The Cross of St. Savvatiy arrives in Moscow

2/11/2010

A unique Orthodox sacred relic – the Cross of St. Savvatiy has been brought to Moscow from the Solovetsky Monastery in Russia’s North. According to archimandrite and prior of the monastery Porfiry Shutov this is the first time in 20 years that the Cross leaves the walls of its home church.

The Cross of The Blessed Savvatiy will be installed in the shrine of the Moscow metochion of the Solovetsky monastery – the church of St. George the Victorious in Yendova. The sacred relic will be available to all believers who can worship it and pray before it everyday.

Savvatiy was one of the founders of the Solovetsky monastery. In the middle of the 15th century the monk settled down on the Solovetsly island which was deserted at that time. Savvatiy was known among monks for his ascetic and self-sacrificing life. Legend has it that it was on the Solovetsky island where Savvatty had a miraculous revelation that Solovki will become the center of the monks’ life for centuries to come. It was so until the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.

The first mention of the Cross of St. Savvatiy goes back to the late 16th century when it was handed to Moscow metropolitan Philip who then was the prior of the Solvetsky monastery. Right until the early 20th century the sacred relic had been kept in the monastery. The cross remained in the monastery even in 1920-s when it was closed and turned into one of the major prison and labor camps of Soviet Russia. Not long before the World War II the sacred relic together with other rare exhibits was brought to Moscow. The cross was kept in the reserves of Moscow’s Kolomenskoye museum but was never displayed.

In 1993, when the revival of the Solovetsky monastery began, the cross was returned to its “homeland” but its condition left much to be desired. The cross was split into several parts and it took several years to restore it. It was decided not to move the cross outside the walls of the monastery again and the restoration was carried out in the local workshop. The monks of the Solovetsky monastery took part in the restoration work.

The government and the Russian Orthodox Church have been working hard together on the further revival of the Solovetsky monastery. In recent years more and more pilgrims from all over the world have come to the Solovki Islands not only to admire the unique architectural complex but also to feel the living history of the Orthodox faith.

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