Photo by Vova Pomortzeff Новая страница 1
 

Pilgrimage to the Great River

Photographs by Vova Pomortzeff

One of the biggest and hardest mass pilgrimages in Russia holds annually in Vyatka Region, some 900 km to the east from Moscow. In five days, thousands and thousands orthodox pilgrims cover 150 kilometres on foot from the regional administrative centre of Kirov, formerly known as Vyatka, to the sacred place on the Velikaya or Great River, where the miracle-working icon of Saint Nicholas was found six hundreds years ago, and than back. The history of the Velikoretsky Pilgrimage has counted more than six centuries. During the Communist era the pilgrimages were banned, however even in those times, despite of the resistance of the Soviet authorities, there were brave people who tried to reach the sacred place on the Velikaya River through forest paths with baskets, pretended to be looking for mushrooms. Nowadays, the tradition of mass pilgrimages has been revived. More than 20.000 pilgrims attend the famous pilgrimage annually.

1. Mass pilgrimage to the Velikaya River in Vyatka Region, Russia. The cross procession starts at 3 a.m. every day.

 

2. A young boy prays in front of the miracle-working icon of Saint Nicholas from the Velikaya River.

 

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4. The short time for the rest.

 

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8. The procession doesn't stop even in the heavy rain.

 

9. The only protection against the rain.

 

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11. Some pilgrims cover the route through the incredible mud with bare feet.

 

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16. The miracle-working icon of Saint Nicholas from the Velikaya River is carried by priests or pilgrims all the time.

 

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18. An elderly woman prays in front of the miracle-working icon of Saint Nicholas from the Velikaya River.

 

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20. An elderly man prays kneeling in front of the candles covered the memorial place on the bank of the Velikaya River, where pilgrims were gathered in secret during the Communist era, when the Velikoretsky Pilgrimage was banned by the Soviet authorities.

 

21. Mass bathing in the Velikaya River on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank in 1383.

 

22. Mass bathing in the Velikaya River on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank.

 

23. Mass bathing in the Velikaya River on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank.

 

24. People lit candles on the memorial place on the bank of the Velikaya River, where pilgrims were gathered in secret during the Communist era, when the Velikoretsky Pilgrimage was banned by the Soviet authorities.

 

25. Pilgrims attend mass bathing in the Velikaya River on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank.

 

26. Elderly women lean against pine trees, on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank. People believe they are able to collect good energy from the trees in that way. This strange rite has obviously pagan roots and the orthodox priests blame for the pilgrims who do this, especially during the orthodox pilgrimage.

 

27. Local people in the village of Velikoretskoye.

 

28. An elderly pilgrim tries to cure blisters on her legs by bathing them in the water of the Velikaya River, on the place where the icon of Saint Nicholas was found on the riverbank. People believe the water has miraculous healing properties at this place.

 

29. A medical stuff cures blisters on the legs of a pilgrim used a Russian zelyonka, an alcoholic solution of Brilliant Green.

 

30. Mass pilgrimage returns to Vyatka covered altogether 150 kilometres on foot.

 

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33. Mass pilgrimage returns to Vyatka covered altogether 150 kilometres on foot.

 

The photographs of this feature were shot in June 2010 in Vyatka Region, now Kirov Oblast, Northwest European Russia.

Copyright 2010 Vova Pomortzeff

 
   
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