the monastery, so that Sergius of Radonezh blessed them before the battle on Kulikovo Field with the army of Khan Mamai. In 1392, Sergius of Radonezh died. His relics are placed in the Trinity Cathedral of the monastery and every year thousands of people make pilgrimage trips to them.

Since the 15th century, the construction of stone churches began in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. In 1422, the Trinity Cathedral was built, which now houses the relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh. By the 16th century, the monastery had become a powerful fortress. It withstood the siege during the intervention of Polish troops at the beginning of 17th century. Now dozens of churches and buildings have been built in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.

Seraphim-Diveyevsky Monastery (Nizhny Novgorod region)

Seraphim-Diveyevsky Monastery is located in the Nizhny Novgorod region in the village of Diveyevo, 180 kilometers south of Nizhny Novgorod. Arzamas is the nearest town to the Diveyevsky Monastery.

Seraphim-Diveyevsky Monastery was founded in 1760 by the Russian nun Alexandra, but it became famous throughout Russia thanks to the service of Seraphim of Sarov, who is one of the most revered Saints in Russia.

In the Orthodox tradition, there is a legend about the four earthly destinies of the Holy Virgin. The first destiny is considered to be ancient Iberia (now it is Georgia), where the Mother of God was supposed to go with the apostolic ministration. The second destiny was Mount Athos in Greece. The third destiny is the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra in Kiev. Alexandra was a nun of this monastery when she had a vision of the Holy Virgin. She blessed her to go to the north of Russia to establish a new monastery in Diveyevo, which she designated as her fourth Earthly destiny.

Seraphim Sarovsky was born in 1754 in Kursk in the family of a rich merchant. In 1776, he made a pilgrimage to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where he was blessed to become a monk of the Sarov Monastery in the Nizhny Novgorod province. Saint Seraphim settled in a cell in the forest near the monastery and prayed a lot. In 1793, he became a hieromonk and confessor of the Diveyevo convent.

Seraphim died in 1833, and in 1903 he was canonized as St. Seraphim of Sarov and All Russia the Wonderworker. In the last years of his life, the Mother of God appeared to Seraphim, ordered him to take a hoe and draw a Groove near the Seraphim-Diveyevsky Monastery along the path where she passed.

As the nuns of the monastery recalled: "Father Seraphim said a lot of wonderful things about this Groove, here were the feet of the Holy Virgin. This land was taken as an destiny by the Queen of Heaven Herself. And as soon as the Antichrist comes, he will pass everywhere, but he will not jump over this Groove". Everyone who comes to the monastery on a pilgrimage trip, be sure to pass along the Groove of the Holy Virgin.

The Trinity Cathedral of the Seraphim-Diveyevsky Monastery was built in the middle of the 19th century. It contains a shrine with the relics of St. Seraphim. Also in the monastery there is a large Transfiguration Cathedral, the Annunciation Cathedral and several churches.

Pokrovsky Monastery of St. Matrona (Moscow)

The Pokrovsky Monastery of St. Matrona of Moscow is located near Taganskaya Square. It was founded in 1635 by Tsar Mikhail Romanov, in memory of his father, Patriarch Filaret. However, it became known thanks to the Holy Matron of Moscow, who lived in the 20th century.

Matrona Moskovskaya was born in 1885 in the village of Sebino, Tula province. Her parents lived in poverty, and her mother wanted to give her fourth child to the orphanage, but one day the unborn girl came to her in the form of a white bird and asked not to give her to the orphanage. The bird's eyes were tightly closed. The girl was born blind, but her mother did not give her to an orphanage. The girl spent all her time in the temple from an early age.

As a little girl, she predicted many events and healed many sick people. People from all over the province were coming to her. At the age of 16, her legs were numbed. She accepted her troubles and continued to heal others. In 1925, Matrona moved to Moscow, where she lived for almost 30 years. Up to 40 people came to see Matrona every day. She accepted everyone and helped everyone.

Matrona died on May 2, 1952 and was buried at the Danilovsky Cemetery in Moscow. This cemetery became a place of her veneration. Many people came here on pilgrimage trips. In 1998, the relics of Matrona of Moscow were transferred to the Pokrovsky Monastery, and in 2004 she was canonized.

In front of the temple, there is almost always a large queue of people who came to worship the Holy Matrona. Before a pilgrimage trip, you need to be prepared that you will have to stand in line for about 3-4 hours, and maybe more.

Optina Pustyn Monastery (Kaluga region)

Optina Pustyn Monastery is located on the outskirts of the town of Kozelsk in the Tula region. According to legend, the monastery was founded in the 14th century by the repentant robber Opta, who became a monk and the first abbot under the name of Macarius.

For many years Optina Pustyn was a small provincial monastery. The most difficult times came during the reign of Tsar Peter I. It was planned to close this monastery. However, in the 19th century, the monastery of Optina Pustyn became one of the spiritual centers of Russia.

In the Optina Pustyn, throughout the 19th century, there was a tradition of holy elders, which attracted thousands of pilgrims from all over Russia. In the Optina Pustyn for a hundred years there were more than ten holy elders who received and taught the people who came to them. An elder is a monk who has the gift of spiritual vision and guidance.

The ordinary people and Russian emperors came to the elders of the Optina Pustyn. Great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote that the pilgrimage to Optina Pustyn had a great influence on him. After that, he wrote the novel The Brothers Karamazov, where the prototype of the elder Zosima was the Optina elder Ambrose. Several times Optina Pustyn was visited by Leo Tolstoy. The last time he visited the monastery was in 1912. After that, he boarded the train, but was forced to get off it due to illness at the Astapovo station, where he died 7 days later.

The founder of the spiritual school of elders in Optina Pustyn was the elder Leonid (Lev Nagolkin). The great Optina elders St. Macarius and St. Ambrose were his disciples. Elder Ambrose (1812-1891) spread his spiritual influence throughout Russia, and the prayer of the Optina elders became widespread.

Chapel of Xenia the Blessed (St. Petersburg)

The Chapel of Xenia the Blessed is located in the Smolensk Cemetery, on Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg. Xenia the Blessed is the heavenly patroness of the city, with St. Alexander Nevsky and John of Kronstadt.

Xenia the Blessed was born in the first half of the 18th century. The exact year of her birth is unknown. In her youth, she married the court singer Andrei Petrov, but became a widow at the age of 26. After that, she put on his clothes and dedicated her life to God, becoming a holy fool (blessed). She said that Ksenia was dead, and Andrey Petrov was alive. For more than 40 years, she was a homeless wanderer, praying for people and helping them. Especially there were many stories about how Ksenia's prayer helped in the arrangement of family life. Most of the young people who come to the chapel of Xenia the Blessed in the Smolensk Cemetery now ask her about it.

For a long time, the Smolensk cemetery had only a small grave of Xenia. On the slab was written: "Whoever recognizes me, let him remember my soul for the salvation of his soul." In 1902, a chapel was erected over her grave. In 1988, Ksenia of St. Petersburg was canonized.

Nowadays, many people always come to the Chapel of Xenia the Blessed. Many people come here on pilgrimage trips from other cities. To enter the chapel and worship the relics of Xenia the Blessed you will have to stand for several hours in a long queue, so it is better to come here early in the morning.

St. John's Monastery (St. Petersburg)

St. John's Monastery is located on the embankment of the Karpovka River on the Petrogradskaya side in St. Petersburg. John of Kronstadt is the patron saint of St. Petersburg.

John of Kronstadt was born in 1829 in the village of Sura, Arkhangelsk province. Over time, he became a very famous preacher. Many said that they listened to his sermons "with tears in their eyes", and in the church tradition he is called "the great prayer, seer and wonderworker". He received the last confessions of the Russian emperors Alexander II and Alexander III.

The main temple of the monastery is built in the Byzantine style, and has 5 domes. A five-tiered bell tower was built on the west side. In 1901, the Church of St. John of Rila, the patron saint of St. John of Kronstadt, was consecrated on the first floor of the church still under construction.

In 1903-1908, a small church-tomb was created in the basement. John of Kronstadt died on December 20, 1908. The next day the main church of the St. John's Monastery was consecrated, and the next day Father John was buried in the tomb in the basement. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized Saint John of Kronstadt in 1990.

Pskov-Pechersk Lavra (Pskov region)

Pskov-Pechersk Lavra is located 50 kilometers west of the city of Pskov, in the village of Pechery. The Pskov-Pechersk Monastery is often called the Lavra, which emphasizes its importance for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Officially, there are only two Lavras in Russia - the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad and the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. However, the Holy Dormition Pskov-Pechersk Monastery with a long history is also called the Lavra. It has never been closed in its entire history.

The monastery was founded by St. John in 1473, who dug the first cave in the slope of the ravine. Since then, a lot of caves have appeared here. Word “Pechery” in Russian language means “Caves”. The internal structure of the Pskov-Pechersk Lavra is quite original. All the buildings and churches of the monastery are built on the slopes of a deep ravine. Entering the monastery through the Main Gate, you will see a road going downhill along the bottom of the ravine, and in the lowlands there are several temples and monk’s cells buildings.

The main temple of the Lavra is the Sretensky Cathedral. It has miraculous icons, and next to it is the entrance to the caves (underground tunnels) where the monks of the monastery are buried. The Pskov-Pechersk Lavra is similar to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. In both monasteries there are cases where monks are buried, many of whom are canonized. Be sure to take a walk around the fortress walls of the Pskov-Pechersk monastery.

Kazan Cathedral (St. Petersburg)

Kazan Cathedral is located on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. It contains a miraculous replica of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Many people always come to worship the icon.

At the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt and the Griboyedov Canal in 1733, the Church of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin was built. Over time, this church also became a place where the victories of the Russian army were celebrated.

By the end of the 18th century, the church was dilapidated, and Emperor Paul I decided to build on this site the Kazan Cathedral. It had to become one of the largest churches in St. Petersburg and all of Russia in terms of capacity. The project of the architect Voronikhin was chosen at the competition. He proposed to build the Kazan Cathedral with a huge colonnade facing Nevsky Prospekt. So the problem of building churches on Nevsky Prospekt was solved, as they were turned sideways to the main street of the city.

Kazan Cathedral was founded in 1801, and completed in 1811, just a year before the War with Napoleon. Its colonnade of 96 columns is similar to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome

Here was a prayer service before the departure of the commander Mikhail Kutuzov in 1812 to the Russian army for the war with Napoleon. In 1813, Mikhail Kutuzov was buried here.

The main shrine of the Kazan Cathedral is the venerated replica of the Kazan Wonderworking Icon of the Holy Virgin. The Wonderworking icon itself was found in 1579 in Kazan. The icon performed miracles, and over time it became one of the most revered icons in Russia.

In the same year, 1579, a replica was made from the icon and sent to Ivan the Terrible in Moscow, where it was kept in the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square. Peter I moved this replica to St. Petersburg. By that time, the replica was also considered Wonderworking. In 1904, the church in Kazan was robbed, and the Kazan icon itself disappeared. Now in Russia there is only a revered replica of the Icon of the Kazan Holy Virgin, which is stored in the Kazan Cathedral of St. Petersburg.

Tikhvin Monastery (Tikhvin)

Tikhvin Monastery is located 220 kilometers east of St. Petersburg. It houses one of the most revered icons of the Holy Virgin in Russian Orthodoxy - the Tikhvin Icon. Many people always come here on pilgrimage trips. Not far from Tikhvin is the Monastery of Alexander Svirsky, where many pilgrims also come.

According to legend, the Tikhvin icon of the Holy Virgin was painted by the Evangelist Luke during the life of the Virgin Mary. For almost fifteen hundred years it was kept in Constantinople. However, at the end of the 14th century, the icon began to appear to the inhabitants of villages in the south of Lake Ladoga, until it reached the bank of the Tikhvinka River. This was the place where the icon was found. Constantinople had not yet fallen to the Turks, but it was already losing its status as the center of Orthodoxy.

In 1383, a wooden church was built on the site of the icon, and the stone Assumption Cathedral was built here in 1510 by Tsar Vasily III. Since then, all Russian tsars came to Tikhvin on a pilgrimage to worship the miraculous icon. In the 17th century almost all the buildings of the monastery were built in stone.

In 1941, during World War II the Germans troops captured Tikhvin. When they retreated, they took the icon with them. In Riga, the icon got the Bishop John. In 1949, he moved to the United States and became Archbishop of Chicago. He took the icon with him. He bequeathed to transfer the icon back to the Tikhvin Monastery as soon as it was restored. In 2004, the Tikhvin Icon of the Holy Virgin was solemnly returned to the Tikhvin Monastery.

Trinity Monastery (Murom)

In the Trinity Monastery, located in the center of the ancient town of Murom, the relics of Saints Peter and Fevronia are kept. In Russia, they have always been considered the patrons of Family and Marriage. The Day of Peter and Fevronia, July 8, was celebrated in Russia until 1917, as Day of Lovers (then there was no Valentine's Day in Russia).

Peter and Fevronia lived in the 13th century. There is a legend that the Murom Prince Peter, once ill with leprosy, could not be cured of it. He sent messengers for doctors, but they could only find a peasant girl, Fevronia, who agreed to cure him. In exchange for the cure, she made him promise to marry her. Peter was cured, but deceived her and left. However, the disease resumed, and Peter returned to Fevronia. After his recovery, he married her. After that, they lived in love and harmony for many decades.

When they were already old, Peter and Fevronia became monks in different monasteries, but they asked God that they would each die in their cell on the same day and at the same hour. This happened on July 8, 1228.

According to legend, at first people wanted to bury each of them in their own monastery, but the next morning their bodies were found in the common tomb of the Trinity Monastery. Since then, no one dared to separate them, and they were buried in the Trinity Monastery in Murom.

Peter and Fevronia were canonized in 1547. They became patrons of Love, Marriage, and Fidelity. In the Trinity Monastery of the Murom with pilgrimage trips often come couples who want to have children. The relics of Peter and Fevronia are considered miraculous in the Russian Orthodox Church.