RUSSIAN ECCLESIASTICAL MISSION IN JERUSALEM: September 13, 2006
The Cross Over "Russian Excavations" is Consecrated
It is morning in the Holy Land. The sun rises over the Moab Mountains and Jerusalem is transformed into a golden city. There exists no more beautiful sight than the first moments of dawn in the Holy City of the Resurrection, especially when dark clouds still hurry across the sky. One stands in awe and praises God. Against the backdrop of this golden city, a large Orthodox cross above the Church of St Alexander, (known as the "Russian Excavations," the property of the Orthodox Palestine Society) suddenly shines forth like a morning star. The cross is clearly seen from the Mount of Olives, and from Gethsemane. A few days ago, on the feast day of St Alexander, its gilding completed, it was ceremoniously blessed. This was an historic, important event. This cross stands in the very heart of Jerusalem, near the Church of the Resurrection of Christ. The "eight-pointed" bronze, gilded cross stands three meters tall and adorns the Holy City as a symbol of Russian Orthodoxy in the Holy Land. Hieromonk Nicholas (Perekrestov), Secretary of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, was given the honor of performing the rite of consecration. Reading the proper psalms with trembling, we utter the words: "Let us enter God's dwelling; let us worship at God's footstool," and "Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain." As we stand on the roof of the church, to the left is the dome of the Sepulcher of the Lord, Golgotha nearby, and underneath us is the Judgment Gate, through which Christ was led to the "Place of Skulls."
Fr Nicholas ascends a ladder to the cross itself. The nuns and faithful remain in place. The consecration lasts for almost an hour. Afterwards, we are all given the opportunity to climb up to the cross, but only a few do so. The ascent is fraught with danger. We are worried: could Fr Nicholas, in full vestments, climb down safely? But thank God, he does. Afterwards we all descend to the church for Divine Liturgy, which begins unusually late (at 9:30 am). The church's acoustics are magnificent; it is easy to sing here. And the holiness of the site fills the soul with blessedness. Considering the fact that it is a workday, a good number of people gather, and almost everyone partakes of the Holy Gifts. Afterwards, church members offer a trapeza for the clergy and monastics. We thank God for His great mercy!