Metropolitan Feofan: ''It’s not a colourful show!''

Head of Metropolis celebrates Easter in the Raifa Monastery

Metropolitan Feofan: ''It’s not a colourful show!'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

All the Christians of the land have recently celebrated the bright holiday of Easter, all the churches held solemn services. Traditionally, many parishioners went to the Raifa Monastery, where the Easter service was led by Metropolitan of Kazan and Tatarstan Feofan.

Pysankas on trees

At Easter night, the weather was far not Easter as Easter is the holiday of spring, but late in the evening, the wind brought snow to the city and its surroundings. At the entrance to the Raifa Monastery, in the woods, all the glades were already white. Nevertheless, dozens of cars were moving from Kazan to Raifa, overtaking each other.

In order to pass to the territory adjacent to the monastery, it was necessary to pass the metal detector — a usual procedure since recently, there was a small queue. The hour was late, but at Raifa, there were souvenir shops and cafes opened. The monastery bell tower was illuminated, above the entrance, there were two traditional Easter letters – ''XB''.

The monastery courtyard gradually filled with people. ''We come to Raifa at Easter night every year, without it Easter seems to be not Easter,'' says Natalia, an accountant at a Kazan enterprise. She came to Raifa with her husband and two children. Among the guests to celebrate Easter at the monastery there were many pilgrims from other regions, they had reservations at the convent hotel.

Huge candleholders in front of the icons were full of candles

Before the procession started, the parishioners went to the Georgian Cathedral, where a queue lined up to the miraculous image of the Mother of God. Huge candleholders in front of the icons were full of candles. Everyone who bought candles in the church shop received a gift bag with prosphora. They are supposed to eat in the morning, on an empty stomach after praying.

The time was nearing midnight, and the congregation began to flock to the Trinity Cathedral, where the procession went from and here there was the Easter service. A tree near the entrance to the temple was decorated with painted Easter eggs — pysankas. A warm symbol of the holiday.

''And the Lord will touch your hearts''

A quarter to twelve, Metropolitan Feofan went to the Trinity Cathedral. Before he entered the temple, there was a small media scrum. Metropolitan spoke about the significance of Easter, that Christ has conquered death and sin. That we live in a big house — Tatarstan, and we must keep peace in it. As always, he was saying simply, but warmly, with an almost childlike sincerity.

''A hundred years ago, it all began with that churches, shrines were destroyed. Then there was the civil war and devastation. Yes, believers went through hard times. But the lessons from this should be taken out, it is necessary to live honestly, one must love their country,'' answers the Metropolitan to the question of Realnoe Vremya. The Metropolitan during his position at Kazan cathedra has celebrated the second Easter in Raifa and, apparently, it's going to become a tradition.

A quarter to twelve, Metropolitan Feofan went to the Trinity Cathedral

Metropolitan Feofan entered the Trinity Cathedral, where boys, pupils of the monastery of Raifa, met him. Boys were dressed solemnly in black suits and white shirts. Each of them had in the hands a white rose, they give them to the Metropolitan. The cathedral was crowded, through the small corridor the Metropolitan approached the pulpit.

''Dear brothers and sisters! The time of procession is approaching. I want to tell you that it's not a colourful show where you have come. When you go in procession, let us pray to the Lord, and he will approach you unseen and will touch your hearts. Pray for family, pray for Russia,'' says the Metropolitan to the parishioners, and those who did not get to the temple and stayed outside also heard his words, in the monastery courtyard there was a live broadcast from the temple.

At the Trinity Cathedral, they dimmed light, it was silence, and hundreds of candles illuminated the temple and the stairs, the yard. In a few minutes there started the procession. Singing, the procession, headed by Metropolitan Feofan, went out of the Cathedral, and the human river was flowing through the yard, skirting the temple, and returned to the starting point.

The Metropolitan said the words the believers were waiting for: ''Christ is risen!'' The thousandth chorus answered in one breath: ''Truly, he is risen!'' At that time, the sky above the monastery was decked with a salute, which, like a dome, covered the roof of the Cathedral, reflecting in the Golden dome. The salutes merged with the celebratory shouts of Easter has come.

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By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov