The cross procession to "fathers' graves". At the parish feast of an Orthodox Old Believer church in the Moscow region

Sun, 06/16/2024 - 14:55

The community of the Old Believer Orthodox church in the village of Mistsevo consists of the descendants of those Old Believers who entered into unity with the Russian Orthodox Church on the terms of Edinoverie, i.e. guarantees of services in such churches according to the old rite. There are five such churches in the Moscow region, three of which have been under the care of Sretensky Seminary graduate Fr. Alexei Guglivaty. Lord's Ascension is the parish feast of one of the churches cared for by Fr. Alexei, in the village of Mistsevo. Mistsevo is a quiet reserved place in the Guslitsa region, a village with a rich history. The first mention of this settlement can be found in the scribe books of the end of the 16th century. From the 2nd half of the 17th century in the forests near the village there appeared many monastic hermitages, where Old Believer monks asceticized. The monastery cemetery of the Old Believer hermitages, located in the Mistsevo forest, has survived to our time. People call this place "fathers' graves". The local inhabitants carried the pledge - each yard, each family according to a certain village schedule during the year was obliged to supply the monks with provisions, things - everything that was necessary for the ascetics.

The village's feast day was always widely celebrated, beginning with a solemn service in the church and continuing with the pilgrimage to "fathers' graves". During the rest of the day, folk festivities were organized, people went to visit and organized parties. By the beginning of the 20th century in the village of Mistsevo there were two churches of "neokruzhniki" (a Belokrinitsky schism, they took a more rigid position in relation to the official Church) and one church of "okruzhniki" (i.e. today's Belokrinitsky - ed) , there was also a Pomorian prayer room. The locals were skillful copyists of liturgical books. During the years of godless hardship Old Believer churches in Mistsevo were closed, looted and later demolished. At the Butovo landfill alone eight charterers and scribes from Mistsevo were shot and buried. The burial of monks was also subjected to devastation - in search of treasures their graves were opened, and the tombstones that remained on them until the 80s of the last century were used in the construction of houses (one after another blasphemers died in strange and completely stupid circumstances).

 In the 1990s, church life in the village began to revive. The revival was associated with the name of Fr. Dimitriy Kuznetsov. Fr. Dimitriy, often visiting Mistsevo, performed divine services in the homes of his spiritual children. In the late 90's - early 00's the abandoned building was rebuilt, the dome with a cross was installed, many local residents brought their old icons to the new church. Through the efforts of the community "father's graves" were put in order, the gates were restored, the graveyard itself was cleared of debris. The traditional procession to these graves was revived. The parishioners of the church found and cleared the exact places of Old Believer hermitages and installed commemorative icons and crosses there.

June 15 is the local celebration of the icon of the Mother of God "The Unburnt Bush", popularly called "Obrushnaya". On this day the villagers pray to the Virgin for deliverance from fires. Many years ago on this day in Mistsevo there was a terrible fire, which was stopped after the service in honor of the icon of the Virgin Mary "The Unburnt Bush". The last bishop who belonged to the neokruzhniki, Bishop Philaret, was buried on the " father's graves". Near the cemetery there is a memorial plaque with the names of all Old Believer monks and nuns.

This year, for the first time, I was fortunate enough to participate in the procession with the singing of the prayer service to the Feast of the Ascension to the "father's graves". When we came to them, we made a water blessing prayer service with Fr. Alexei. Fr. Alexei sprinkled holy water on the monks' graves. In total we walked about six kilometers. The celebrations ended with a festive meal with three hours of conversation.

Hegumen Kirill (Sakharov), rector of the Church of St. Nikola on Bersenevka, member of the Russian Writers' Union

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