In the seventeenth century, an outstanding son of Orthodox Russia, Monk Irinarch the Recluse, labored in asceticism in the Monastery of Sts. Boris and Gleb near Rostov the Great. The saint played an enormous role in overcoming the Time of Troubles, blessing Prince Dmitry Pozharsky with his cross to fight the Poles.
After the saint’s death, the local people began the custom of walking in a Cross procession from his monastic cell to the spring near the village of Kondakovo, where the saint was born and where as a child he beheld an appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos. The procession passed through many villages and lasted for a whole week. However, shortly after the Bolshevik revolution the monastery was closed, the brethren dispersed, many valuables, including the chains of the Monk Irinarch, were taken out, and the procession itself was banned.
In 1994, the monastery was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, and its new abbot John (Titov) began to revive local pious customs, including the traditional St. Irinarch procession. After decades of neglect, the procession once again began to take place exactly twenty-five years ago, in 1997. Over the past twenty-five years, the procession’s route has changed, its duration has increased to five days, and the number of participants in some years reached as many as three and a half thousand. But the spiritual joy that accompanies the fervently praying pilgrims remained unchanged.
We present these scenes from this year’s procession.