On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, the young pilgrims rose early in the morning and left Lyon, France, heading for Switzerland, accompanied by the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. Their first stop was Geneva. A host of clergymen bearing bread and salt, headed by His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe met the miracle-working Icon.
After a moleben to the Mother of God in Elevation of the Cross Cathedral, the Concord group headed for the Alps. The long, fatiguing road through the magnificent Swiss roads gave a hint of the difficulties once faced by the legendary Generalissimus Alexander Suvorov. By evening, they reached the famous Devil’s Bridge, where the ingenious Russian general held yet another victory over the French under impossible circumstances. A commemorative litany was performed at the site of a splendid memorial to the fallen Russian soldiers. The song “Borodino” was also sung with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Interestingly, when the first “Concord” event took place in 2008, the Russian delegation did not know this hymn to the Battle of Borodino. The youth from abroad sang it a few times, and by this year it has become a leitmotif of the entire Concord group. They sang it upon arrival in Paris, with particular zeal in various parts of France and any time the young people took to song.
The young travelers then arrived at their hotel in St-Gotard Valley, the very same hotel in which Suvorov stayed after his victory at Devil’s Bridge. By way of clarification, the hotel has been remodeled and expanded several times since 1799. Yet the family which has owned the hotel the entire time is very proud that the Russian Generalissimus, victor over the French, stayed there, and are eager to show his room to tourists.
On Wednesday, the Concord delegation flew from Zurich to Moscow, venerating the Kursk-Root Icon for the last time, after which it was taken back home to New York.
On Thursday, July 29, the pilgrims went to Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra, where they venerated the relics of St Sergius of Radonezh and the other relics of the “Russian Thebaid.” During the Time of Troubles, the ancient monastery, with its massive walls, withstood a siege by the Poles, who had just taken Moscow. This made a great impression on the youth from abroad. At the time, from within these walls, patriotism flowed forth throughout the country, where it had been waning, but also spiritual inspiration for the unity of the nation, which spread far and wide on the enormous territory of Russia.
Upon their return to Moscow, the youth visited Mosfilm, where they toured several studios of this renowned cinematographic center, and met with director Vladimir Ivanovich Khotinenko, whose recent work includes the movie Pop [“Priest”].
On Friday, July 30, the young people traveled to Red Square. They were given some free time, so that each could experience the sites they were most interested in. An especially profound impression was made upon the delegates from abroad: they had studied the history of Russia, of the Russian Church and culture only from books. They had seen photographs and pictures of these sites, holy to every Russian person, but to walk the streets, to touch the stones, view the churches, walls and symbols, excited the souls of the young pilgrims. The nine-hundred-year history of these places cannot but leave a mark on the Russian soul.