California couple gifts relics of St. Arsenios the Great to Ukraine’s Svyatogorsk Lavra

Svyatogorsk, Donetsk Province, Ukraine, September 18, 2023

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On Friday, September 15, a particle of the relics of St. Arsenios the Great, the 4th-5th century desert father, was donated to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Lavra (Donetsk Province) by a couple from California.

The relic comes from Ilya and Elena Poluektov, who live near San Francisco. Ilya is the son of Archpriest Alexei Poluektov, who served 37 years as the rector of the Kazan Church he built near the city. The portion of the holy remains of St. Arsenios was acquired in Italy in 2020 with a certificate confirming its authenticity.

Knowing the Svyatgorosk Lavra well from watching services and listening to homilies online, Ilya had planned to make a trip there for a long time, but the situation in Ukraine made the trip unrealistic. However, Elena Gruschina from nearby Kramatorsk, who now lives in the U.S., took on the mission of transporting the relics during a visit home, the Lavra reports.

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The solemn meeting of the relics took place at the monastery’s Holy Dormition Cathedral at 12:30 on Friday. The brethren of the monastery and the sisters of several of the related sketes as well as refugees living in the Lavra were gathered for the joyous event.

The relics were received by His Eminence Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk, the abbot of the monastery, who has St. Arsenios the Great as his patron saint. Placing the relics in the center of the church for veneration, he noted that a skete was founded in honor of the desert father at the Lavra in the 19th century, and he was also the patron of the first abbot after the monastery’s revival in 1844, Archimandrite Arseny (Mitrofanov), who is himself a glorified saint.

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Met. Arseny and the monastery clergy served a moleben for the blessing of water with an akathist to St. Arsenios and blessed everyone present with holy water. The faithful were also blessed with oil from the lampada over the relics of St. Arsenios the Great.

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