Eleven students of Eton College, the most privileged English school, visited Russia on a personal, non-official tour that included Moscow and St. Petersburg. The students became acquainted with their Russian counterparts, and also met with President Vladimir Putin. Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Egorievsk, Father Superior of Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, talked with a correspondent of Pravoslavie.ru about how the trip was organized, and gave his impressions of the young British men.
Confession is the simplest way to learn what people think about and to understand their problems or concerns. I am very happy when people view their bishop as their father. I am happy when I know that people can come to my church and find me there to tell me about their problems.
Vladimir Igorevich Bogachev, doctor of physical and mathematical sciences and professor at Moscow State Lomonosov University, spoke about science, faith and leading scientists who became confessors of Orthodoxy in the 20th century: petroleum scientist V.N. Shchelkachev, mathematicians D.F. Yegorov and N.N. Luzin, and geologist and secret priest Gleb Kaleda.
I ended up in the Holy Land almost by accident. But of course nothing happens by accident in this world. In 1974, I wished to travel to Russia, but I was refused a visa. Our batiushka, Fr. Dimitry Khvostoff, was in the process of organizing a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and his daughter invited me to go, to be Fr. Dimitry’s helper. I agreed. I did not think that I would once again come to the Holy Land and stay for good, that the Holy Land was to be my home. Everything here was so sacred, so remote, so lofty! I fell in love with the Holy Land from the very first day.
It was all a very homey atmosphere. The head cowboy, for example, said, “We have with us today John and Mary. They are on their honeymoon trip. Let’s give them a warm welcome! Let’s be glad for them, that they are so beautiful and young, have had their wedding and are now travelling around our country. John and Mary, come on up!” This young couple comes forward and everyone shouts, “John and Mary, hello! All the best to you!” This was touching, what can I say…
It all began when some Chinese people calling themselves Christians expressed the desire to make my acquaintance after one of them read my book, Everyday Saints in English. To tell you the truth, these new acquaintances of mine couldn’t really say what confession they are in—they just read the Gospels, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, pray to Him, and firmly and stubbornly consider themselves Christians. Some of them are not baptized at all, others were baptized by Protestants, yet others by Catholics…