In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
Thus the Muscovites asked Grand Prince Vasily, who was ruling the princedom of Moscow at the time, to send an ambassador to Vladimir, where was preserved the great Orthodox treasure, the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God—according to tradition, painted by the hand of St. Luke the Evangelist. Then, here, on the very ground where we are now [the Sretensky Monastery], which was once called Kuchkovo Field, the Muscovites met this ambassador with the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God, and weeping prayed to the Heavenly Queen that she might spare Moscow, spare the Russian people. They prayed for forgiveness of their sins, because the Lord only fulfills repentant prayer, and the Mother of God only answers repentant tears. And apparently our ancestors had great spiritual strength, because they were able to reach the throne of God through their prayers. The Mother of God saw the Russian people’s repentance, that they had become capable of receiving the Kingdom of Heaven, that they were worthy not only of this temporal life but also of eternal life, and she granted them both temporal and eternal blessings.
At this late hour, when the Muscovites were praying before the icon of the Mother of God, 100 kilometers from Moscow Tamerlane was sleeping in his camp on the Oka River. As the Chronicle tells us, he woke up and announced to his closest councilors that he had seen a terrifying dream—a radiant Woman appeared to him surrounded by the apostles (as they explained to him later) and told him to leave the regions of Moscow or he will lose his life. This vision so terrified the unconquered warrior who had never experienced defeat that although the road to Moscow was opened to him (since the Prince of Moscow was able to gather only a small army), although he knew that the Muscovite forces did not amount to much, he was horrified and afraid for his own life. So he turned to the south, to the Don River, destroying villages and cities on his way. That is how Moscow was saved by a miracle of God; the house of the Mother of God—Russia—was saved. If Tamerlane had destroyed Moscow then as he had destroyed the Indian and Persian cities, who knows what would have happened to Russia.
600 years have passed since that day, when thankful Muscovites founded the Sretensky Monastery here, on the site of the meeting of the icon of the Mother of God. Before the revolution, the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God was carried in procession from the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin to this place, the Sretensky Monastery, all in the procession praying to the Mother of God that she would have mercy on all Orthodox peoples in Russia, regardless of the many errors that happened many times in our fatherland’s history. And only when repentant prayer died away did a new trial come, a new mercy of God—this time one of the cross and martyrdom—in order to renew the spirit of Holy Rus’, so that the inhabitants of holy Rus’ would not simply live on this earth, but prepare through their lives to receive Kingdom of Heaven and become its citizens after death. In this is that main task of the Orthodox Church and the pre-revolutionary Orthodox state—to conduct its citizens to the Kingdom of Heaven; this is what we should be striving for now.
One holy hierarch who reposed in the twentieth century said, “You don’t need to look for Holy Russia—you have to live in it.” And by the mercy of God we live in it, in the Holy Orthodox Church, which alone can give us peace, comfort, meaning in this life, and eternal salvation. Amen!
For the 600 year anniversary of Sretensky Monastery on September 8, 1997
Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov)