The important day of the 300th anniversary of the martyrdom of Holy Patriarch Ermogen, greatest of patriots of the Russian nation, was honored in Russia with a celebration which characterized the great podvig as that of a “sufferer for the Russian Land.”
Especially ceremonious was the jubilee in the nation’s capital, Moscow, where St Ermogen, the Patriarch-Passion-bearer carried out his podvig in the dungeons under Chudov Monastery. All-night vigil was performed in Uspensky Cathedral on the eve of the anniversary, where the crypt of the holy martyr is found.
There were thousands of people in the Kremlin from early morning. Not everyone, however, could make their way into the Kremlin walls, so the neighboring Red Square was flooded with people. Pannikhidas were constantly being served at the Holy Patriarch’s tomb, and at the place where he was imprisoned. Word of miraculous healings spread through the crowds.
At nine am, the bells of Ivan the Great rang, followed by the peal of all the bells in the area, attesting to the fact that a procession of the cross was commencing from Kazan Cathedral.
Among the icons being carried, the very Kazan Icon of the Mother of God itself drew special attention, for it was this icon that Patriarch Ermogen, while still a priest, discovered among the embers of a fire and pulled “out of the earth,” where later Kazan Cathedral was built. This icon also accompanied the emancipation campaign led by Prince Pozharsky.
From Ermolaevsky Church, built by Patriarch Ermogen, they brought out the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God and an icon of Holy Martyr Ermolay (the lay name of the Patriarch). An icon of the Savior was also brought from Kazan Cathedral, embroidered with silk and gold by the daughters of Prince Pozharsky. Hieromonks from Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra carried an icon of Patriarch Ermogen’s fellow podvizhnik, Archimandrite Laurus, as well as St Dionisy. This icon, painted on cypress wood, had been blessed over the tomb of the saint.
Near the Lobnoye Mesto [elevated platform on Red Square—transl.], the procession halted and the clergymen blessed the people with the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Moscow and Kolomensk, who was later to be among the Holy New Martyrs, then met the continuing procession near Uspensky Cathedral.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Vladimir along with six bishops and ten archimandrites and protopriests. Afterwards, the Metropolitan read a sermon in which he noted the fervent faith of the Patriarch-Martyr. After a pannikhida at the tomb of St Ermogen, a procession of the cross continued to Chudov Monastery, where the Metropolitan performed a litiya in the dungeons where the Patriarch was martyred. Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna prayed at these services, herself a future New Martyr.
A telegraph was sent on behalf of all those in attendance to His Royal Highness Emperor Nicholas II:
“Having gathered within the walls of the ancient, blessed Kremlin for the prayerful commemoration of His Holiness Ermogen, Patriarch of All Russia, on the 300th anniversary of his martyrdom, we all, by sacred council, together with people of the serving and other classes and callings, piously bow down before great ecclesiastical and national podvig he achieved during the years of trouble and strife, and before the tomb of this staunch pillar of the Church and the Fatherland we give our oath to unerringly preserve his legacy and to boldly, even unto death, stand for the Orthodox Faith, for You, Great Emperor, and for the entire, grand, God-saved Russia.”
A trapeza feast was then offered in the Metropolitan’s residence for honored worshipers. A Protodeacon intoned “Many Years” to the Tsar in an ancient chant. Other deacons then sang “Many Years” nine times.
The next day, Metropolitan Vladimir performed the commemoration for the repose of Patriarch Ermogen’s fellow martyrs and all those who laid down their lives for the faith in the Time of Troubles. That evening, a ceremonial meeting was held in the Diocesan Center to honor the Patriarch. The Metropolitan blessed the meeting himself. The Chairman of the Jubilee Committee, His Grace Anastassy (Gribanovsky) of Serpoukhov, future First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, read aloud a telegram from the Tsar, which he wrote in response to the telegram with the oath of the people. Everyone stood while it was read, and followed it by singing “God Save the Tsar” and filling the large hall with a loud “hurrah.”
Vladyka Anastassy then read the first speech on Patriarch Ermogen, followed by lectures by VV Nazarevsky, SI Sobolevsky, EV Barsov, Protopriest Nikolai Liubimov, future member of the Local All-Russian Council which elected Holy Patriarch Tikhon. The Synod Choir then performed several pieces of sacred music. At the end of the meeting, the prayer Dostoyno est’ [“It is Fitting”] was sung. The Metropolitan gave his blessing, and all those in attendance gave a powerful rendition of the national anthem.
The northern capital likewise fervently marked the 300th anniversary of Holy Patriarch Ermogen’s martyrdom. On the eve, every church of St Petersburg performed a funerary vigil, and on the day of his martyrdom, commemorative Liturgies were celebrated, followed by pannikhidas. St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and St Isaac’s Cathedral had hierarchal Liturgies. In Kazan Cathedral, Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev, joined by all the members of the Holy Ruling Synod.
Later that day, the members and activists of the All-Russian National Union met, unanimously deciding to invite His Grace Bishop Evlogy of Kholm, future head of the Paris Exarchate, to raise the question of canonizing Holy Martyr Ermogen. The President of the Society, Protopriest Filosof Ornatsky, who later suffered under the godless persecutions, reported on this decision with the blessing of Metropolitan Flavian, proposing that he also sign this plea and support this appeal before the Holy Ruling Synod. The two thousand members in attendance boomed their support for this request, and Vladyka promised to intercede with this pious appeal to the Synod.
A staunch warrior for the independence of Russia, His Holiness Patriarch Ermogen is particularly revered in Kazan, since he spent the majority of his time serving the Orthodox Church and Fatherland in that city. Places where the hierarch walked were still preserved these hundreds of years later, and so the memory of the martyric end of this sufferer for his Homeland was particularly poignant for the people of Kazan.
Since the evening before the jubilee, all the churches of the city held a parastas [funerary vigil] for the repose of Patriarch Ermogen. Most ceremonious were the services at the following churches:
Archbishop Iakov of Kazan officiated at Kazan Cathedral; at Kazan Monastery, the very site where the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God was found with the participation of Patriarch Ermogen himself, who was at the time a simple priest, held a parastas led by His Grace Bishop Mikhail, Vicar of Kazan Diocese; Piatnitsky Church, where the Kazan Icon found its first home, held services led by the Rector of the Kazan Theological Academy, His Grace Bishop Anastassy; at St Nicholas Hostel Church, where Patriarch Ermogen served as a priest, Mitred Protopriest and Professor the the KTA Malov performed a parastas; in Holy Transfiguration Monastery, where Ermogen served as an archimandrite, the parastas was led by Archimandrite Varsanofy. On the anniversary day itself, the clergymen all gathered at 8:30 am at Kazan Convent, where a procession of the cross from Feodorovsky Monastery arrived. After a pannikhida by Bishop Mikhail, a procession of the cross departed from Kazan Convent to Kazan Cathedral. On the way, other processions of the cross merged, coming from the Hostel Church and Spassky Monastery.
This united, grand procession was met at Kazan Cathedral by Archbishop Iakov, who then officiated at Divine Liturgy and a pannikhida.
High-school students of both church and lay schools were let out of school that day, as were all the lower schools. The next day, Sunday, several readings were organized in the city dedicated to the memory of Patriarch Ermogen.
Holy Russian likewise celebrated this anniversary of a man to whom it owed its very existence in other cities as well. They lifted up their heartfelt pleas to the Throne of the Almighty. But they did not pray for the repose of this righteous man: they knew that he has long ago stood before His Throne. They prayed that the Lord granted them to present this righteous man to the world, to place him “as a lantern” for the great Russian Land, that he may shine forth to all who gather to him for his intercession.