December 14, 2010

An 800 Kilometer Litany In Honor of St. Nicholas of Velikoretsky

The Velikoretsky crucession (Russian: Великорецкий крестный ход) is a procession which takes place every year in the Vyatka diocese of the Church of Russia from the city of Kirov to the Velikoretskoye settlement and back.

In 1383 on the bank of the Velikaya River a peasant named Semyon Agalakov discovered an icon of Saint Nicholas. When many people were cured from illnesses by praying before the sacred image, the glory of the wonderworking icon spread all over the Vyatka land and beyond its borders. Even before the time when the icon was first taken to Moscow - on the order of Ivan the Terrible in 1555 - the wonderworking image of St. Nicholas was well-known and honored in Russia.

Due to the glory of the wonderworking icon in the fifteenth century, the settlement of Velikoretskoye was founded. The architectural ensemble of the settlement is a unique sightseeing attraction of the Vyatka land.

The town-dwellers of Khlynov (old name of Kirov) - the capital city of the Vyatka country - took the sacred image of St. Nicholas to the town church having made a promise to bring the icon back to the banks of the Velikaya every year. Since those times, for more than 600 years, from June 3 to June 8, the crucession (the litany or procession) to Velikoretskoye has taken place in Vyatka of about 800 km (about 497 miles). Nowadays on the day of celebrating the anniversary of the icon, thousands of pilgrims not only from Russia but also from abroad gather in Velikoretskoye to pray to the wonderworking image at the holy place where the icon first appeared, to drink water from the holy spring, and to bathe in the waters of the Velikaya river.

See also:

Photos of the Crucession

Velikoretsky Crucession and Monastery (In Russian)

Nikolo-Velikoretsky Monastery