“Over a year has passed since we met last autumn in Moscow,” said our guide Irina of expresstorussia.com and intourist.com tour in a Christmas email. Within that time you’ve sent me a lot of articles about Orthodoxy and your impressions on Russia. I was very pleased to get them and I appreciate your great enlightening job” The Queens Gazette articles are being read in Russia. The article “Off the Beaten Trail: The Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals of Moscow” Kremlin” was republished in the Pravoslavie, the Orthodox online newspaper of Russia.
“This year has been very significant to me,” she explained. “I got baptized (Orthodox) in January and my attitude to life is changing now (as you were telling me!). Thank you for your inspiration and a big impulse which you gave me!”
Irina is a mother of three sons in their mid to late twenties. She had a 97+ average that entitled her to a university education. Her English is great. A humble, friendly person, she made our stay in Moscow very enjoyable. Although, we started speaking only Modern Greek among ourselves because of our countries’ problems in the 2015 United Nations Assembly session. She explained to us that she was planning to change her life. How? By becoming a Russian Orthodox Christian. Rev. Eugene Pappas explained “400 churches are being rebuilt in Russia. They are a suffering church. That is why its faith is blossoming.” I saw with complete amazement intense devotion to the Christian faith on a Russian trip.1
She revealed to me in extraordinary I-phone photos, the Holiday beauty of her Moscow. “My city also has changed,” she said. “Moscow looks very festive now with a lot of Christmas markets and decorations in the streets. In the night thousands of colorful lights are switched on the buildings and trees. Some fountains in the Centre have special lights which simulate streams of water. In some squares and parks they place ice statues. Two huge public parks are turned
into skating rinks. One of them, VDNKh is the biggest in the world – 20 sq.km. People are enjoying winter weather with a lot of snow. City services spent much effort to put snow away from the roads and roofs of the buildings.”
Moscow becomes the ground for a great winter fest. The city’s government dresses streets and avenues in light garlands and 3D installations. The Christmas fairy-tale kicks off on Red Square and takes over Nikolskaya Street, Stoleshnikov Lane, Maroseyka Street, the Arbat and many other streets of Moscow. Guests are greeted by Father Frost, Snow Maiden and Nutcracker; Christmas shops are to be found all around the downtown. Europe’s largest ice-skating rink opens up at the VDNKh Park, Gorky Park and Red Square. According to the Julian calendar, the Russian Christmas falls on 7 January and is probably the most beloved celebration for Russian Christians. Christ the Savior Cathedral crowds with over 5 thousand Muscovites, including the prime-minister and other top officials.2
We went to Russia to discover our Byzantine roots, destroyed in Anatolia and the Middle East. Irina aided us in our quest to discover “the Orthodoxy of the North”. My despondence that my Greek Orthodox faith, Greek and Byzantine cultures would be lost in the tide of globalism and Middle east persecution, vanished. Irina with her smile and kindness changed our lives by helping us discover our Orthodox roots preserved from the 10th century and alive now in an Orthodox Christian Russia. Our Byzantine civilization did not die with the “Fall of Constantinople” in 1453. As Rev. Eugene Pappas said “they are a suffering church. That is why its faith is blossoming.”
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/ – OFF THE BEATEN TRAIL: THE ASSUMPTION AND ANNUNCIATION CATHEDRALS OF MOSCOW’S KREMLIN