Thirty pilgrims from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand set out this summer for an ambitious two week journey to the Holy Places of Russia led by His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. Among the pilgrims was Priest Gregory (Winsky), cleric of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had been appointed by the then Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archbishop Justinian in April 2014 as coordinator for the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA for the pilgrimage, along with his Matushka, Dianne, as well as clerics of the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR: Archpriest Michael Crowley, (Rector of St. Xenia's Church, Methuen MA); Priest Eugene Antonov (Rector of Our Lady "Joy of all Who Sorrow" Church, Atlanta GA) and Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov, Cell-Attendant to the Metropolitan), which clergy were blessed to serve with Metropolitan Hilarion and other hierarchs during the pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage began with a Panikhida on anniversary of the beginning of World War I at St Paphnuty-Borovsky Monastery (Kaluga Oblast) headed by Metropolitan. The pilgrims were then welcomed at the Convent of St. Nicholas Chernoostrovsky Convent in Maloyaroslavets, by its Abbes Nichola and treated to lunch and a concert by the convent's orphans.
On August 1, the feast day of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, the pilgrims visited St. Seraphim’s Church in Vorotynsk (Kaluga Oblast), where Metropolitans Clement of Kaluga & Borovsk (former Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA) and Hilarion of Eastern America & New York concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in honor of the church’s patronal feast.
On August 2, the pilgrims arrived at the Optina Hermitage (dedicated to the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple). At the Divine Liturgy, monastery clerics were co-served by clergy accompanying His Eminence on the pilgrimage.
On August 3, the pilgrimage entered into the city of Tula. The pilgrims participated in the Sunday Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of All Saints as well as to pray before the Holy Relics of St. John of Tula who was commemorated on that day. The pilgrims were warmly greeted by His Eminence Metropolitan Alexey of Tula and Bulaevsk. The pilgrims then departed to the town of Yelets where they were greeted by His Grace Bishop Maxim of Yelets and Lebedyansk.
On August 4, the pilgrims headed to the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Zadonsk for the Feastday of the Holy Myrrhbearer & Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene. Metropolitan Hilarion was co-served by Metropolitan Nikon of Lipetsk & Zadonsk.
On August 5, the pilgrims visited Monastery of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, where the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Hilarion and Metropolitan Nikon of Zadonsk and Lipetsk. The pilgrims were then given an opportunity to pray before His Holy Relics.
From August 5 - 7, the pilgrimage stopped at Holy Sites at cities including Tambov, Ryazan, Murom - the location of the Relics of Sts. Peter and Fevronia of Murom as well as St. Elias of Murom, Diveyevo - the location of the Relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
On Friday, August 8, Metropolitan Hilarion and clergy on the pilgrimage celebrated Liturgy at Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church at the Butovo Firing Range in Moscow. That day marks the beginning of the mass executions carried out in Butovo in 1937.
On August 9, the pilgrims visited the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra for Divine Liturgy and veneration of the Relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh as well as St. Innocent of Alaska. On August 10, Divine Liturgy was served in honor of the Smolensk Icon of the Holy Mother of God as well as St. Pitirim of Tambov.
From August 11 through the conclusion of the pilgrimage, the pilgrims visited St. Petersburg. The pilgrims had an opportunity to tour the Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan, St. Issac's Cathedral. The pilgrims also had a chance to meet with His Eminence Metropolitan Varsonofry of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate at his residence at the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Metropolitan Hilarion then served a Panikhida at the grave of Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov). The pilgrimage culminated with visits to the relics of Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg and St. John of Kronstadt.
The website of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA is grateful to the various authors of photographs published in this article: