HISTORY:Description 6

One of the witnesses who took part in the religious ceremony described it as follows: “The rumour about the restoration of the ancient sacred places had already spread throughout our mountains since spring and it rejoiced all those who held those places in high esteem. They were really worth setting up again from ruins and recovering their initial magnificence. That is why, since early August, faithful visitors and pilgrims gathered in the cavern of the Dormition. On 13th of August bishop Innokenti arrived and on 14th of August even the revered starets bishop, the Greek Metropolitan Agathangel, came from Sebastopol to represent the old Mount Athos and to consecrate the new. As the church became extremely crowded Vigils took place on a small square in front of it so that the people sitting in rows all over the mount be able not only to hear but also to watch the religious ceremony.

At the right moment the clergy and all the people present received the Holy Unction from Archbishop Innokenti, and those who were at the foot of the Mount were anointed by the other two archpriests. The ceremony started at 5.00 p.m. and continued until midnight in the only light of candles brought by the people and lit by their inextinguishable faith. It reminded of the first Christians’ gatherings for prayer time in caverns and deserts.

On 15th of August, in the cathedral of Bakhchisaray, the local archpriest Konstantin Spirandi celebrated the first liturgy, and at 9.00 a.m. the religious procession made for the rock, taking a very narrow and meandering road, bordered by the eaves of virgin rocks on one side and by the peaceful shadows of those thick woods so widely spread in Bakhchisaray, on the other side. The clergymen dressed in white and coming from different counties of Crimea, the great number of horse mounted men and street lamps as well as the choir singing in festive garments provided the procession a remarkable glamour. But the main attraction of the procession was the holy icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, offered by the Kiev Lavra for the blessing of the new monastery in Crimea. The two eldest archpriests in the procession were carrying the icon. At the foot of the rock the future dwellers of the monastery welcomed the bishop with crosses and blessed water. The Divine Liturgy began at the same moment on the rock and was celebrated by the bishop and Metropolitan Agathangel. At the end of the divine service, Archbishop Innokenti, the Metropolitan and all the clergymen made the traditional prayer for the foundation of a new monastery in front of the Dormition temple.

Later, the two bishops raised a wooden cross with the inscription of the monastery’s opening date. Archbishop Innokenti went into the ambo and delivered a sermon imbued with the depth of pastoral feelings which highly impressed the audience:

“What is the reason for our being here?” – he asked – “In front of us we have the rock and its seemingly antediluvian peak, behind we have the cliffs with their inaccessible height, all around us, the woods and the desert. And all these pilgrims flowed towards these rocks and cliffs and gathered into this desert. What is the reason for your coming here, brothers? I am sure that you are not here for any material reason or interest. What could you expect to find in this desert? It is not for the body or for food’s sake that you came here either; what kind of food could you find among these barren rocks? The real reason for our being here is our strong faith in our Lord and Saviour whose name is magnified in this place; what brings us here is our ardent love for His All Holy Mother who chose this rock as her dwelling place by the apparition of her icon a long time ago. In the name of the Lord and of His All Holy Mother we bless you, our brothers, for your faith and for the efforts you are making now and you made every year, even at times when everybody withdrew from this sacred place.

Despite all the hardships and all contrary circumstances you went on believing and loving this holy rock. Now the Lord fulfilled your wish: this place that you mostly love will recover its ancient rank and magnificence.

From now on, being able to visit this place all the time you will find here not only the prayer and the divine service, but also the monastic way of life according to the Athonite rule. Who has not heard about this marvelous mount where day and night, thousands of kind and humble anchorites address their fervent prayers to the Lord for peace on Earth? From now on we shall have the consolation to find the image of the old Athos within the very confines of our country.

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