The service of Patriarch Gregory IV of Antioch in the Edinoverie Orthodox Church on Nikolayevskaya Street, St. Petersburg, and its significance

101 years ago, on March 9, 1913, Antiochian Patriarch Gregory IV celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the St. Nicholas Edinoverie Church on Nikolayevskaya Street in St. Petersburg. This event was the subject of an article by priest Simeon Shleev in "Additions to the Church Vedomosti" No. 11 for 1913. In it, the future Edinoverie Saint described in detail the service of His Holiness Gregory according to the Old Russian rite in the Nikolskaya Church and his visit to the fraternal Edinoverie real school.

On the memory of the forty martyrs who suffered in Sevastia, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory IV of Antioch and All the East, celebrated the Divine Liturgy on March 9 of this year in the St. Nicholas Edinoverie Church in the city of St. Petersburg. The service was characterized by high solemnity. The unpretentiousness of the service was reflected in everything, starting with the very decoration of the church. The church was decorated with fir, garlands of greenery intertwined colonnade of temple porticoes. In the middle of the church stood the bishop's platform with a special elevation in the center for the patriarch. Before the local icons stood new candles, the floor of the church was covered with new carpets. Patriarch Gregory IV arrived for the liturgy at about 9 a.m., having been met by the local church starosta Prince A. Ukhtomsky and the trustee of the church. Ukhtomsky and the trustees, followed in carrying an eight-pointed cross to the church, where a host of clergy awaited him. According to the Orthodox Old Believer custom, His Beatitude prayed "the seven-bow beginning". In the service of the liturgy led by the Patriarch took part: Archbishop Anthony of Volyn and Bishop Veniamin of Gdov, as well as Archimandrite Anthony, the rector of the Moscow Antiochian Court, Archpriest Nicholas, the Exarch of Lebanon, who arrived with the Patriarch, representatives of the entire capital's Edinoverie clergy, the rector of the church, Fr. Simeon Shleev and others. Simeon Shleev and other clergy. Three choirs sang: a male choir in long black kaftans, a mixed choir of amateurs and a school choir consisting of students of the local real school.

The Patriarch prayed with two fingers, blessed with one hand with two fingers, and three times, according to the old Church custom, said "O Lord, O Lord, look down from heaven" (before the reading of the Apostle, during the Litany of Liturgy, and after the Cherubic hymn). During the Litany, after the prayer for the Tsar, the Patriarch, accompanied by the bishops, went out onto the solea. Having on his right hand the fingers folded two-fingered and holding the dikyrium in his left hand, the Most Blessed threefold exclaimed, "O Lord, save the King and hear us this day, if we call upon Thee"....

The words, "By the grace and bounty of Thy only begotten Son... Receive ye eat..." were pronounced by the Patriarch in Slavonic. At the end of the liturgy the Patriarch spoke a sermon according to the old custom, not from the pulpit, but in the middle of the church, sitting on the cathedra; in his word, spoken in Arabic and translated immediately into Russian, His Beatitude called everyone to unity in Christ our Lord.

Among those present in the church were Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod V.K. Sabler, Comrade Minister of Public Education V.T. Shevyakov, titular counselor A.N. Stolpakov, Count N.F. Heyden, State Counselor A.A. Papkov, honorary parishioners headed by the church head Prince-Professor A.A. Ukhtomsky. There were so many praying that they occupied all three floors of the church. The people stood in a dense wall around the temple, in the streets adjacent to the temple, and enthusiastically greeted the Patriarch when the Beatitude proceeded after the liturgy to the Edinoverie real school located near the church. In the real school the Patriarch addressed the students, who repeatedly sang to His Beatitude with a Demestvenny chant: "Is polla eti Despota". Here in the hall of the college the Patriarch was offered a strictly Lenten meal. The first greeting was offered by His Beatitude for the Heir Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, whose name the school bears (the Edinoverie real school was named after the Heir Tsesarevich in October, 1912). In conversation with those present, His Beatitude expressed that in the churches of Edinovertsy he found many things reminiscent of the old church of the IV century. At the end of the meal, the Patriarch visited the apartment of the rector of the church, Father Simeon Shleev.

The significance of the described patriarchal service is great. This divine service is significant because during its performance the Patriarch of Antioch performed the old rites and old customs, thus showing that the difference of these and others does not harm the cause of salvation. It is true that the Patriarch Macarius of Antioch in 1667 forbade the use of the old rites, finding them unorthodox because of the discordant direction of some of their holders. The Council of 1667, having Macarius of Antioch at its head, faithfully, with an oath forbade the keeping of the old customs in view of the church discord, but the time came when the successor of the said Patriarch, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory IV, himself prayed and blessed with the two-fingers! His Beatitude did by his ministry to the Edinovertsy what whole volumes of writings cannot do. By his ministry he recognized the equivalence of the old and the new rite. By his ministry the Patriarch showed that the oaths of the Moscow councils do not apply to Edinovertsy. By his ministry, His Beatitude Gregory IV testified to the salvation of Edinoverie and the futility of divisive people to humiliate it.

Priest Simeon Shleev

Sat, 03/09/2024 - 06:07
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