ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: November 8, 2011
Bishop Michael Officiates at Feast-Day Services at Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia
On November 4, 2011, the Russian Orthodox Church marked the feast day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. For the city of St Petersburg, this day is also the feast day of its main cathedral.
The festive celebration was headed by His Grace Bishop Michael (Donskoff) of Geneva and Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, along with clergymen of the St Petersburg Diocese.
First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva, St Petersburg’s Governor Georgi Poltavchenko and members of the municipal authorities were in attendance.
After the end of the service, Bishop Michael congratulated all in attendance on this holiday, noting its importance in the history of Russia. The Cathedral’s Senior Priest, Protopriest Pavel Krasnotsvetov, read a greeting sent by His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of St Petersburg and Ladoga. Several of the diocesan clergymen received a commemorative silver medal of Holy Apostle Peter “as a blessing for their earnest efforts to the glory of the Holy Church”: Protopriest Nikolai Zhuravlev, Priest Mikhail Shastin, Priest Alexei Dorofeev and Priest Igor Marchuk. At the end of the services, the worshipers were given the opportunity to venerate the ancient Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.
The holiday of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God was established in memory of the surrender of Moscow’s Kremlin by a Polish-Lithuanian garrison. Moscow was already occupied by Russian military forces from Nizhny Novgorod and Yaroslavl, which in 1612 deflected an advance by Hetman Yan Hodkevich, who intended to rescue this garrison. Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, who headed these forces, decided not to spill unneeded blood by storming the Kremlin, but chose to wait until the Polish garrison capitulated. More accurately, he himself, his warriors and all the Russian people not only waited by fervently prayed, performing processions of the cross with one of the copies of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, which the Russian forces had brought with them to Moscow. For this reason, the Church established the feast day for this icon on the day the Polish-Lithuanian forces surrendered and the Kremlin was recovered. It can be said that this victory ended many years of bloodshed, although of course the date itself is subject to conjecture, and actions continued after 1612. Battles against Cossacks still lay ahead in response to their uprising, as well as against Poles and Swedes. Still, November 4, 1612, was a key moment in Russian history, according to Doctor of History Yaroslav Leontiev.