Venerating relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Sergiev Posad

Pilgrims come to venerate St. Sergius’ relics in the Holy Trinity Cathedral
«Pilgrims come to venerate St. Sergius’ relics in the Holy Trinity Cathedral» - See photo in Gallery
Every day, all day long, pilgrims come to Holy Trinity Lavra (high rank of a monastery) in Sergiev Posad and venerate St. Sergius’ relics in the white stone cathedral of Holy Trinity built in 1425 by the efforts of the closest disciple and successor of St. Sergius, venerable St. Nikon. Prayers are nonstop here from 5 AM until late evening.

Already in lifetime of Sergius of Radonezh he was revered as a saint. According the legends numerous miracles took place and many people were cured by St. Sergius prayers. Gradually he became famous all over the country. Many pilgrims as well as suffering and poor people came to him for consolidation.For a long time the number of the monks in the monastery of St. Sergius was limited to twelve. Then new candidates arrived and the community began to grow. The saint refused no one the right to enter the monastery. Among his disciples and followers there are about 70 canonized saints. In central and north-eastern part of Russia they founded about 50 monasteries, which became centers of orthodox piety and spiritual enlightenment. 

The Road to the Holy Trinity Cathedral
«The Road to the Holy Trinity Cathedral» - See photo in Gallery
The white stone Holy Trinity cathedral was constructed on the place of the initial wooden church, built by Sergius, where he was also buried. In 1422, during the process of building the stone church, the holy relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh were uncovered, and it was discovered that after 30 years, his relics remained incorrupt.
Old Testament Trinity (1420s)
«Old Testament Trinity (1420s)» - See photo in Gallery
St. Nikon commissioned the famous iconographers (painters, painter-theologians) Andrei Rublev and Daniel the Black to paint the newly built cathedral. Specifically for the iconostasis, Andrei Rublev (St. Andrew) painted the icon of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the greatest works of Orthodox iconography.St. Sergius’ relics were placed in a reliquary in his Holy Trinity Church (at the right on the picture), readily accessible for veneration. The silver shrine is outstanding work of decorative art in its own right, was produced in 1585 by orders of Ivan IV the Terrible. In the 18th century a Baroque canopy (donation from Elizabeth, daughter of peter the Great) was set over the shrine and a railing was erected around it. A never ending line of pilgrims attracted to this place by a common desire to bow to the remains which are holy for each Russian, vividly illustrates the vital character of the idea of unity formulated by the saint. Ever since the discovery of his incorrupt relics, untold numbers of healings and other miracles have occurred.

Despite the invariable presence of numerous believers, the interior of the cathedral evokes a state of concentration. One is overwhelmed by the expectation of a miracle at the tomb of the saint. The interior owes much of this special atmosphere to the thoroughly calculated system of lighting. The long but narrow windows, with all their large dimensions are located so high that they are practically unnoticed and do not let much light in it.  The resulting semidarkness corresponds to the edifying words of St. Cyril of Belozerye, one of the pillars of the Orthodox Church: “… stand in the church with fear and trepidation”. The Interior of the ancient Russian church always strikes with the richness of decoration as compared to the laconic exterior appearance of the church. That is an image of how the simplicity of the soul, artlessness and openness of a Christian is united with the richness of the interior life in God.

Long restoration works is going now in the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad preparing for the 700th anniversary of the birth of St. Sergius. The monastery and all Russian people are going to celebrate this event  next year, on May 14, 2014. 

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