28 July, 2005

Two cathedrals and a wedding

A Ukrainian-rite priest once told me to visit the Cathedral of Kazan. I've recently been inside two Orthodox churches in Kazan, and I have no idea which of them is the cathedral. One of them, which I thought was the cathderal, and which rests inside the Kremlin, has this image:

The Russian words read (from bottom to top):

  • ВЕРА: faith
  • НАДЕЖДА: hope
  • ЛЮБОВЬ: love
  • ЧИСТОТА: purity
  • СМИРЕНИЕ: humility (or reconciliation, or meekness)
  • БЛАГОСТЬ: kindness (or graciousness)
  • СЛАВА: glory

The other candidate is the "St. Nicholas' Cathedral," which you see in these two photos:

As you may have guessed from the second photo, I am no longer engaged, but married. The Orthodox wedding rite is both beautiful and fascinating. I wish I could say something more intelligent about it, but I don't understand Russian well enough to comment, let alone Old Slavonic when sung. I did catch the following words: Господи ("Lord", repeated numerous times by the deacon), мир ("peace", said quietly several times by the priest as he blessed my fiancée and myself), слава тебе ("glory to you"), and целуи ("kiss" [the crown, various icons, and finally my wife]).

I had to request permission from the Catholic Church to marry in the Orthodox Church; this was granted easily. The harder part was finding an Orthodox priest who would marry us: some Russian priests are not too fond of non-Orthodox weddings. Fr. Nicholas (Николай) was very gracious and patient.

Something I love about visiting Orthodox churches in Russia is that a group of faithful (usually women) is almost always standing before some icon and singing quietly and sweetly. It's very beautiful, and I much prefer it to the Orthodox chants I've heard on CDs or internet radio.

When the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan was brought here (with the full pomp and ceremony of the patriarch himself), my then-fiancée and I waited in line while a group of three women and one young man sang in what seemed like near-perfect polyphony during the entire wait, or nearly. As I recall, they stopped only to chat with a rotund priest who was walking down the line, and who blessed them at the end of the conversation.

We Catholics need more of that sort of spirit, and more of that sort of chant.


Anonymous said...



Brandon said...

Congrats! It looks like it was magnificent.

Alessandra said...

Congratulations, have a safe trip.

qkl said...

I wish you the best.

jack perry said...

Thank you to everyone :-) (sorry for the late reply... I'm still out of the country)