The Activities of the Pilgrimage Department of the Diocese of Simferopol and the Crimea
The services being provided
At present the traveling about the sacred places — pilgrimage — is getting more and more popular. One cannot but note that recently at the roads of Crimea and at different cultural objects there have appeared the buses with icons and the plates with the inscription “pilgrims”. It cannot but gladden as Crimea, as it is known, has not only the favorable climate and natural characteristics, but it is also the cradle of the Orthodoxy. All of you know well that St. Apostle Andrew the First-Called used to preach the Gospel in Crimea, there the Roman bishop Clement was exiled and accepted the death of a martyr, from the ancient Chersonese St. Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir brought to Rus the light of the Orthodoxy.
At present visiting the sacred places for many people is the way to finding the faith, the way to the Church. Reviving the pilgrimage it is important not to lose touch with the spiritual principles of the Orthodox Holy Tradition, to remember about the aim and deep spiritual sense of this ancient church tradition. This is why the officers of the Pilgrimage Department of the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese, arranging and conducting the trips, try to explain people from the very first minutes, what the pilgrimage is, to pay the particular attention to the subject area, selection of the objects being visited, the combination of the natural, cultic and historic monuments. Also a very important thing is that for deeper pilgrims’ acquaintance with separate objects one invites several churching accompanying specialists (according to the profile). Trip conduct regularity has an important meaning as well.
Due to Metropolitan Lazarus’s efforts the Orthodox monasteries and temples are revived and opened. It leads to the creation of new pilgrimage routes. Besides this, active joint work being done by the officers of the Pilgrimage Department with the Crimean archeologists, local history experts, historians also leads to the creation of new pilgrimage routes.
At present we have already worked out more than 100 routes about the Crimea, whose description you can find at this official site.
It should be noted that one day route duration is usually 8–10 hours, individual and group applications are accepted, in case there are group applications the departure is possible from any town of Crimea. During the travels one plans stops and rest by the sea, in the picturesque corners of the peninsula. For the pilgrims of other towns it is possible to make up pilgrimage programs, to arrange accommodation and nourishment. It is possible to conduct the pilgrimage routes and programs in the Russian, English, Greek, French and German languages.
The creation, arrangement and conduct of the pilgrimage routes helps to involve the local residents to the pilgrimage, and for the pilgrims of other towns, coming to Crimea, it will allow to make programs with diverse selection of the objects, what is interesting both for those who have already been to Crimea time and again, and also for those people who visit it for the first time.
And for more visual acquaintance with the routes arranged by the Pilgrimage Department of the Simferopol and Crimean Diocese I offer you to join us and to take part in the trips, both in one day trips, and in days-long programs.
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Orthodox Crimea. Orthodox pilgrimage to Crimea.
Christianity appeared in Crimea in I c. A.D., when St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle preached Christ’s Word by going about Taurida having obtained Scythia and the Northern Black Sea Region by lot. The Christian history of the Crimean Peninsula is also closely connected with other saints, whose prayer deed converted many people to Christianity. One cannot but remember the first followers, the St. Apostle’s disciples: their names are Inna, Pinna and Rimma. These names are masculine. Having taken holy baptism, they preached Christianity in the pagan Scythia. Having come with their preaching to the Danube they were cruelly drowned. The church legend says that their imperishable relics repose in Alushta.
Priest-martyr Clement, the Pope of Rome, was exiled to Crimea to work in the stone quarries of Inkerman. His name is connected with the appearance of Inkerman Monastery which is considered to be one of the most ancient. Later the cloister was consecrated on the name of its founder.
A considerable contribution to the Orthodox development in Crimea was made by the Slavic Illuminators, Brothers Cyril and Methodius. During their stay in the Chersoneses they found some mysterious signs which had been used to write the books sacred for the Christians – the Gospel and Psalter. The deciphering of the signs gave a powerful impetus to the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet in 863.
It was in Crimea, in the Chersonese, where in 988 the Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev took holy baptism, and it was Crimea where the Orthodoxy came to Rus from.
Without belief in God, without religion there is no base for moral life which is so important for the society in our time of political difficulties, economic instability, market relations, when we come across many obstacles and often suffer from the lack of spiritual forces.
The Orthodox pilgrimage often helps us to find these forces and to find our way to the Church. The pilgrimage is a spiritual work, a special spiritual endeavor. The pilgrim’s main goal is to visit the sacred place, reverence should be his/her main feeling. The sense of the pilgrimage is revealed in the prayer, liturgy, worship in sacred places, and there are many of them in Crimea.
Hierarch Innocent (Borisov), Archbishop of Kherson and Taurida, said: «As if Crimea were created to be our Russian Athos…»
Visiting medieval rocky monasteries, we see in them a strong resemblance to the Greek ones, but unlike the Athos ones they can be visited by women. That person who can gather himself/herself up and rise there despite the absence of good roads and approaches is waited by the unforgettable contact with the strict and pure monastic life which used to be led by the holy zealots of the ancient times.
Most of all the pilgrims and local dwellers venerate the ancient cloisters, these are: the Holy Assumption Bakhchisaray Monastery, where there was shown the miracle-working Crimean Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God; The Monastery of the Saint Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian near Alushta, on the territory of which there is a healing spring; the Annunciation Monastery on the Southern slope of Mangup: on the top of the mount there used to be the capital of the ancient Christian Princedom Theodoro (XII-XV cc.); Toplov Trinity and Parasceva Convent with healing holy springs and fonts; St. George Monastery on the Cape of Fiolent, whose history is connected with the names of many outstanding personalities: Emperors Alexander I and Nicholas II, the outstanding Russian poet Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, and others. St. George Monastery played an important role in the spiritual life of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
In our time it is very important to remember that without belief and morality there is no patriotism. Visiting the sacred places of Sevastopol or Kerch, one cannot but bow to the warriors’ heroic deed who selflessly defended our land in the cruel battles. That is why working out pilgrimage trips the officers of the Pilgrimage Department, which functions in Simferopol and Crimean Diocese with the blessing of Metropolitan Lazarus of Simferopol and Crimea, have named one of their programs about Sevastopol «And the Peaceful Call of Sacred Places and the Glory of Citadels». The program includes visiting sacred and memorable places, connected with the defense of Sevastopol. One can read it on the official site of Simferopol and Crimean Diocese.
Coming to Crimea one should start getting acquainted with the sacred places of the Peninsula from Simferopol – the Capital of the Republic. In Simferopol there are many Orthodox churches. This is St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral. The legend says, that this church was built on the same place, where staff tent of A.V. Suvorov stood during Crimean campaign in 1770. Also this is the first temple of the city – the Church of Constantine and Helen. In it Catherine II used to pray during her travel to Crimea (1787). Now it is possible to visit St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, recreated in the very center of the Crimean Capital. The temple was exploded in 1930. Now under the patronage of the President of Russia with the endeavors of Metropolitan Lazarus there are being finished the works on the restoration and decoration of this majestic sacred place. Here at this cathedral one can bow down to the relics of the Crimean Saint Gurias (Karpov), the Archbishop of Taurida and Simferopol. The Right Reverend Gurias did a lot for the Diocese of Taurida: he founded the Theological Seminary of Taurida, carried on a lot missionary activities, resisted different sects. For his work he was given many church and state awards. Knowing the Chinese language, the church hierarch Gurias translated the New Testament, Psalter, a row of service books into it. In the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the active convent one can bow down to the relics of the Hierarch and Confessor Lucas of Crimea (secular name Valentin Felixovich Voyno-Yasenetsky). He used to be the Archbishop and surgeon. With all his life he showed the example of combining the service of the archpastor and doctor. With the hierarch’s prayers there have been performed and are performed numerous miracles of healings from spiritual and bodily ailments, the changes of people’s spiritual state in praise of God.
When people come to Crimea, to this unique place with the beautiful nature, caressing sun and warm sea we would like people to discover the Orthodox Crimea as well.
the Pilgrimage Organizer in Crimea
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