Article & Photography by Paul J. Hechtman
The Orthodox Church celebrated Kreshchenie Gospodne, which is one of the 12 main holidays celebrated by the church. The holiday begins with the blessing of the water.
Morning mass and blessing of the water on the 18th of January 2011 at the Pokrovsky Church
Service starts in the morning on the 18th and continues through19th of January to bless the water.On both of these days people will go to churches throughout Russia to receive holy water to take home. The holy water is sometimes called the Great Sacred Water. It purifies the soul and drives out evil forces. It blows out the flame of passions and helps heal physical problems. People will use this water to drink and to spray on all the items in their home to drive out evil forces.
Father Ioann is holding a brush, which he puts into holy water and then blesses the people and the water bottles that people have filled up at the church.
Saint Ioann Zlatoust stated in the 4th century that:
Holy water during many years after being blessed stays clear, clean and drinkable. Just like being brought from the spring. That is a real God’s miracle that everyone can see now.
Saints believe that the Holy water is a gift form God to the Church and that there was no stronger medicine then the Holy water and the Holy oil.
The miracle of recovery happens today, but this miracle happens in the lives of people who really believe in God and in prayer.
Night mass on the 18th of January at the Uspensko-Nikolavsky Cathedral (Click the first photo, slideshow)
Every year tens of thousands of Russians throughout Russia jump into lakes, rivers and ice holes, in honor of the baptism of Jesus Christ and to cleanse themselves of sins and to heal their body of illness. The event is also popular with nonbelievers as well.
In some places where the ice needs to be cut the ice-holes are cut in a cross-shaped, which is called
Iordan in russian, in memory of the river Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ.
During the 19th century the Shopino Village belonged to count Sheremetev.
His servants, serfs and family members had experienced curative effects from the water in this region.
The people believe that going into the cold water helps with blood circulation and improves the state of being vivacious and restoring their spirit.
Before the event takes place priest from the Russian Orthodox Church will travel to all of the locations of the springs, rivers and lakes to bless them.
People come from the city to fill up water bottles with Spring Water that has been blessed.
On this day water in all natural reservoirs are blessed and becomes curative and fresh for a long time.
The temperature in the Shopino Village, which is located in the Belgorod region, was minus 21 Celsius in the evening and minus 15 Celsius during the day on Wednesday the 19th of January. The water temperature remains stable and constant throughout the year with fluctuations of temperature between 6 to 8 C.
People started to come to the Shopino River during the day on the 18th and a large number of people came late in the evening when the holiday actually started.
Most people do stay in water more than 10 minutes and to get the most benefit a person should do this procedure for a total of three times.
There were approximately 265 employees of the Ministry of Emergency on duty throughout the event in Russia. There were no accidents throughout this event in the Belgorod region.
History about the Pokrovsky Church and the Upensko-Nikolavsky Cathedral
The Pokrovsky church was built in 1626 and was constructed out of wood. It is located in the center of the now modern Belgorod city on Pushkin’s street, 19.
The former name of Pushkin’s street was Batalonnoj.
In 1993 restoration of the Pokrovsk church began along with a complex of buildings to house the Marfo-Marlinsky female monastery. The restoration appears to be in its final stage as of November 2009, 384 years later, with its new coat of paint.
In January of 1994 the nuns started to serve regular services. Everyday a nun is setting in the corner of the Pokrovsky church reading aloud the holy bible. This is done 24 hours a day.
Since 1995 the nuns have been taking care of individuals that do not have family and have also looked after children with disabilities.
In a near by village in the Belgorod region the nuns have 21 hectares of land for farming and raising their 16 goats and one cow.
The Uspensko-Nikolavsky cathedral was built in 1701- 1703, with stonewalls and a wooden roof.Located on the south end of the property where the Pokrovsky church is located. It was the second brick cathedral to be built in Belgorod.
The style of architecture represents an original sample of provincial architecture, with an asymmetric construction plan with a tent shape bell tower.
This style of architecture is rare to the Belgorod region.
There are documents that Peter The Great offered one hundred rubles for the cathedral to be built. The soldiers of the Belgorod garrison, and a brigade of masters who were led by Ivan Prokofiev built the cathedral. It was these master builders that added the Moscow lines to the architecture of the temple.
In 1759 the wooden roof was destroyed by fire and restored shortly afterwards.
The cathedral had been closed during the Soviet period in the 1930’s-1991. The cathedral was turned into a prison for a short period of time. Then it was use for economic needs and turned into a mechanical workshop.
After the fascist aggressors where removed from Belgorod the cathedral became a bakery for more then a half a century.
In 1991 restoration work began and the end of 2006 had completed the restoration
In 1998 the cathedral became part of the Belgorod Oskolsky diocese and today it is now part of the Marfo-Mariinsky female monastery. Sunday school has been taking place in the cathedral since 1998.
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