21 March 2017

Russian Orthodox Procession through the Streets of St Petersburg [Крестный ход в честь св. Александра Невского]


When someone speaks dismissively of the Russian Orthodox Church, it is hard to convey to one predisposed to hate all things Russian how this Church is alive! — a living community and tradition that did not get destroyed by the Communists, a community which maintained its liturgical life in continuity with that which obtained before 1917 to the best of their ability. This stands in contrast with the Roman Catholic Church's Latin Rite which in the 1960's and 1970's began to throw away their living tradition without any human oppressor forcing the changes.

Sometimes words simply cannot convey what it means for a Church to be a living community that carries its faith to the streets. I find that Roman Catholics in the Anglophone world have little memory or recollection of the great processions on Corpus Christi and on Saints Days and Feasts that occurred in the most humble of cities.  That world is largely lost to us though in a few places traditions persist.

Bearing in mind that the Russian Orthodox Church was all but destroyed (and setting aside for the moment the Russian Orthodox treatment of the Byzantine Catholics of the Ukraine) let us consider what a miracle it is for them to organise and lead Processions of the Cross through the streets of a great city with thousands participating.  Here in Saint Petersburg, the Procession celebrating the transfer of the relics of St Alexander Nevsky embraces Kazan Cathedral, Trinity Lavra Cathedral, and the City itself.

Oh to see this sort of public demonstration of the faith in the Anglophone world!

Крестный ход в честь св. Александра Невского  
The procession dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky

В праздник перенесения мощей святого благоверного князя Александра Невского в Санкт-Петербурге бьются два молитвенных сердца – Казанский кафедральный собор и Троицкий собор лавры. Эти две точки втягивают в орбиту своего молитвенного порыва весь исторический центр города на Неве.