Friday, July 10, 2020

The Placing of the Honorable Robe of the Lord at Moscow (1625)


According to the Gospel of John, the soldiers who crucified Jesus did not divide his tunic after crucifying him, but cast lots to determine who would keep it because it was woven in one piece, without seam. A distinction is made in the New Testament Greek between the Savior's robe ta himatia (literally “over-garments”) and the seamless tunic, which is the chiton, (literally "under-garb tunic").

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments (ta himatia) and divided them into four parts, to every soldier a part, and the tunic (kai ton chitona). Now the tunic was without seam, woven whole from the top down. Therefore, they said among themselves, let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it will become. Thus the saying in Scripture was fulfilled: They divided My garments (ta imatia) among them, and for My clothing (epi ton himatismon) did they cast lots. ( John 19:23–24; quoting the Septuagint version of Psalm 21 [22]:18–19)

According to the tradition of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Chiton of the Lord was carried by the Hebrew rabbi Elioz from Jerusalem to Mtsket and at present is beneath a crypt in the foundations of the Mtsket Patriarchal Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli (the feast in honor of the Chiton of the Lord is celebrated on October 1). None of the Mohammedan invaders ever ventured to encroach upon this spot, glorified with a sign by the mercy of God, the Life-Creating Pillar.

The Robe of the Lord, actually one of its four parts, the lower portion specifically (other parts of the Robe of the Lord are also known in Western Europe: in the city of Trier in Germany, and in Argenteuil near Paris in France), just like the Chiton of the Lord, came to be in Georgia. In contrast to the Chiton, the Robe portion was not kept underground, but was in the treasury of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral right up to the seventeenth century. Then the Persian Shah Abbas I, in devastating Georgia, along with other treasures also carried off the Robe of the Lord. In order to ingratiate himself with Tsar Michael Feodorovich, the Shah sent the Robe of the Lord as a gift to Patriarch Philaret (1619-1633) and Tsar Michael in 1625. The authenticity of the Robe was attested by Nectarius, Archbishop of Vologda, also by Patriarch Theophanes of Jerusalem, who had come from Byzantium, and by Joannicius the Greek, but especially also by the miraculous signs worked by the Lord through the venerable relic.

Afterwards two parts of the Robe came to be in Petersburg: one in the cathedral at the Winter Palace, and the other in Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. A portion of the Robe was also preserved at the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow, and small portions at Kiev’s Sophia Cathedral, at the Ipatiev Monastery near Kostroma and at certain other old temples. At Moscow annually on July 10 the Robe of the Lord is solemnly brought out of a chapel named for the holy Apostles Peter and Paul at the Dormition Cathedral, and it is placed on a stand for veneration during the time of divine services. After Liturgy they carry the Robe to its former place.

On this day a service to the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord is proper, since the Placing of the Robe in the Dormition Cathedral in 1625 took place on March 29, which happened to be the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross during the Great Fast.











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