9 bishops, 220 clergymen, thousands of faithful gather for feast at Ukrainian lavra (+VIDEOS)

Svyatogorsk, Ukraine, August 25, 2021

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The feast of St. John the Recluse and Wonderworker of Svyatogorsk (+1867) drew thousands of Orthodox faithful and hundreds of hierarchs and clergy to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Svyatogrosk Lavra on Monday and Tuesday, the monastery reports.

St. John is the first of the Svyatogorsk ascetics to have been canonized, which took place on August 24, 1995.

The services began on Monday afternoon with the 9th Hour and Small Compline, followed by the All-Night Vigil that evening, celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk, the abbot of Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Lavra, and eight other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Church:

The festivities began the next day with a moleben with the blessing of water at 7:00 AM on the square in front of the Dormition Cathedral. Met. Arseny addressed the faithful with an exhortation to humility, citing the example of St. John the Recluse, who remained in isolation in the local caves for the last 17 years of his life. A virtual tour of the monastery launched online last year gives viewers a glimpse of the cell in which St. John labored in asceticism.

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His Eminence also emphasized that the people had never forgotten St. John, and even before his glorification they would come by the thousands to venerate and pray to him.

Following the moleben, the Divine Liturgy was served in the cathedral by Met. Arseny and the visiting hierarchs. The service was also attended by 220 clerics and thousands of faithful from throughout Ukraine.

The homily was offered by His Grace Bishop Irinarch of Novopskov, who reflected upon St. John’s simple desire to save his soul, which gathers thousands of people near and far every year.

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“It’s hard for a modern person to imagine going into reclusions and living in a cave in incessant prayer to God. The example of St. John the Recluse is an example, first of all, of a struggle with oneself, an example of a struggle with the enemy of the human race through prayer, for the sake of life with God in eternity,” His Grace said.

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Following the Liturgy, a procession was made with the relics and icon of St. John to the monastery’s monument to the Theotokos, who is considered the abbess of Svyatogorsk. A moleben to St. John was served at the foot of the monument.

svlavra.church.ua svlavra.church.ua Met. Arseny then addressed the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful with a word about St. John, noting that he was instrumental in building up the monastery before his reclusion, which means that physical labor is not a hindrance to spiritual perfection. Such saints, and the people’s continuing veneration for them, “is the testimony of the true Church of Christ, where the Lord and the grace of God are present,” the metropolitan-abbot said.

Following the moleben, the procession returned to the cathedral as the bells joyfully rang out. All those present were then invited to a festive meal provided by the holy monastery.

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