Four days on the road, almost 100 miles along the roads of Vyatka and off roads in Vyatka forests. This is the longest Old Believers’ Church Procession devoted to the feast of the Nativity of Holy Hierarch Nikola the Wonderworker which is celebrated on August 11.
The Orthodox Christians of Vyatka since the old times had the tradition to perform a prayerful pilgrimage to the place of appearance of the icon of this saint at the Velikaya (‘Great’) river. 18 years ago this tradition was revived by blessed memory Adrian, then bishop of Kazan and Vyatka. In this Church Procession he finished his earthly labours, already being the Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. His heart stopped during a halt near the Gryadovitsa river on the second day of the trip. About 200 pilgrims come every year to Vyatka to follow this hard road.
This year the procession took place during especially cold time. Temperature in the night fell down to +4 grades of Celsius. The sun made the pilgrims glad only on the way back. Almost all way “there” was accompanied by either drizzly or pouring rain. But the praying pilgrims were not stopped by this. The Procession took place.
In raincoats and under umbrellas elderly and young people, as well as the children, some on their parents’ hands, walked along. Many of them admit that they just could not but go, so much this Procession means to them. Many families started during this Procession. It is for the sake of prayer in Velikoretskoye that many miracles happen, this is why, despite all life obstacles and difficulties of the road people come to the Procession again and again.
The pilgrims were inspired and supported by bishop Evfimiy of Kazan and Vyatka, who accompanied the Procession from halt to halt during the first two days of the road. His health condition does not allow him to walk even a short portion of the way.
Bishop Evfimiy led the divine service in Velikoretskoye. The pilgrims who had reached the place of the appearance of the miracle-working image started the Midnight office, prayed the Canonical hours and the Liturgy, and then went in a procession to the spring, where they finished their prayer with the blessing of water.
Among the priests who went with the Procession this year were the dean of the Vyatka church father German Chunin, priest Georgiy Dubrovin (Perm), priest Alexey Terentyev (Kilmez), priest Vasiliy Trifan (Yoshkar-Ola). During some parts of the way the Procession was joined by priest Maxim Andreev (Shuvoye village, Moscow region) and protodeacon Victor Savelyev (Moscow).