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The Importance of Pilgrimage

St John of Kronstadt
St John of Kronstadt
St John of Kronstadt

 

"The Orthodox East has been, since ancient times the source of light for the grace of Christ in all of the universe." Hieromonk Alexander writes in1905 after the Canonisation of St Seraphim of Sarov. Thus we, as Russian Orthodox Christians, regardless of our nationality, should set an example to the people we find ourselves amongst and especially our own young people of our corporate desire to serach for holiness. This means that we should be a people on the move, seeking out holy places where we can encounter Heaven. Visiting the ancient churches of Britain where we live or Russia and Ukraine where we might visit, is part of this yearning to seek out all that is holy. St John of Kronstadt, whose shrine some of us will visit in July has this to say..."Entering into a church, whether during divine service or not, you enter, as it were, into a world that is somehow incomparable with the sensual...you see the icons of the saints according to their faces when they lived on earth...you see the remarkable image of the God-Man Jesus Christ...you see the image of His Most Pure Virgin Mother...you see the faces of the holy angels, those rdent inhabitants of heaven. A church is a terrestial heaven (zimnoe nebo), a place of the most immediate communion with divinity." (quoted by Fr John Strickland in The Making of Holy Russia. Holy Trinity Publications 2013)

In both Britain and Russia, so much has been destroyed. In Britain in the 16th Century, the Protestant Reformation ruined and despoiled almost all the ancient shrines that had been pilgrimage centres for centuries. In Russia, with the reforms of Tsar Peter the Great, many monasteries were closed and thriving monasticism was restricted and in the 20th century, the atheist regime set about the wholesale destruction of the Church. Surprisingly, in both countries, holy places somehow survived despite the all- pervading destruction. St John Maximovich, the Wonderworker, encouraged the faithful in Western Europe to rediscover and venerate the ancient saints of the West as well as venerating the great saints of the Christian East. We should heed his instruction and do our best to follow his advice. This little site will be an attempt to encourage us and give us some food for thought as we seek to visit holy places. 

Archbishop Mark has blessed that this site is used to develop pilgrimage both in the UK and abroad. If your parish is considering visiting a holy place and you woud like information to be advertised, please let Fr Paul know at frpaulelliott@aol.com

St Walstan Pilgrimage

St Walstan
St Walstan
St Walstan

Please save the date of Saturday 11 June, when there will be a pilgrimage to Bawburgh to celebrate the Millennial Anniversary of St Walstan. An Akathist and Life will be read at 2pm. The following day, Sunday 12 June, there will be a Festal Liturgy in honour of the saint at Mettingham. Details of the Life of St Walstan can be found at : http://www.joyofallwhosorrow.org.uk/index.php/saints_and_righteous/about/st_walstan_of_taverham

2017 Pilgrimage to Voronesh

Ideas for a pilgrimage to Voronesh are being explored for 2017. News of this will come soon on this website. For a brief insight into the holy sites of the area please see http://www.russianchurchlondon.info/паломничества/св-тихон-и-св-митрофан-зима-2016-2017/

Proposed Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Werburgh in Chester

Icon of St Werburgh
Icon of St Werburgh
Icon of St Werburgh
Pilgrimage to St Werburgh's Shrine, Chester Cathedral

Troparion, Tone 4
Thine illustrious life filled the angels with awe and put the demons to flight in terror, while it adorneth the congregations of the faithful with the splendour of grace, O venerable Mother Werburga! As in thy charity thou didst extend thy love to all thy fellow creatures, intercede with God in our behalf, that our souls be saved from perdition!


In the year 597, 560 years after St Dorotheus of Tyre dates Bishop (Saint) Aristibule as bringing the Christian Faith to England, one of the greatest difficulties faced by the missionaries in reintroducing the Church to the areas invaded by the pagans from northern Europe was the division of the land into a number of often warring kingdoms. The most effective way of overcoming this disunity was dynastic marriage between members of the royal families, families which, once Christianised, were able to spread the Faith with immense zeal. In this undertaking the main and vital role was played by queens and princesses, the women of the royal families, who, as ever, showed far greater sensitivity to the Truth of Christ than the men. Many of them, as widows, together with unmarried sisters or daughters, turned to the monastic life, which in turn helped weld together the seven kingdoms into national unity. Indeed, Old England had no fewer than thirty-seven holy abbesses, many of them of royal origin. The family tree of this golden age of holiness starts in 597 with the first convert, Ethelburt, King of Kent. From his family emerged an extraordinary catalogue of twenty-seven Saints, including St Werburgh.

On her mother's side, St Werburgh was descended from a long line of Saints from the kingdom of Kent. Her father, however, was Wulfhere, prince of the newly-converted Mercia, and her father's father was none other than Penda, the war-like pagan King of Mercia, responsible for the deaths of Christian kings from neighbouring kingdoms - St Oswald, King of Northumbria and St Sigebert, King of East Anglia. Her father died when she was young and so she was brought up by her great-aunt, St Audrey, at Ely, later going to Minster-in-Sheppey in Kent with her mother St Ermenhild and her grandmother, St Saxburgh.

No doubt here she made the acquaintance of her cousins, Milburgh, Mildred and Mildgyth, and the Kentish and East Anglian traditions of family and monastic piety handed down through the generations, as well as the advice of spiritual fathers and mothers whom the family had known, going right back to St Augustine himself. She was destined to take back these traditions with her to her native Mercia. A late tradition says that Werburgh had a suitor whom she rejected, and it was he who was responsible for martyring her two brothers, Wulfhad and Ruffin, who were protecting her. However this may be, it is clear that, when still young, she had already chosen the monastic life. She was to become nun and then abbess at Minster-in-Sheppey and then at Ely itself. But this was not to last.

On account of both her spiritual and practical experience in the great convents of England, she was invited by her father's brother, King and later St Ethelred of Mercia, to take charge of convents in Mercia, at Weedon, Hanbury and Threckingham. Stories about her from this period particularly concern her links with the animal world. A picturesque legend describes the control she had over wild geese which were devastating crops at Weedon. Abbess Werburgh ordered them into a stable and such was their obedience that next morning they asked her to be released. Another story, which shows her humility, is that of how at Weedon she protected a cowherd, Alnoth, a man of simplicity and holiness, from a cruel steward. She threw herself at the steward's feet and asked him to spare Alnoth, whom she said was more acceptable to God than any of themselves. Later, the same cowherd was to become a hermit in nearby woods at Stowe, and then murdered. He was venerated locally as a Saint on 27th February.

The Abbess Werburgh reposed at Threckingham on 3rd February in about the year 700, certainly not later than 710. Apparently at her own request, the relics were taken from Threckingham to Hanbury, where they remained until 875, much venerated. In this year, for fear of the Danish invasions, the holy remains were transferred to Chester, to the church which became known as St Werburgh's. This is the beginning of her long connection with that city, and she is often called "St Werburga of Chester". The site of St Werburgh's church is today that of Chester Cathedral, where part of the stone base of her shrine still survives. In 1540, Henry VIII made the abbey church of St Werburgh into a cathedral, and, as protestants often did, like the Normans before them, rededicated it. However, even today, it still keeps its link with the Saint through the name of the street leading to the cathedral - St Werburgh Street. St Werburgh's prayers were much sought by the young, especially children and young women.

The church at Hanbury is still dedicated to St Werburgh and this may mean that she actually founded the convent whereas she only reformed Weedon and Threckingham. Near Hanbury, another dedication is at Kingsley. Churches at Derby and nearby Spondon and Blackwell are also dedicated to her, and these, too, are probably her foundations, for it is known that she laboured here and also in nearby Repton. Although Chester was rededicated at the reformation, in Cheshire, the village of Warburton is named after the Saint, (Werburgton), and the church there is also dedicated to her, apparently on the site of a monastery. In the Midlands, there used to be another village, now lost, called Werburgewic.

Werburgh's presence is also remembered in Kent in the present-day village of Hoo St Werburgh near the convent at Minster-in-Sheppey and previously in another lost village of Thanet, Werburghingland. Other dedications to her are in Bristol, Wembury in Devon, and at Treneglos and Warbstow (the "stow" or "holy place" of Werburgh), in Cornwall. These dedications may represent a distribution of relics of the Saint in the West.

The section of the life of St Werburgh is an edited version of an article which originally appeared in "Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition", and is here reproduced by kind permission of Fr Andrew Phillips.

Her Feast Day is February 3rd/16th, Her shrine was in Chester Cathedral but destroyed by Oliver Crowell's army after the defeat of King Charles 1st. The shrine was restored in the late 19th Century with stones found in the area. It is believed that there is a relic of St Werburgh in the Roman Catholic Church of that name in Chester.

Pilgrimage to Russia 25/07/16 - 30/07/16

Pilgrims from the London Cathedral Parish and from St Elisabeth's Parish in Wallasey as well as a number of others travelled to Russia on the 25th July 2016. The Pilgrimage was led by  Father Paul assisted by Father Vladimir. It started in St Petersburg and visited various holy sites on the way to Solovky Monastery on the shores of the White Sea in the North of Russia. 

Some photos of this pilgrimage can be found  at   http://www.russianchurchlondon.info/паломничества  

new photos may be sent to palomnik@russianchurchlondon.info

More details can be found at http://rocor.org.uk/diocesan_pilgrimage.html

 

Solovki

Troparia and Kontakia of St Sabbatius of Solovki.

Troparion — Tone 3

Thou didst abandon the world and fought the good fight / By hardship, vigil and prayer. / Pray to Christ our God to save our souls, O holy Father Sabbatius!

Kontakion — Tone 2

Fleeing the turmoil of life / thou didst dwelt on an island in the sea. / Thou didst take up thy cross and followed Christ / Toiling in vigils, fasting and hardships. / Thou didst become the adornment of the righteous / And we lovingly celebrate thy memory. / Pray to Christ our God / To save our souls, O righteous Sabbatius!

Troparion of St. Zosimas of Solovki, April 17 Tone 1

O wise Father Zosimas, / thou didst make the wilderness thy dwelling, / intent on the Kingdom of Heaven. / Thou didst live as an earthly angel in fasting, vigil and prayer. / Thy abundant tears made the wilderness sprout and blossom. / As thou hast boldness with God, / remember thy children.

Pan Orthodox Pilgrimage to St Bertram's Ilam

St Bertram
St Bertram
St Bertram
Helping to serve
Helping to serve
Helping to serve
Blessing the fast
Blessing the fast
Blessing the fast

 

There is to be a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Bertram in Ilam in Derbyshire on August 6th 2016. This is Pan Orthodox though it is organised by Father Samuel of the Antiochian Parish of St Michael which is in the Potteries. A short life of St Bertram can be found at:https://pyhiinvaeltaja.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/st-bettelin-bertram/  His Troparion is below:

Troparion for St. Bertram ~ Tone 7
O holy Bertram, ascetic of the Mercian woods, forsaking worldly wealth, thou didst give thyself to God. Through fasting and prayers by the Manifold, thou didst acquire the riches of the age to come. Pray to Christ for us, that we too may be found worthy of His Kingdom.

 The ROCOR pilgrims then went onto stay in West Kirby on the Wirral and attend the Holy Liturgy at St Elisabeth's Parish

St Winefride of Holywell

St Winefride
St Winefride
St Winefride
Pilgrimage to Holywell

Anointing at Holywell
Anointing at Holywell
Anointing at Holywell
Pilgrims at Holywell
Pilgrims at Holywell
Pilgrims at Holywell
Pilgrims at St Elisabeth's
Pilgrims at St Elisabeth's
Pilgrims at St Elisabeth's
Pilgrims from London and Merseyside meet at Holywell on the 17th December 2016

About 25 Pilgrims from the London Parish and the Parish of St Elisabeth the New Martyr, Wallasey met together at the shrine of St Winefride in Holywell, North Wales. This was organised by Alexey Koloydenko. The pilgrims had a wonderful day at Holywell. Fr Paul blessed the waters in the Holy Well then the pilgrims sang a Moleben to St Winefride. Some pilgrims went into the waters after the anointing. The full service included a Canon to the Holy Martyr Winefride which can be found on Fr Andrew's website under "Services to Western Saints". A copy of the service can be read by clicking here. It is a translation from the Slavonic by Brother Isaac Lambertson who has done so much to promote the veneration of Western Orthodox Saints, (Please pray for him at the moment as he is unwell).

Our pilgrims trod where countless pilgrims have trodden over the centuries. St Winefride's Well has been a place of pilgrimage since the 7th Century and remains one of the holiest sites in Great Britain. The Well itself sprang up at the site of the cutting off of St Winefride's head by Caradoc, her suitor whom she refused. He was so angry that he beheaded her but her saintly uncle, St Biuno, was able to restore her to life and she spent the remainder of her life in holiness. Her well has gushed forth water since then and has been a place of healing and restoration.

Hopefully, our pilgrims will visit Holywell again when they come up to St Elisabeth's or when the Diocesan Youth Camp is held (subject to Vladika Hilarion's blessing) next summer.

Our pilgrims then went to stay with Fr Paul and Matushka Elizabeth in Birkenhead where they attended Vespers in Little St Elisabeth's (in Fr Paul's house} and the Holy Liturgy the next day in the Parish Church. On the feast of St Nicholas, some of the pilgrims managed to attend a Liturgy in Little St Elisabeth's. It was a truly blessed weekend. Photos of the weekend can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6g3l8h3mza65b74/AABmoQMreFps4xrzEjYUldOca?dl=0

 

 

 

The Diocesan Pilgrimage  13th May 2017

St Alban
St Alban
St Alban
St Alban's Shrine
St Alban's Shrine
St Alban's Shrine
Diocesan Pilgrimage date 13.05.17

His Eminence Archbishop Mark has blessed there to be a Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Alban on Saturday 13th May 2017. It is hoped that as many members of the Diocese as possible will gather in St Alban's Abbey to pray at the Shrine of England's Protomartyr St Alban. The organisers hope that there will be a  Liturgy at the Shrine in the morning and a molieben in the afternoon. The Pilgrimage will be led by Archbishop Mark. We have just heard that the Dean and Chapter at St Alban's are delighted to host the Diocesan Pilgrimage there and will make the Shrine of St Alban available to us. It is hoped that coaches will come out from our Cathedral in London  after an early Hierarchal Liturgy in Chiswick. Coaches will hopefully be organised from all the Parishes of the Diocese. Father Paul will serve a Liturgy in St Alban's Abbey for pilgrims going directly to the shrine. Archbishop Mark will probably serve a Molieben to St Alban at the shrine in the early afternoon.  We should  all be able to venerate St Alban's relics as part of the service. There will be an opportunity to remember the departed of the Diocese on that day.  Further details will follow on this site.

Troparion in Tone 4

Thy holy martyr Alban in his struggle has gained the crown of life, O Christ our God;
for strengthened by Thee and with a pure heart he spoke boldly before worldly judges,
giving up his sacred head to Thee, the Judge of all. 

Further deatils of St Albans life can be found here at http://www.pravmir.com/orthodoxys-western-heritage-st-alban-the-martyr/

 

THe Life and Martyrdom of St Alban by the Venerable Bede

CHAP. VII. The Passion of St. Alban and his companions, who at that time shed their blood for our Lord.

At that time suffered St. Alban, of whom the priest Fortunatus, in the Praise of Virgins, where he makes mention of the blessed martyrs that came to the Lord from all parts of the world, says:

And fruitful Britain noble Alban rears.

This Alban, being- yet a pagan, at the time when at the bidding- of unbelieving rulers all manner of cruelty was practised against the Christians, gave entertainment in his house to a certain clerk, flying from his persecutors. This man he observed to be engaged in continual prayer and watching day and night; when on a sudden the Divine grace shining on him, he began to imitate the example of faith and piety which was set before him, and being gradually instructed by his wholesome admonitions, he cast off the darkness of idolatry, and became a Christian in all sincerity of heart. The aforesaid clerk having been some days entertained by him, it came to the ears of the impious prince, that a confessor of Christ, to whom a martyr’s place had not yet been assigned, was concealed at Alban’s house. Whereupon he sent some soldiers to make a strict search after him. When they came to the martyr’s hut, St. Alban presently came forth to the soldiers, instead of his guest and master, in the habit or long coat which he wore, and was bound and led before the judge.

It happened that the judge, at the time when Alban was carried before him, was standing at the altar, and offering sacrifice to devils. When he saw Alban, being much enraged that he should thus, of his own accord, dare to put himself into the hands of the soldiers, and incur such danger on behalf of the guest whom he had harboured, he commanded him to be dragged to the images of the devils, before which he stood, saying, “Because you have chosen to conceal a rebellious and sacrilegious man, rather than to deliver him up to the soldiers, that his contempt of the gods might meet with the penalty due to such blasphemy, you shall undergo all the punishment that was due to him, if you seek to abandon the worship of our religion.” But St. Alban, who had voluntarily declared himself a Christian to the persecutors of the faith, was not at all daunted by the prince’s threats, but putting on the armour of spiritual warfare, publicly declared that he would not obey his command. Then said the judge, “Of what family or race are you?” - “What does it concern you,” answered Alban, “of what stock I am? If you desire to hear the truth of my religion, be it known to you, that I am now a Christian, and free to fulfil Christian duties.” - “I ask your name,” said the judge; “tell me it immediately.” “I am called Alban by my parents,” replied he; “and I worship ever and adore the true and living God, Who created all things.” Then the judge, filled with anger, said, “If you would enjoy the happiness of eternal life, do not delay to offer sacrifice to the great gods.” Alban rejoined, “These sacrifices, which by you are offered to devils, neither can avail the worshippers, nor fulfil the desires and petitions of the suppliants. Rather, whosoever shall offer sacrifice to these images, shall receive the everlasting pains of hell for his reward.” The judge, hearing these words, and being much incensed, ordered this holy confessor of God to be scourged by the executioners, believing that he might by stripes shake that constancy of heart, on which he could not prevail by words. He, being most cruelly tortured, bore the same patiently, or rather joyfully, for our Lord’s sake. When the judge perceived that he was not to be overcome by tortures, or withdrawn from the exercise of the Christian religion, he ordered him to be put to death.

Being led to execution, he came to a river, which, with a most rapid course, ran between the wall of the town and the arena where he was to be executed. He there saw a great multitude of persons of both sexes, and of divers ages and conditions, who were doubtless assembled by Divine inspiration, to attend the blessed confessor and martyr, and had so filled the bridge over the river, that he could scarce pass over that evening. In truth, almost all had gone out, so that the judge remained in the city without attendance. St. Alban, therefore, urged by an ardent and devout wish to attain the sooner to martyrdom, drew near to the stream, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, whereupon the channel was immediately dried up, and he perceived that the water had given place and made way for him to pass. Among the rest, the executioner, who should have put him to death, observed this, and moved doubtless by Divine inspiration hastened to meet him at the appointed place of execution, and casting away the sword which he had carried ready drawn, fell at his feet, praying earnestly that he might rather be accounted worthy to suffer with the martyr, whom he was ordered to execute, or, if possible, instead of him. Whilst he was thus changed from a persecutor into a companion in the faith and truth, and the other executioners rightly hesitated to take up the sword which was lying on the ground, the holy confessor, accompanied by the multitude, ascended a hill, about half a mile from the arena, beautiful, as was fitting, and of most pleasing appearance, adorned, or rather clothed, everywhere with flowers of many colours, nowhere steep or precipitous or of sheer descent, but with a long, smooth natural slope, like a plain, on its sides, a place altogether worthy from of old, by reason of its native beauty, to be consecrated by the blood of a blessed martyr. On the top of this hill, St. Alban prayed that God would give him water, and immediately a living spring, confined in its channel, sprang up at his feet, so that all men acknowledged that even the stream had yielded its service to the martyr. For it was impossible that the martyr, who had left no water remaining in the river, should desire it on the top of the hill, unless he thought it fitting. The river then having done service and fulfilled the pious duty, returned to its natural course, leaving a testimony of its obedience. Here, therefore, the head of the undaunted martyr was struck off, and here he received the crown of life, which God has promised to them that love him. But he who laid impious hands on the holy man’s neck was not permitted to rejoice over his dead body; for his eyes dropped upon the ground at the same moment as the blessed martyr’s head fell. At the same time was also beheaded the soldier, who before, through the Divine admonition, refused to strike the holy confessor. Of whom it is apparent, that though he was not purified by the waters of baptism, yet he was cleansed by the washing of his own blood, and rendered worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. Then the judge, astonished at the unwonted sight of so many heavenly miracles, ordered the persecution to cease immediately, and began to honour the death of the saints, by which he once thought that they might have been turned from their zeal for the Christian faith. The blessed Alban suffered death on the twenty-second day of June, near the city of Verulam, which is now by the English nation called Verlamacaestir, or Vaeclingacaestir, where afterwards, when peaceable Christian times were restored, a church of wonderful workmanship, and altogether worthy to commemorate his martyrdom, was erected. In which place the cure of sick persons and the frequent working of wonders cease not to this day.

This website is published with the blessing of his Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion. First Hierarch of The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Ruling Hierarch of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland (ROCOR)

The website is administered by Fr Paul Elliott. Contact: frpaulelliott@aol.com

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