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Religious education: Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage today
A pilgrimage - what is it?
The Russia's Monasteries pilgrimage service
The experience of the Russian Traveler pilgrimage service
Virtual pilgrimage
Orthodox pilgrimage services

Pilgrimage today

Originally, pilgrims were those who made a journey to the Holy Land to venerate Christian shrines there. Because they usually brought back palm branches, they were called palomniki in Russia. With time a pilgrimage came to be understood as a journey to other holy places as well. In Russia, the tradition of pilgrimage goes down to the 11th century. Traditional itineraries for Russian pilgrims were the Holy Land, Mount Athos and national shrines.

Pilgrimages, just as all the external forms of religious activity, were almost fully interrupted in the Soviet period. The tradition of pilgrimage has begun to revive since the early 90s. Many Orthodox believers have already made trips to the newly-opened monasteries and churches. Orthodox pilgrimage services have appeared. During the last decade, this process has developed to take more organized and diverse forms.

What is Orthodox pilgrimage today and what significance does it have for every believer and for the Church as a whole? Lying in the heart of pilgrimage is certainly spiritual effort and experience in prayer acquired when a pilgrim visits shrines. The significance of pilgrimage, however, is not reduced to it.

One of the most important aspects of pilgrimage is its contribution to spiritual education. Visiting holy places, people learn the history and spiritual traditions of monasteries and churches and peculiarities of their worship. They also learn about the saints and zealots of devotion whose life and work were connected with the shrines included in their pilgrimage itineraries. Pilgrims have an opportunity to talk to monks and some of them have found among them spiritual directors for themselves.

Pilgrimage also plays an important role in general education of pilgrims. Monasteries and churches in Russia have always been not only places for spiritual growth, but also cultural centers. For centuries they have accumulated books, icons, and works of applied and folk art. Monastery and church buildings were major architectural monuments of their time, especially in the 18th century. It is interesting that many monasteries, even in the Soviet period when they were no longer used for their original purpose, preserved their role of cultural centers as museums. A pilgrimage, therefore, provides an excellent opportunity for pilgrims to get acquainted with the Russian history, architecture, iconography and handicrafts.

Taking into account the spiritual and educational function of pilgrimage, many pilgrimage services have developed special programs to introduce pilgrims to the history, architecture and the cultural significance of the most interesting places encountered on their itinerary. Unlike secular excursions, these pilgrimages highlight the history and architecture of a particular place as related to the significance this place has had for the Russian spiritual culture.

Some pilgrimage services have organized trips for non-church or insufficiently inchurched people who wish to know better the culture and history of their country. These trips are arranged more as excursions, with pilgrims accommodated in hotels rather than monasteries. These trips have often played the missionary role helping to inchurch its participants.

Charity is another important component of pilgrimage programs. Almost all the pilgrimage services try to find out the needs of monasteries before bringing pilgrims to it. They give this information to the pilgrims. The service itself is often engaged in fund-raising. Coming to a monastery, pilgrims bring over essentials and foodstuffs and make monetary donations. For many reviving monasteries, this support is essential, especially when it is given on a regular basis. Besides, part of the pilgrimage returns has been used to restore churches under which some pilgrimage services work.

In this issue of our Newsletter you can find more details about pilgrimage today.

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A pilgrimage - what is it?

Pilgrimage to holy places was an important aspect of the life of a Russian Christian. As Academician A.. Pypin wrote in his History of the Russian Literature as far back as the 19th century, "With us travellers to holy places have long been called palomniki, a name certainly associated with their Western name palmarii, palmati, palnigeri, as those who returned from Jerusalem with palm branches were described". According to V. Dal, "to make pilgrimage is to go to Jerusalem for veneration".

In Russia, however, only few people could afford to go to the distant Holy Land. Therefore, on the Russian soil, the term pilgrim began to mean a person who goes to venerate any shrine. This could be a church in a neighboring village where there was an icon famous for its miracle-working power or a distant monastery, the center of the spiritual life in the region. Sometimes a few neighboring villages or parishes in a city would send their representative to the Kiev Monastery of the Caves or the Solovki Monastery a thousand miles away. Pilgrimages helped to broaden the Russian's horizon, to introduce him to the treasures of spiritual culture and to the rich history of the Russian State and to promote the spiritual unity and enhance the moral potential of the people.

The attempts made in the Soviet period to unite the peoples of the former Russian Empire on the basis of the false and immoral communist idea resulted in the disintegration of the state. Today, after almost ten years of "reform", which resulted in the breakdown of Russian economy and crises in all aspects of the life of society, people have come to understand, though not all and not immediately, that the regeneration of Russia lies first of all in the restoration of her spiritual and moral foundations. The need has arisen for us to "restore the link of times" and in this process to see and realize the great and glorious traditions we have inherited. That is why pilgrimages are so important today.

Today thousands and thousands of people go to all parts of Russia, sometimes very far, not only to venerate the zealots of Christian devotion who were once active there and to pray in a holy place where a miracle-working icon appeared or a healing spring runs. People go there in the hope to understand where the origins of our today's tragedy lie, why the people in possession of such spiritual richness have neglected it, how to live further, how to change life in order to find peace in one's soul and in the country? And these trips help not only to find answers to these painful questions, but in a broader sense to strengthen the national self-awareness and to revive the people's spiritually.

The Soglasie (Harmony) pilgrimage service seeks to make its own contribution to the common cause of promoting such trips. How are they organized? What are the methodological approaches to their arrangement? We will set forth our considerations, using as an example a concrete pilgrimage to the city of Rostov Veliky.

Rostov is one of the oldest centers of the Russian statehood, a treasury of Russia's spiritual and material culture. A returned trip from Moscow to Rostov can be managed within a day. The road goes through Pereyaslavl-Zalesski, a city which played a key role in the development of Moscovy, and passes by St. Sergius Monastery of the Trinity, a spiritual center of the Orthodox world. That is why this route is so important for pilgrims.

The time on the bus should be used to prepare pilgrims for encountering the shrine. Therefore, in the very beginning of the trip a reference should be made to the destination point, Rostov. It is also necessary to relate briefly the history of the places lying on the way to it.

Already in the 15th century, this road became a place of mass pilgrimage. People went along it to venerate the "Hegumen of the Russian Land", St. Sergius of Radonezh. Among thousands of pilgrims were also Russian czars. They stopped at traveler's palaces. The churches erected at these palaces and the names of the places in which they were located, for instance St. Alexis village, the village of the Lord's Supper, the village of the Elevation of the Cross, remind us that we are successors of the old devotional tradition.

The guide's reference to Rostov-born St. Sergius of Radonezh, as we pass by Radonezh visible from the road and St. Sergius Monastery invisible but stirringly close, should be put in a broader historical context.

The 14th century was the time of the rise of Moscow around which Russian lands began to gather - the process in which monasteries played a special role. The task of the guide on this part of the journey is to give a brief, but vivid and convincing explanation, not lecture (a grave mistake made by many guides) of the role St. Sergius played in uniting Russian lands around Moscow and the significance he has had for the Russian spiritual culture.

On entering the Yaroslavl region, the guide should prepare the pilgrims for an encounter with Pereyaslavl-Zalessky lying on their way, without forgetting, however, of the ultimate goal, Rostov Veliky. There are more than enough ways of doing it, because Pereyaslavl is tied to Rostov by thousands of "spiritual threads".

The Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in Pereyaslavl, built by Prince Yuri-the-Long-Arm of Rostov and Suzdal, is the oldest surviving church in north-east Russia. Among those who worshipped in this church were St. Andrew Bogoliubsky and St. Dmitry Donskoy. This church saw the marriage of St. Alexander Nevsky, who in his wise policy always relied on the princes of Rostov. This church also saw the consecration of St. Sergius of Radonezh, whose associate, St. Dmitry of Prilutsk, was founder of St. Nicholas's monastery in Pereyaslavl.

St. Sergius certainly was well acquainted with Bishop Jacob of Rostov, founder of the monastery which was named after him and by the 19th century gained fame as "the laura of the Rostov diocese".

The rest of the journey is dedicated to the history of Rostov and its spiritual center, Stt. Dmitry and Jacob's Monastery of Our Saviour. It is this great and glorious monastery that we go to immediately upon entering the city. It would be relevant at this point to tell the pilgrims about the role of monasteries in the development of both the state and the national culture.

There is no sphere of activity in which the monastery did not make a direct and strong impact. In the early middle ages, written language and literature, not only theological and liturgical, but also official, historical and poetic, as well as education, the monumental arts of architecture, painting, sculpture and the minor arts of book publishing, ornamental and decorative design and higher crafts - all this was concentrated almost exclusively in monasteries.

The knowledge gained by previous civilizations, just as the first shoots of modern sciences, both natural and exact, was preserved behind the thick monastery walls. The most sophisticated technologies, especially agricultural, the rational management systems, the rudiments of financial, banking and commercial operations, the germs of manufactures - all this developed in monasteries, attaining sometimes a high degree of perfection.

If in the Kievan State the monastery was one of many important elements of social and public structure, its place in Moscovy was quite exceptional. Monasteries there became the nurseries cultivating the spiritual culture which was to become the basis, the pillar, of the future great power.

At the same time, every monastery under construction was also conceived as a "projection" of the Heavenly Jerusalem on earth. Its inhabitants assumed the "angelic image". The monastery was a model of the perfect world order, perfect community. With time it turned into a center of spiritual and moral care for those who lived nearby and sometimes even for all Russia's flock.

The monastery is a place where the breathing of eternity can be felt, where our temporal and vain concerns are put in the background. Here, supported by the intercession of great Russian saints, we can ask the Lord to give us His help in our spiritual recovery and in our good deeds for the benefit of our neighbors.

Having venerated St. Jacob, whose relics are under a bushel, and St. Avraamy and St. Dimitry of Rostov, whose relics rest exposed, we now go to see the monastery itself and its life today. Then, having drunk from St. Jacob's holy spring in the center of the monastery, we go to the Rostov Kremlin. Here the pilgrims have an opportunity to see various museum expositions.

St. Avraamy's monastery of the Epiphany on Nero lake near Rostov played an important role in the history of Russian spiritual and material culture. Visiting it is a must on any pilgrimage to Rostov. >From here we go back home. Keeping in mind that a pilgrimage is always a spiritual effort, we try to make use of the time on our way back. We answer questions, give information about planned trips, read akathistoses, play church music and do many other things.

Talks with pilgrims have made us convinced of one thing at least: for every one a pilgrimage is an important and beneficial event in life. Many said that this trip became for them a certain borderline. Having crossed it, they came to a better understanding of themselves and their loved ones and Christian sacraments became an integral part of their life. They experienced the beneficial feeling of being part of the history of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian State, links in a great chain uniting the past and the future of the Russian people. In this lies the great significance of pilgrimage.

Yu. V. Krestnikov

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The Russia's Monasteries pilgrimage service

The Russia's Monasteries pilgrimage service functions at the church of the Life-giving Trinity near the Pokrov Gates in down town Moscow. On Saturdays, Sundays and movable and patronal feast-days, we make pilgrimages to old monasteries and cities to get acquainted with their history and shrines and to visit the churches in which prayer has never been interrupted and the churches which only begin to revive.

We have worked out over 200 itineraries including Orthodox shrines in Moscow. In Moscow alone, our pilgrims make over 60 pilgrimages to churches and monasteries a year.

We have established contacts with various enterprises and institutions and organized for them trips to holy places and special itineraries to visit shrines and museums in St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Pskov, Valamo and other places.

Secondary schools have asked us to arrange trips to such historical places in Russia, as Borodino, Zvenigorod, St. Sergius' Laura of the Trinity, etc. Our guides in their talks about the history of our country introduce schoolchildren to the life of saints and the history of icons and monasteries, pointing to the indissoluble link between the history of Russia and that of the Russian Orthodox Church. During trips, we try to create a warm atmosphere for the children, to feed them at the monastery and to give them tea.

Our service has also helped monasteries and parishes in other cities to arrange pilgrimages on their own and to host pilgrim groups from other dioceses.

To help pilgrims choose an itinerary and to prepare them for the trip, we publish a special "Pilgrim's Library" with rare materials on such Orthodox shrines in Russia as little known or new monasteries, churches, miracle-working icons and holy springs. The materials are published in two versions, one with hymns and prayers for parishioners and frequent pilgrims and the other without hymns and prayers for unchurched people.

In planning and conducting pilgrimages, we try to take into account the demands of our pilgrims and work out pilgrimage plans in accordance with the composition of a group and the degree of the pilgrims' churchliness.

Our pilgrimages for church people begin with a prayer according to the rule our service has worked out for pilgrims. For each pilgrimage we prepare a special information sheet with the hymns and prayers on the feasts and saints to which the pilgrimage is devoted. This common prayer helps to create the necessary atmosphere without which a pilgrimage becomes an ordinary trip. The prayers are followed by the guide's talk on the theme of the pilgrimage. The subject may be a saint or a feast or the history of the finding of a shrine or the history of the formation of a monastery. Upon arrival at a holy place, our pilgrims attend a worship service and those who wish can make confession and communicate. After the service, a monastic or a church worker takes pilgrims on a tour during which they talk to clergy and visit holy springs. On the way back, they read an akathistos to the saint at whose shrine they prayed or an akathistos to the miracle-working icons the celebration of which they attended.

During long pilgrimages, meals are provided for our pilgrims in monasteries and churches or, if there are not any, in local hotels.

On a trip with unchurched pilgrims, our guide reads a brief prayer rule for travelers, explains the prayers, tells them about saints and monasteries and churches, gives them the necessary regional information on the places they are to visit, tells them in popular form about the life of ascetics and the history of the Orthodox Church and answers their various questions. These groups are accommodated in city hotels and meals are provided in cafes.

One of the primary aims of our pilgrimages is to help to monasteries and churches as much as we can. Our guides try to explain pilgrims how important and salvific it is not only to visit holy places but also help them to revive. Before setting off for a pilgrimage, we tell our pilgrims about the needs of the monasteries and churches they are to visit. We collect foodstuffs, clothes, books and all things which can be donated to monasteries, orphanages and asylums for the poor. We also make appeals to Orthodox readers through Pravoslavnaya Moskva (Orthodox Moscow) for aid to these institutions.

We see the meaning of our work in that we accustom our parishioners and believers to making pilgrimages to holy places in Orthodox Russia and help to restore our Church of the Trinity and offer its shrines for veneration to the Orthodox in Moscow and pilgrims from other cities.

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The experience of the Russian Traveler pilgrimage service

The Russian Traveler pilgrimage service was born in autumn 1996 together with the Orthodox Parish of the Holy Martyr Princess Elizabeth at the Opalikha village near Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region. In the beginning the aim of the pilgrimage service was to meet the needs of the community members for visiting holy places and to venerate Orthodox shrines there. The first pilgrimage was made to memorable places in Moscow, associated with the earthly life of St. Elizabeth.

Gradually the pilgrimages grew in number, and our services began to be used by believers in the Krasnogorsk deanery and Moscow. Nowadays the Russian Traveler arranges some 25 pilgrimages a year. It also organizes on a regular basis one or two-day-long trips for Sunday school children and children's choirs, as well as joint trips out to major festive divine services.

The Russian Traveler is not a commercial structure, nor is it profit-oriented. The whole work of this pilgrimage service is carried out under the spiritual patronage of the Krasnogorsk dean, Archpriest Constantine Ostrovsky.

During its work it has accumulated a certain experience in arranging pilgrimages and worked out internal principles of work, which we would like to share.

Firstly, we proceed from the fact that our trips are essentially pilgrimages, that is, the primary attention is given to prayer. Almost all the pilgrimages are arranged in such a way as to give pilgrims an opportunity to participate in the Liturgy, thanksgivings, akathistos readings and to visit Orthodox shrines and pray at them. That is why our pilgrimages usually begin on Friday evening, the night spent on the bus, and on Saturday morning our group arrives at a monastery or a church for the beginning of the Liturgy. After the Liturgy, pilgrims familiarize themselves with the monastery. Usually we ask the father superior to send one of the brethren to talk to the pilgrims after the service, to tell them the history of the monastery and to show them its shrines.

If the trip lasts one day, then the group comes back to Moscow late on Saturday night. An additional advantage of this pattern is that on Sunday believers can come to their church for the service, and after the service can have a rest before another working week begins. This arrangement makes it possible for pilgrims to go to holy place as far away from Moscow as 300-400 kilometers. Visits to holy places further than 400 km away from Moscow take 2 or 3 days. In this case the group comes back to Moscow on Sunday evening or Monday morning.

It is very important that the itinerary should be prepared properly. After the decision is made to arrange a pilgrimage to a new place often suggested by pilgrims themselves the preparatory stage begins. More specific information about the address and approaches is obtained. The staff member responsible for the pilgrimage goes over there on his personal car to check the itinerary, the road condition, the public conveniences along the way and to estimate the time to be spent on the road. Upon our arrival at the place, which is usually a monastery, we introduce ourselves as a pilgrimage service, ask the permission to bring pilgrims and ascertain whether it is possible to arrange accommodation and meals. We try to meet those who will be responsible for hosting pilgrims and find out whether it is possible to keep in touch with them by phone. It is also necessary to find out what shrines will be open, the services schedule, and the customary amount of donations given for commemorative notes and requested services.

During the pilgrimage, common prayers for travelers are said on the bus and the morning and evenings prayers and akathistoses are read. When a bus is rented, the good behaviour of the driver is stipulated. He should not smoke or play loud secular music on the bus. Swearing is absolutely unacceptable.

Another important thing to do in arranging and conducting a pilgrimage is to take care of the pilgrims. Those who assume responsibility for pilgrimages should love their pilgrims. Our internal motto is "While traveling jointly, we alone are to carry the burden of travel chores". We attach a great importance to arranging conditions of life on the road, especially hot meals. When preparing a pilgrimage, we arrange with monasteries for common meals. On the bus and during stops, pilgrims are provided with hot tea and a hot meal of two or three courses. As many pilgrims observe fast before communion, fast food is taken for the road. It is very important to begin and finish common meals with common prayer as it helps pilgrims who have not met before to draw together and form an Orthodox community of their own. Often pilgrims continue to be friends after the pilgrimage. Today 75% of the people on a new group are those who have already made pilgrimages with us.

To make a pilgrimage a success it is important that its leader should be prepared properly. As was already said, he should treat the pilgrims with love and tact and surround them with care and attention. At the same time, the leader of the group should be firm in establishing discipline and capable of finding ways out of possible conflict situations. The leader should clearly understand that his aim on a pilgrimage is not his personal prayer and participation in worship services, but care for the group. He should be "a step ahead the group". For instance, if the blessing is given to feed the pilgrims in a monastery's refectory after the liturgy and then to take them on a tour of the monastery with a member of the monastic community, he should, before the liturgy is over, check on the refectory and meet the monk in charge in order to ascertain again the number of pilgrims and their places at the table. After the service, the leader should take the group for the meal in an organized manner. By the end of the meal he should personally check on who exactly will take the pilgrims on a tour and where and when he will meet the group. And so for the rest of the pilgrimage. The efficiency of the leader makes it possible to fulfil the "tough" program of the pilgrimage without infringing upon the needs of pilgrims for prayer at Orthodox shrines.

Visiting the acting monasteries and parish churches under restoration, we try together with pilgrims to give them all possible material aid. During the booking we tell people who are to go on a pilgrimage about the needs of the monasteries they are to visit. As a result, many pilgrims bring over foodstuffs, clothes, domestic utensils, etc. Going on their second pilgrimage with us, they often bring over donations from their parishes. Pilgrims often share their picnics with those who beg at churches.

An important aspect of a pilgrimage is its missionary impact. In our practice it happens that believers bring along their unchurched relatives or friends. Visits to holy places and veneration of Orthodox shrines help those who did not believe in God before to find their road to church. Some believers, especially those who live in Moscow and cannon find a spiritual father for themselves in the bustle of a large city, often find them in the monasteries in which they made confession and communicated during a pilgrimage. Many people have told us that after a joint pilgrimage to a holy place they went to visit it on their own.

Our plans for the future include, in particular, the development of new itineraries. Our land is rich in shrines. We do not know or have forgotten many of them. If you know of such places, tell us. It may give us an impetus to organize a new pilgrimage itinerary, and the shrines so dear to you will become known to other believers.

Ye. N. Baranov
Russian Traveler service

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Virtual pilgrimage

Certainly nothing can substitute for a real visit to a holy place, but sometimes it is impossible to make such a pilgrimage, especially to a place far away from one's home. Intensive pace of life, strong work and family obligations and perpetual busy condition do not allow many to make long pilgrimages. Financial problem is another obstacle for making pilgrimages, which are expensive nowadays, while salaries are low. However, even the well-off or those who have sufficient time cannot visit all the places where famous Orthodox shrines are found.

But to know more about these places is perhaps the wish of every Orthodox believer. There is the so-called virtual pilgrimage which can help to do it. The term "virtual" in this case means "not real but close to a real result". This term has become popular in recent years with the development of computer technologies in which it is used to simulate real objects and processes.

Though the term "virtual" has begun to be used with regard to pilgrimages only recently, the very method of discovering shrines through their description has a long history. As far back as the 12th century Hegumen Daniel wrote his famous book on pilgrimage from his experience of pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In it he described everything he saw from Constantinople to Jerusalem. This book entitled Palomnik (pilgrim) was very popular among pious Russian people for several centuries. This book and a lot of later descriptions of pilgrimages helped the Orthodox to learn about holy places, to visit them mentally and to come in touch with them spiritually.

The tradition of "book" pilgrimage continued to develop. In 1885, the Russki palomnik (Russian pilgrim) magazine was established. In the late 19th and the early 20th centuries it was read throughout Russia. Remarkably, along with descriptions and pictures this magazine published a wide range of materials on spirituality. This shows that the word "pilgrimage" was understood in a broader sense, as a way of religious education and spiritual growth.

It is interesting that the publishing of this magazine, interrupted with the Bolshevik take-over, was resumed in the early 90s by the Valamo Society in America. As it was before the primary purpose of the magazine is to give knowledge about Russian monasteries and other shrines to people who have no opportunity for visiting them. "Few of us have been given by the Lord the opportunity to make pilgrimages to Holy Russia… Through Palonmik one can make pilgrimages without leaving home and lift up prayers in one's home cell for the reviving monasteries", one of the magazine's issues said. The same idea is expressed in the letter of one of its readers:

"Unfortunately, I have no opportunity to visit Holy Places and will hardly ever have it. But I have my own way to make pilgrimages. For many years I have collected press-clippings with pictures and descriptions of Holy Places and icons. With their help I "have been" to Palestine and Mount Athos, to Egypt and Sinai, to the Kiev Lavra of the Caves and the Optina Hermitage and many other places. Recently, with the help of Russki palomnik, I have been to the place in California where Father Seraphim Rose with his associates founded a monastery. I thank the magazine for it".

A similar opportunity for pilgrimage is given by television and video-films. In the church shops it is possible nowadays to find many video-cassettes with films about Orthodox shrines. The recent years have also seen the appearance of CD-ROMs which make it possible to visit, among other places, Orthodox monasteries. Loading such a disk to your computer, you can not only read a history of a monastery and see its picture but also make a tour of the monastery with a guide, enter its churches and attend a divine service - all this of course in the virtual space.

New opportunities for virtual pilgrimage have opened with the appearance of the Internet. Properly speaking, it is with reference to the Internet that the term "virtual pilgrimage" began to be used. Here you really can make a virtual trip when searching the site you need among many others, entering it, moving through its pages and then going to the next one.

Where then may the itineraries of such trips run? As in the history of real pilgrimages, one should start perhaps with a visit to the Holy Land. To do it, one can go to the site http://kcm.co.kr/HolyLand/index_e.html. Its texts are given only in English, but its main contents are pictures of the biblical places. Choosing the place you are interested in on the main page, you get to the section with its pictures and a brief description. Every picture can be zoomed in.

Along with the Holy Land, Russian Orthodox people used to go on pilgrimage to Mount Athos. There is a beautiful site devoted to it. Upon entering it, you find a map of Athos peninsula with the signs of monasteries. Choosing the monastery you need from the list of hyperlinks, we can load in a lot of its pictures. There are also articles on the history and geography of Athos and monastic life and many other interesting materials. In the Internet there is also a Russian site devoted to Athos. For the time present it offers information about only three monasteries, but then the texts are detailed enough.

The next virtual itinerary can go through Russian monasteries. One can make an exciting pilgrimage to Valamo. Entering the site of the Valamo monastery, you are offered to load in a map of Valamo island. Very convenient, the map is equipped with a decoder of all the conditional signs, a layout of the routes and an indicator of distances from the center of the monastery to its every hermitage. The monasteries and hermitages are marked with hyperlinks leading to their stories with pictures which can be zoomed in. The site also gives the chronicle of the Valamo monastery and pictures its most venerated icons.

On your virtual trip to the Konovets island, which is close to Valamo, you will be helped by several excellent maps in various scales. With their help you can determine the location of the Konovets village, find the monastery itself with its hermitages and chapels and see the three-dimensional layout of the monastery in a bird's-eye view. The site also has pictures of the monastery buildings and gives information about the charitable work of the monastery. Those who wish to make a real pilgrimage can find useful information in a special section for pilgrims.

The main page of the site of St. Daniel's monastery in Moscow welcomes you with an old print of the monastery and a list of its main sections. Moving through them, you can see modern pictures of the monastery, read its history, find out the schedule of the divine services and see the displays of its museum of church history.

The site of the Ipatyevsky Monastery of the Holy Trinity contains the chronicle of this famous "Imperial monastery" and the story of its revival in our time. There are illustrations of the monastery's shrines and significant events in its history.

If you wish to continue your virtual pilgrimage, you can find the web addresses of other monasteries, for instance, here.

We wish you happy virtual journey! We hope that the virtual pilgrimage will not only help you to learn more about church shrines, but also become an additional incentive for you to visit at least some of them in a real pilgrimage.

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Orthodox pilgrimage services

Organization Contact Types of pilgrimages
Radonezh Society pilgrim service (+7 095) 246-45-17, 423-54-33 Moscow shrines, one-day trips, two-day journeys, long journeys, trips abroad
Orthodox pilgrimage section, Department for External Church Relations, Moscow Patriarchate Tel.: (+7 095) 952-2684. Fax: 230-2619. Telefax: 954-0660. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Orthodox shrines in Italy (Rome, Venice, Frorence, Bari)
Russian Monasteries pilgrimage service (+7 095) 335-35-80 (8.00 - 22.00) Pilgrimages in Moscow (churches, monasteries, miracle-working icons), shrines in central Russia
and St. Petersburg.
On the Way to Church religious Orthodox association (+7 095) 203-0412 (Wednesday, 17.00 - 19.00), 134-4866 Shrines in central Russia
and St. Petersburg
Harmony pilgrimage service, Thomas magazine (+7 095) 935-34-69, 712-07-66, 486-97-93 One, two and tree-day trips
to shrines in central Russia
and St. Petersburg, monasteries in Mordovia, Chernigov-Kiev,Pochayev Lavra; Solovki and Valamo in summer
The Church of the Presentation of Our Lady at Barashi (+7 095) 164-79-69 (10.00 - 19.00) One-day trips to monasteries in Moscow region, Diveyevo, Pskov monastery of the Caves, St. Petersburg, Valamo
Blagovest Orthodox pilgrimage service (+7 095) 339-27-06 Shrines in central Russia
Russian Traveler pilgrimage service 564-98-32 Shrines in central Russia

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