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2009 Summer Report

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Kursk Root Icon returns to It's Home Roots

The Kursk Root Icon will enter Russia on September 11th 2009 and be in Korennaya Hermitage on the 25th. The Icon is returning to its Home roots at the exact location where it was found in 12th centuary. Many people are planning to join in with the return Procession of the Kursk Root Icon to the Kursk Znamensky Monastery. I have heard lots of expressions of the happiness and excitement as so many want to venerate and pray to with the Icon.  Some people are afraid that they may not get a chance to venerate the Icon because of the amount of Orthodox Christians that will be attending the procession and services and the short amount of time the Kursk Root Icon will stay in Russia.

Everyone at the Kursk Root Hermitage are busy getting ready for this Holy Celebration in the Kursk. More Orthodox Christians will venerate the Holy Kursk Root Icon on just one day than this Icon has received in many years. It will travel to Moscow on September 11th 2009 and make its way to the Korennaya Hermitage for the return procession to the Kursk Znamensky Monastery. Korennaya Monastery is getting ready for a very large turnout on the return of the Kursk Root Icon to it's roots.

I was not able to stay in Russia for this special return of the icon to its home roots.  I have no photos to post because I lost my computer on my return trip home thru Ukraine and my backup disk was also in the computer bag.  If God is willing to allow me to return to Russia I’ll add some photos to the web site. Then we will see the completed images of the monastery Stone Church, not just some work in progress pictures.  I’ll post some if I receive any new photos from Russia.

New Stone Church

The New Stone Church is almost complete and it will be one of the most beautiful churches in all of Russia. Everyone is busy getting it ready for the Kursk Root Icon's return.  This Church will be beautiful with its all-stone interior. The large statue of Saint Seraphim of Sarov looks small now next to the tall walls of the new Stone Church. The floors of this church will have white and black marble with beautiful marble inlays on the floor.

The Church is built just like the old stone Church that the communist tore down. The Church was able to be rebuilt on a some of the old foundation walls. The New Stone Church fills up the courtyard very nicely with the back of the Church facing the hill down to the Holy Kursk Root Springs. The large statue of St. Seraphim of Sarov looks very small next to the New Stone Church.  New brick walkways are also being installed in the courtyard area in front of the new stone Church.

New Abbot's Building

The Abbots building is now completed and in use. It is located next to the new stone Church and across the courtyard from the monastery’s old main Church.  It has the same stone quality as the Korennaya Hotel that was completed last year and is located at the top front gates. I only saw that the lower level was completed and in use but I am assuming that the upper floor is also done but I did not see anyone going up to the upper floor.

I only got to speak with Abbot Benjamin briefly this summer, as he was very busy with the Monastery business.  He asked us about translating a movie he had made about the Korennaya Hermitage into English but we did not receive a DVD that could be worked with before we left for home.  Maybe next summer if God is willing we can start this for him.

New Monastery Dipping Tanks

A brand new dipping tank for the Kursk Root Spring was built this year. It has two separate dipping tanks and is located on the river bank.  The spring water flows steadily to each tank all throughout the day.  This helps keep the tanks full with fresh water. The tanks are cleaned each evening and are in good condition all day. The new dipping tanks are open to the public all week long but towards the end of the summer on busy weekends they were too busy to keep the water clean. I’m sure they will have to limit or change the guidelines to handle the busy days.  It was very nice to have the tanks open all day.

There are seven Holy Springs on the Monastery grounds along the lower river area.  When the springs get updated and rebuilt in the coming years, these Holy Springs will be a treasure when you visit the Korennaya Monastery, as each Holy Spring has it’s special blessing for each visitor.

Three New Bookstores

The monastery has added smaller bookstores at the front gate, the Bell Tower, and the Kursk Root Spring. The large Monastery bookstore sells all kinds of Church items and is still located just below the old main Church and the new stone Church. The front gate bookstore and the lower spring bookstore sale icons and miscellaneous Christian items and the Bell Tower Bookstore mostly sell Christian books.

The lower Kursk Root Spring Church was open to the public every afternoon for venerating icons and praying.  This is the lower Church where the original Spring comes from the ground. They only sold candles and took names for the alter prayers and this was how they also did it at the main monastery Church.  The Holy Kursk Root Spring water is very popular with the Christians of the Kursk Region and even more people will be visiting the Monastery when they repair and improve the other Holy Springs from this monastery.

New Stairs Behind The Monastery

New cement stairs have been added to the backside of the Monastery just behind the old main Church. They are wide and very solid but steep. Now the new security guards direct people who are not dressed properly (summer clothing) to turn left at the Bell Tower and bypass the courtyard and Churches. It is a faster way to reach the spring and river but has no place to sit and rest and of course you don’t have all the beauty of the main part of the monastery.

New Security at The Monastery

More security has been added to the Korennaya Hermitage.  They have put guards on the two side gates of the monastery to keep cars from entering the monastery and going down to the springs and river area.  They have also added a guard at the front gate, at the bell tower, and the lower spring by the stairs up to the courtyard. They also don’t let anyone beg for money on the monastery grounds unless someone has received prior blessing from the Abbott.

This monastery has been open to all the public for many years now.  The guards are helping with people that arrive at the monastery not dressed properly to enter the courtyard area. The guards are very nice but firm and explain to the people why they can’t enter the courtyard. They have also added signs on the front gates and the Bell Tower about the monastery dress code. The dress code will become less of an issue in the coming years. I like the added security and less contact with beggars and drunks.

St. Joakim and Anna Church Domes

I enjoy attending this Church it has such big and beautiful Icons throughout the Church.  They have completed the four additional domes on top of the Church.  It has made the Saints Joakim & Anna Church look just as it did a hundred years ago.  They have started a complete painting or sparckling on all of the outside walls of the Church. They are also getting ready to build a new Christian school for children on the Church grounds.

Night Trip to Belgorod

A Monastery Priest, Fr. Aristarkh right after he heard about me wanting for the last two summers to visit St. Seraphim of Belgrade.  He had received a visit from a nun that he has known over the years from the Belgorod Church and she told him that he should right down her phone number, as he might need it.  So he did take her number but not really sure why he might ever need to call her.  After he heard about me he knew that we should travel at night and visit Belgorod Church and then visit Elder Seraphirm of Belgorod grave on the way back to the monastery. 

It took the priest two hours of praying before he had totally convinced himself it was the right thing to do that night, as he had to do confessions in the morning at 7:00am.  So we were off just after midnight.  Belgorod is about a 2.5 hour drive to the Southeast of the Monastery.  We stopped by the small St. Seraphim of Sarov Church in Kursk for a quick prayer as we headed of to Belgorod. 

Everything went perfect as we got to the old Church in Belgorod. The nun with the help of the night watchman opened the Church for us.  Fr. Aristarkh had brought fresh Holy Kursk Root Spring Water for them. Visiting this Church at night reminded us of going to night services in St. Anthony’s Monastery in AZ.  It was a very special visit as the Church was so peaceful and we did a service and venerated the relics of St. Ioasaf of Belgorod.

After thanking the nun and night watchman we were off to visit Elder Seraphim of Belgrade place of service and reposeat the at about an hour drive outside of Belgrade.  The Priest left the side gate open so we could get inside the Church area.  We found Elder Seraphim of Belgrade resting place at the side of the Church where he was serving.  We had a short memorial service for Elder Seraphim but had to quickly start back for the Monastery as the sun was just starting to come up now.  We made good time, as the roads were not busy at this time of the night. We had just enough time as we were coming back thru Kursk to say a thank you prayer at the small Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov and we made it back to the Monastery with twenty minutes before Fr. Aristarkh needed to start taking confessions. 

I asked Fr. Aristarkh if it was a dream or did we really just visit Belgorod!  I had wanted to visit Belgorod for a few years now, ever since we had received an old picture of Elder Seraphim from Elder John of Korennaya a few years back.  What a special spiritual trip it was that night as no one even got tired as we traveled on our night pilgrimage to venerate the saints.

Trip to Ukraine

We flew a different route this year to get to Kursk.  We flew to Kiev, Ukraine, as I had never been to Ukraine before. We flew to Moscow and then changed planes to reach Kiev.  We spent three days in the Caves Monastery in Kiev and one afternoon at Blagoveschensky Cathedral in Kharkov, Ukraine. Both towns had very nice old Churches and we found other Churches by the Blagoveschensky Cathedral on our return trip thru Ukraine.

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