The hundredth anniversary of the tragic events of the February and October Revolutions was marked by a series of events at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Chicago, IL. Special commemoration was made during Ancestor’s Saturday on Cheesefare Week in early March which reminded the worshipers that one of the main reasons of the catastrophe was the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
Divine services at the cathedral in July on the feast day of the Holy Royal Martyrs were led by His Holiness Patriarch Irenej of Serbia. This took place soon after the canonization of St Mardarij, a new Serbian saint, whose uncorrupt relics draw the faithful from all over the world. He had lived in Russia until the beginning of the Revolution and openly rejected it. By Divine Providence, instead of meeting a martyric crown, he was able to found a Serbian Orthodox community in Chicago.
On the evening of October 25/November 7, the feast day of St Dimitry of Thessalonika, a pannikhida was performed for all the victims of the godless regime. Divine services on October 31/November 13 were celebrated in memory of St Ioann Kochurov, who labored in disseminating the Orthodox faith in North America and the builder of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago, who was the first clergyman to be martyred by the Bolsheviks in Tsarskoye Selo.
On Sunday, November 19, at the end of Divine Liturgy, the Senior Priest of the cathedral, Protopriest Andre Papkov, reminded the parishioners in his sermon that many members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia had marked this event as the Day of Sorrow in February and the Day of Irreconcilability in November for many years. They did not lose hope for the emancipation of their Homeland and did not acquiesce to the persecution of faithful, which should serve as an example to us when we encounter the more frequent affronts to Christians and the rejection of Christian ideals in daily life. He also noted that the February Revolution served as a violation of the oath of loyalty of the Russian people to their Tsar, the Anointed of God.
After Liturgy, Michael Gill led a choral concert in the church hall. The leitmotif of the concert was “The Space of Sorrow,” dedicated to the poetry of Feodor Sologub of 1903, a premonition of the coming catastrophes. The composer Georgy Sviridov set the words to music in the 1970’s, when these anticipated tragedies had already taken place, and it seemed that the sorrows would have no end.
The repetoire was selected exclusively from works by composers of the 20th century: Sviridov, Shvedov, Lapaev, Chesnokov and Priest-Martyr Georgy Izvekov, who was shot on Butovo Square in Moscow in 1937. The audience was presented the entire sorrowful path of Russia from the tragic events of 1917 to our day not only through music but also a slide show. The music was sung in chronological order, reflecting the spiritual history of our Motherland. At the root of the tragedy was the hubris of militant atheism, suffered by much of the intelligentsia of the early 20th century, including the poet Sologub. The Revolution, the internecine Civil War, repressions, the death of millions, exile, church divisions and troubles, new wars and the death of millions more.
But after all, after decades, the blood of the New Martyrs gave rise to repentant revival. Ten years after their glorification, the godless regime fell and the Church obtained full freedom, and Russia was reborn.
The program concluded with the singing of Eternal Memory to all the innocent victims of the atheist state and the Exaltation to the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. A special exhibition on the poets, composers and common folk who suffered during those terrible years, who served as examples of Christian and creative life.