The Crucession five years long

In August 2011, we've published an article on this website about the Crucession in honor of saint Tsarevich-Martyr Alexey birth. This crucession was the start of another International Marine Crucession as part of the International programme "Alexander Nevsky - the Name of Russia". The Crucession has linked the holy places of Saint Petersburg with Orthodox churches dedicated to Alexander Nevsky in the Baltic countries.

The special mission of this crucession was the glorification of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and His Family, so the marine crucession has began on the day of birth of Tsarevich Alexey. A day before, two branches of the crucession have departed simultaneously from St.Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo in the direction of Lower Cottage in Peterhof, where Tsarevich was born. The branch from Petersburg has visited the holy places of St.Petersburg and arrived to Peterhof by cars. The branch from Tsarskoye Selo has walked 45 kilometers along the "Tsar's Road", connecting Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof. Both branches have joined at the Lower Cottage in the day and hour of birth of Tsarevich Alexey. On the same day, the marine crucession has started from the Lower Cottage.


The beginning of the Crucession dedicated to saint Tsarevich-Martyr Alexey birth.
11 Aug 2011. Fyodorovskiy Cathedral. Tsarskoye Selo.
(Some images are available in high resolution. Click to enlarge.)

The large oak Cross was delivered to the Lower Cottage. It was supposed to be installed on the grave of Anna Taneyeva (Vyrubova), nun Maria, the maid of honor of Tsarina-Martyr Alexandra, at the Helsinki Orthodox Cemetery.

Tsarevich Alexey birthday. The arrival of the Cross at the Lower Cottage.
12 Aug 2011. Peterhof. Saint Paul and Peter Church in Znamenka.
At the left: Sergey Sharov, the organizer of the Marine Crucession.

The plan was to go with the Cross on a yacht along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, making stops in places associated with the memory of the Holy Tsar's Family: in Primorsk (Koivisto) and in "Tsar's Park" of Virolahti.

The beginning of the marine part of the Crucession in honor of saint Alexander Nevsky.
13 Aug 2011. Strelna, yacht-club.

However, the Lord has prepared for this Cross the entirely different wonderful fate. Already at the first passage Strelna-Primorsk, the yacht was caught in a storm, and the large oak Cross was washed away by a wave off the deck. The new small pine Cross was urgently delivered to Primorsk. The replacement Cross had to be installed on the grave of nun Maria, and the oak Cross went in the water by the only God knows way.

Installation of the replacement pine Cross on the grave of the maid of honor
Anna Taneyeva (Vyrubova), nun Maria.
15 Aug 2011. Helsinki Orthodox Cemetery.

Finding the Cross floating in the waters of the Gulf of Finland in the area of 30 thousand square kilometers is more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. No one tried to search. Cross has appeared itself in two weeks. It was found at the center of the Gulf of Finland, in 120 kilometers from the place of loss, by two sailors, sailing on a small yacht from Tallinn to Loviisa.


Sailors Markku Paaso (left) and Ron Kuipers with the found Cross.
26 Aug 2011. Loviisa. (Photo: Loviisan Sanomat)

On the 2nd of September 2011, the Cross was returned to the Memorial Society of the Holy Tsar Martyrs and Anna Taneyeva in Helsinki. We all understood that we are dealing with a wonderful Providence of God, so we anxiously awaited, what the Lord will show as a new place for the Cross. However, we had to wait for five years. The Cross did not find itself a new place and was kept by the Society.


Passing the Cross to the Society of the Holy Tsar Martyrs and Anna Taneyeva. 2 Sep 2011, Loviisa.
On the photo: Galina Galkina (left), who unraveled the mystery of the found Cross, representatives of the Society: Aleksandr and Liudmila Huhtiniemi, and the Loviisa Сemetery property manager Johannes Karhu. (Photo: Loviisan Sanomat)

The main story of the recent wonderful events, unexpectedly related to the Holy Mount Athos, begins from this moment.

The Athos has always been the inextinguishable icon-lamp, from which the light of the Orthodox spiritual tradition has been repeatedly ignited in other countries. It happened sometimes, when the practice of the inner prayer has decayed in one place or another, the Athos hastened to the rescue.

To understand the significance of the Athos spiritual tradition for the Russian land, it is enough to name four of Saints. In the 11th century, St. Anthony Pechersky, coming from Mount Athos, founded the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. He is venerated in Russia as the founder of monasticism in Rus. In the 14th century, St. Sergius of Radonezh through his envoys learned the Athos hesychasm experience and updated the tradition of communal monasticism in Russia. He has founded, together with his followers, dozens of monasteries similar to the monasteries of Athos. In the 15th century, the St. Nilus of Sora brought from Mount Athos the tradition of sketes. In the 18th century, St. Paisius Velichkovsky, returning from Mount Athos, renewed the experience of inner prayer in Russia and became the founder of the school of the Holy Elders of Optina.

Similar cases of Athos influence are known in other countries. For example, recently, in front of our very eyes, the disciple of St. Joseph Hesychast Elder Ephraim of Philotheou has founded 20 new Orthodox monasteries in America. To our great joy, most recently, in the year 2013, the Athos icon-lamp was lit on the Finnish land too. It is the Foundation of the Heritage of All the Saints of Mount Athos "Panagia" in Ronni.

Pääjarvi lake view

Monastic Center "Panagia" is located in the forest on the banks of the fourth deepest in Finland lake Pääjarvi in the premises formerly belonging to the rehabilitation center for children with mental retardation. The entire Center consists of more than 20 buildings with a total residential area of ​​approximately 20000 square meters and several tens of hectares of forest. There are only ten people permanently residing in the territory of the Center, and a few assistants coming. The Center regularly organizes Orthodox educational courses, seminars, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, pilgrimages (programme in English). There are two churches opened on the premises.

Annunciation Church. Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia" in Ronni.

Annunciation Church. Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia" in Ronni.

The work on the frescoes of the future Church of St. Basil the Great.
28 May 2016. The former X-ray room of the rehabilitation center in Ronni.

When the members of the Memorial Society of the Holy Tsar Martyrs and Anna Taneyeva in Helsinki learned about Athos Foundation, it was decided to pass the Cross to the Foundation. After a long negotiation, the Cross delivery was scheduled for 28th May 2016. Imagine our surprise when, two weeks before the scheduled date, we learned that on that same day there will be the first Liturgy in Church Slavonic held in the Center by the general representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in Finland Archpriest Victor Liutik. Thus, the transfer of the Cross by God's Will occurred in an atmosphere of Liturgy.

The first Liturgy in Church Slavonic in Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia".
28 May 2016. Annunciation Church. Ronni. Serves: Archpriest Victor Liutik.

During a meal after the Liturgy, we learned about the event that plunged us into an even greater amazement. It turned out that on the same day at the Mount Athos there was a celebration in honor of the 1000th anniversary of Russian monasticism on Mount Athos, which was attended by His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill and Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, three events coincided with each other: the transfer of the Cross, the first Liturgy in Russian in Athos-Foundation Center, and the celebrations in honor of the 1000th anniversary of Russian monasticism on Mount Athos. Since the author was personally involved in the transfer of the Cross, he can assure readers that the organizers had no intention to bind together these three events. This coincidence took place without the participation of human reasoning and led all the organizers and the chairman of Athos Foundation Hannu Pöyhönen in great astonishment.

In the front: the chairman of the Athos Foundation in Ronni Hannu Pöyhönen and the chairman of the Memorial Society of the Holy Tsar Martyrs and Anna Taneyeva in Helsinki Liudmila Huhtiniemi.
Beyond them: parishioners of the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Helsinki.
28 May 2016. Ronni. (Photo: Dmitry Laamonen)

Such an explicit participation of God's Providence has become a great support for the founders of the Athos Foundation. The maintenance of the Center is connected with the enormous difficulties and temptations. And this event is as if the Lord said to them, "Do not worry, I am with you!"

The happened event is at the same time deeply symbolic. It can be understood as an indication of God on the need of unity among all the children of the Holy Church, seeking salvation in the centuries-old Orthodox tradition, regardless of nationality. The five-year Crucession has united the members of the Brotherhood of St. Alexander Nevsky at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, the participants of the Crucession in honor of the holy martyr Tsarevich Alexey birth, the participants of the Marine Crucession in honor of St. Alexander Nevsky, the members of the Memorial Society of the Holy Tsar Martyrs and Anna Taneyeva in Helsinki, the members of the Parish of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Helsinki, and the founders of the Foundation of the Heritage of All the Saints of Mount Athos in Ronni.

The scheme of the Crucession. Red denotes the approximate route of the International Marine Crucession in honor of St. Alexander Nevsky and the Holy Tsar Martyrs. Blue denotes the approximate path of the "walking on waters" of the lost Cross. The break in the blue line indicates the place of finding the Cross. Golden shows the way of transportation of the Cross from Loviisa to Ronni by car.
(Click on the scheme to download the image in a higher resolution.)

At the same time, the Crucession, which began with the miraculous "walking on waters" of the lost Cross and ended after five years on the day of the 1000th anniversary of Russian monasticism on Mount Athos in Athos Center "Panagia", has connected many holy places by one thread: the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, the Tsar's Fyodorovskiy Cathedral of Tsarskoye Selo, the Church of St. Andrew of Crete in the village of Sergeyevka, the Lower Cottage in Peterhof, the birthplace of the Tsarevich Alexey, the Church of the Holy apostles Peter and Paul in Znamenka, the Tsar's Park in Virolahti, a summer resort of the Holy Tsar Family, the grave of Anna Taneyeva, the nun Maria, in the Helsinki Orthodox Cemetery, the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Helsinki, the Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia" in Ronni and, finally, the very Holy Mount Athos.

The Сross in the narthex of the Annunciation Church.
28 May 2016. Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia" in Ronni.

The Сross, placed in front of the church of St. Cosmas of Aetolia.
9 July 2016. Athos-Foundation monastic Center "Panagia" in Ronni.

"Wonderful are Thy works, O Lord!"

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