Religious procession to the place of burial of martyrs Arkadiy and Constantine, the wonder-makers of Shamary

July 2007

1. Orthodox Old Belivers arrive at the railway station of Shamary village, Sverdlovskaya oblast. Later in the evening they shall be meeting the Metropolitan, who is arriving by car from Ekaterinburg.

2. The procession starts from the Temple. The sun is hot. We are walking for 6 hours along the road. We are praying and reading Psalms all the way to Platonovo. Praying helps us to overcome tiredness. The distance between Shamary and our goal - Platonovo - is about 24 km.

3. Pilgrims arrive at the St. Arcady and St. Konstantine tomb. A wooden chapel raises above the tomb. At some distance from the chapel icy cold water flows from the spring. People tell each other of miraculous healings which took place here. After unbearable heat and long way i can not stop drinking icy water. But... there will be no smallest sign of sore throat the next day. Some of the pilgrims prepare boats and wooden rafts. They are going downstream back to Shamary.

4. The local Old Believers invite pilgrims to their homes. Anatoly is our landlord. He is giving shelter to a group of pilgrims in his large wooden house. In the middle of the house stands large russian oven serving as a bed to one of the guests. Anatoly is a father of three sons. He runs a small saw-mill in his barn. The work is hard. It is not easy to move huge logs. Anatoly works alone. He owns a large plot but is able to cultivate only a small part of it. Old Believers are hard-workers. They don't smoke and drink moderately, mostly red wine. Unlike other places in Russia here you can see elderly men walking along the streets! It is amazing thing taking into account the fact that average life expectancy of a man in Russia is only 59 years so you will not see a single elderly man in Moscow metro. Many families in Shamary have five and more children. Old Believers are suspicious to such "benefits" as television. Lage part of Shamary population are Old Believers. But the ruling Moscow Patriarchate has a rival new-rite temple in this small village and people say that plans exist to reopen a new-rite missionary monastery here! Is the ruling new-rite Russian Church keen to wipe Old Rite Russian Church off the face of the earth? If this occures, the final result will be that Chinese come and replace the Russians in this country. According to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in 19th Century there were 12 million of Orthodox Old Believers in Russia. Solzhenitsyn thinks that Old Believers represent the best part of Russian people. Many modern researchers share the opinion that the 20th Century disasters of Russia are the consequences of 17th Century schism of Russian Orthodox Church.

5. Yesterday we bowed to St. Constantine and St. Arcady near Platonovo village, and today we are back to Shamary. It is the morning service in the Temple of Shamary. We are celebrating the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. It is my last day in Shamary. After the service i must take a train and return to Moscow.

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