NEW YORK: August 20, 2007
With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, an official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Isidor of Ekaterinodar and Kuban, will participate in celebrations of the reestablishment of canonical unity of the Russian Orthodox Church.
During this trip, divine services are planned to be held in the churches and monasteries of the Russian diaspora. The visitors will have with them an icon dear to the heart of every Orthodox Christian, the Derzhavnaya [Reigning] Icon of the Mother of God.
The members of the delegation and the choir of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow will participate in the celebration of the 40 th anniversary of the episcopal service of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York.
In addition to participating in divine services in New York, Jordanville, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Melbourne, Sydney, Geneva, Berlin, London and Paris, Sretensky Choir will also perform "Masterpieces of Russian Choral Singing" in the great concert halls of these cities.
The Derzhavnaya Icon of the Mother of God
The miracle-working “Reigning” icon of the Mother of God was found the same day on which Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II abdicated the Russian throne— March 2/15, 1917. The Russian Orthodox people accepted this occurrence as a witness that the ultimate authority over and care for Russia had passed to the Heavenly Queen Herself.
On Febuary 13, 1917, the Most Holy Mother of God appeared in a dream to the peasant girl, Evdokia Adrianova, and spoke to her these words: “There is a large, dark icon in the village of Kolomenskoe. It must be taken from there; the people must pray.” On February 26, in a second dream, the girl saw a white church and a majestic Lady within it. The peasant girl decided to search for the church she had seen in her dream. On March 2 in the village of Kolomenskoe, near Moscow, she recognized the Church of the Lord's Ascension as that very church. A diligent search by the girl and the church's rector revealed a large, dark icon of the Mother of God—the very image that had revealed itself to Evdokia in her dream.
The icon quickly came to be venerated as miraculous; many copies were painted of it, and it was taken to all the surrounding villages, monasteries, churches—even factories— throughout Moscow, and molebens were served. A service and akathist were written at the blessing and with the participation of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and all Russia. (Another service composed by VV Bogoroditsky was published later in Jordanville Monastery.)
The icons' name corresponds to its iconography. The Theotokos is represented as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Dressed in a green gown and red garments reminiscent of an imperial mantle, She is seated upon a throne, her right hand bearing a scepter, her left hand resting upon the monarchical orb. Upon Her head is a crown encircled by a golden halo. The Infant Christ sits upon her knees, His right hand raised in blessing, His left hand pointing towards the monarchical orb.
It is thought that the “Reigning” icon, painted in the 18th century, was earlier located in the Ascension Convent of the Moscow Kremlin, from which it was taken to Kolomenskoe during the Napoleonic invasion of 1812.
After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, the Ascension Church was closed; the icon and other holy objects from that church were taken to various storage rooms of the State Historical Museum, where they remained for seven decades.
The miracle-working icon's return corresponded significantly with Russia's liberation from the yoke of the godless regime. At the end of the 1980's, through the efforts of Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechayev) of Volokolamsk and Yuriev, and of Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin), the icon was taken quietly upon orders from the director of the museum, KG Levykin, to the publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate, and kept for several years in the altar of the house church dedicated to St Joseph of Volokolamsk.
On July 27, 1990, at the blessing of His Holiness Alexy, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Orthodox clergy and faithful of Moscow triumphantly carried the icon to Kolomenskoe to be placed in the Kazan Church, which was not closed. The icon was installed at the right kliros. Since that time, every Sunday, the akathist hymn composed under Patriarch Tikhon's patronage has been read before the miracle-working icon of the “Reigning” Mother of God.
Moscow Sretensky Monastery Choir
In 1994 the monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, at which time the Sretensky Choir was organized. The Choir sings the Divine Services several days per week in the Monastery church, using ancient Byzantine and Russian chants. It frequently participates in the Services celebrated by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II in the Dormition Cathedral, located in the Moscow Kremlin.
Outside of its participation in the Divine Services, the Choir has an active concert life both in Russia and abroad, in which it performs favorite Russian folk songs and romances that reflect old cultural traditions and a «great Russian soul». It has performed in Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, the UNESCO Hall, the Vatican Hall Auditorium, and the Russian House in Belgrade. It also participated in the First International Choir Festival in St. Petersburg, June, 2007.
Its members are an integral part of the monastery community, a fact which influences the repertory and the style of its interpretations. The choir's artistic director and conductor is Nikon Zhila, a graduate of the Russian Gnessin Academy of Music.
Schedule of Divine Services in Celebration of the Restoration of Fellowship Within the Unified Russian Orthodox Church
September 1, Saturday, New York
September 2, Sunday, New York
September 3, Monday, Jordanville
September 5, Wednesday, Boston
September 7, Friday, Toronto
September 8, Saturday – Meeting of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, Toronto
September 9, Sunday, Chicago
September 10, Monday, Washington, D. C.
September 11, Tuesday – The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Washington, D. C.
September 15, Saturday, San Francisco
September 16, Sunday, San-Francisco
September 20, Thursday, Dandenong (Melbourne)
September 21, Friday – Nativity of the Theotokos, Melbourne
September 22, Saturday, Sydney
September 23, Sunday, Sydney
September 26, Wednesday, Geneva
September 27, Thursday, Geneva
September 29, Saturday, Berlin
September 30, Sunday, London
October 3, Thursday, Paris
World Tour Schedule
New York Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 8pm
Boston Thursday, September 6th, 2007 at 8pm
Toronto Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 8pm
Chicago Sunday, September 9th, 2007 at 7pm
Washington, DC Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 at 8pm
San Francisco Friday, September 14, 2007 at 8pm
Melbourne Friday, September 21, 2007 at 8pm
Sydney Sunday, September 23, 2007 at 5pm
Geneva Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 8:30pm
Berlin Friday, September 28, 2007 at 8pm
London Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7pm
Paris Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 7pm