Nurzec-Stacja, Poland, August 20, 2018
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada (Orthodox Church in America) had the blessing of concelebrating the Divine Liturgy for the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord with His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland at the holiest site in all of Poland yesterday.
10,000 faithful were gathered to celebrate the feast on the Holy Mount of Grabarka in the village of Nurzec-Stacja, near the border with Belarus, reports the site of the Polish Orthodox Church.
The Holy Mount of Grabarka is considered to be the holiest location in Poland for Orthodox Christians. It is the site of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and is home to the women's monastery of Sts. Marta and Mary. The most prominent and well-known feature of Grabarka is the forest of crosses surrounding the Church, all brought to the mount by pilgrims. It has been a place of pilgrimage since the 18th century.
Accompanying Met. Tikhon were His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, Archpriest Alexander Rentel from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk of the OCA representation Church of St. Catherine in Moscow, Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak, and Subdeacon Roman Ostash.
Prayers on Grabarka began on Friday with the All-Night Vigil in the Church of the Transfiguration, followed by an akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos. The Divine Liturgy was served the next morning at 6:00 AM—early enough for people to pray to God, commune of the Holy Mysteries, and still get to work.
More and more pilgrims were arriving every hour, with more than 1,000 attending the 10:00 AM Liturgy. The local faithful were joined by pilgrims from throughout Poland, and from abroad, including Belarus and Iceland. God blessed the pilgrims with favorable weather as they prayed and erected new crosses on the holy mount.
The OCA delegation, headed by Met. Tikhon arrived at 5:00 PM to celebrate the All-Night Vigil with the entire episcopacy of the Polish Orthodox Church. In all, 12 bishops, 50 priests, and several thousand faithful participated in the Transfiguration Vigil.
The service ended at 9:00 PM, but the faithful did not disperse. Prayers continued all night, and a panikhida was served in the monastery cemetery at 11:00 PM. The first Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Transfiguration was then served at 1:00 AM in the Church of the Transfiguration. Another Liturgy was served at 4:00 AM in the Church of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon of the Mother of God, and another was served outside at 6:30 AM.
The main Liturgy for the feast was celebrated at 10:00 AM by Met. Tikhon, Met. Sawa, Abp. Benjamin, and several other hierarchs of the Polish Church. About 10,000 faithful had gathered for the feast by this point. After the reading of the Holy Gospel, Met. Sawa addressed the faithful with a festive word, saying, “Gathered on the holy mountain of Grabarka, we ‘update’ this event of the Transfiguration of the Lord. With our thoughts, our prayers, and our spiritual experience, we are in the Holy Land, on Mt. Thabor… in this place so important for us, we cry out, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.’ So we repeat, ever year for centuries.”
The Polish primate then offered a word of greeting to Met. Tikhon, thanking him for the opportunity to serve together. The two primates exchanged gifts following the Liturgy, with Met. Sawa giving Met. Tikhon a cross and two episcopal Panagias, and Met. Tikhon giving Met. Sawa an icon of St. Herman of Alaska.
The holy day ended with the blessing of a cross erected in honor of the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence.
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