четвртак, 04. новембар 2010.

Pilgrimage to Lesna and Canonization

Of the Venerable Ekaterina of Lesna
Lesna Monastery, September/October 2010
Bishops with clergy, monastics and girls - pupils of the “Holy Royal Martyrs” Church School – Group Photograph of Participants of the Glorification of Ekaterina of Lesna – Lesna Monastery of Our Most Holy Lady – Provemont, France
The merciful Lord deemed us His unworthy servants to be present at a great and meaningful spiritual festival in the Russian True Orthodox monastery of Lesna, set in the colorful, rustic areas of the fruitful and very beautiful seaside lands of Normandy (France).  Twelve people arrived from Serbia for this great celebration, from whom the official guests were Hieromonk Akakije and the Abbess of New Stjenik Monastery, Mother Efrosinia, with two nuns, and eight other pilgrims.

The pilgrims from Serbia traveled to Normandy by air and land. Two New Stjenik nuns with one lay woman arrived a few days early in order to help the Lesna sisters with prepаrations for the feast, while the main group, traveling with two cars for nearly two days and one night, through Hungary, Austria, and Germany, arrived late in the night on the first day of Lesna’s week-long celebration. There we realized that many official guests had already arrived at Lesna Monastery, bishops of the Russian True Orthodox Church, many priests, and also many pilgrims. As time passed at the monastery more and more people arrived.

All journeyed many kilometers from different countries and continents – from Russia, Belorussia, the Ukraine, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, England, America and Australia - to take place in this unusual event. Many new acquaintances were made, and old ones joyfully renewed, especially from the great Russian True Orthodox Sobor in Odessa in 2008, when a delegation from the Serbian True Orthodox Church, led by Fr Akakije, met the bishops, priests, monks, nuns and many faithful of the RTOC. There was an especially heartfelt meeting with the Lesna sisters, at whose monastery we no longer feel like guests. 

With socializing, prayer, and long services, we awaited Saturday afternoon, when the first part of the canonization of Ekaterina of Lesna began – the last panikhida - and immediately afterwards, the festive Vespers with Matins.  As is dictated by the Orthodox typikon for glorifications or canonizations of new saints, already during the vespers and matins were chanted hymns dedicated to the newly-glorified God-pleaser, Venerable Ekaterina of Lesna.  The high point of the canonization was after the polyeleos and before the magnification of the saint, when the cover was taken off of the icon on which her image had been depicted. Archbishop Tikhon solemnly removed the cover, and then the icon was festally raised up while all chanted the magnification of the saint: “We bless thee, Venerable Mother Ekaterina, and we venerate thy holy memory, for thou dost pray for us to Christ our God!“

In this moment of the canonization, something completely strange and exceptional happened.  That is, according to the dictates of typikon, the icon should be raised by priests. Archbishop Tikhon, however, blessed the icon to be raised by three abbesses: Mother Macrina of Lesna, Catacomb Abbess Mother Makaria, and Mother Efrosinia. The first represented Lesna Monastery itself, as well as the monastics of the Russian Church Abroad, the second, the monastics of the Russian Catacomb Church, and the third, our Mother Efrosinia of New Stjenik, Serbian monastics. Truly, the raising of the icon by three abbesses was especially moving and symbolic, as the Venerable Ekaterina of Lesna, after emigrating from Russia which had been captured by the godless revolutionaries, was a Church Abroad nun in tight connection with the martyric confessing Catacomb Church, and was especially famous as a reviver of Serbian monasticism.

The next morning, the hierarchical Liturgy was served with the festive celebratory procession, in which the icon of the newly-glorified God-pleaser, the Venerable Ekaterina, was carried. A description in words or even in pictures cannot express the power and spiritual beauty of this extraordinary event.

The New Stjenik sisterhood is very pleased that the representatives of our monastery participated in the official glorification of the Venerable Mother Ekaterina of Lesna, renewer of Serbian monasticism (see a short life of the saint with a history of Lesna monastery). In the future, New Stjenik monastery will celebrate the newly-glorified Saint with great honor.


Hierarchs of the RTOC reading the decree of the glorification of Ekaterina of Lesna
Icon with cover
The Most Reverend Archbishop Tikhon and hieromonk Tikon during the service
Three abbesses raising the icon of the newly-glorified saint
Two icons: The newly-glorified Ekaterina of Lesna and the Wonder-working Icon of Our Lady of Lesna
Prayer with the lighting of candles

The procession went through a part of the monastery forest

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