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Benediction of the Waters of the Neva-Monastery of St.
Alexander Nevsky-Religious Festival in honour of that Saint-Tombs—Church of St. Nicholas-Glass-house established by Potemkin-nature of the works carried on there-Foundling Hospital—description of it-state of the Children-mortality which prevails amongst themencouragement given to licentiousness by the Institution -Character, temper, and disposition of Paul, before his accession to the throne Disrespect and insult shewn by him to the memory of CATHARINE, on his becoming Emperor — Anecdotes illustrating his extraordinary conduct-Remarks on the character of the Empress
CATHARINE--Deposition and murder of Peter THE
tion of the
So much has been said in other works respecting the religious rites and usages of the Greek Church, that little need be introduced in this place on the subject. We shall only mention those objects worthy of attention, noticed by us in the course of our visits to some of the churches; and the annual ceremony of the Benediction of Benedic. the waters of the Neva. The last takes place on waters of the sixth of January (O.S.), and was formerly celebrated, with great splendour and magnificence, on the river. At present, a small Temple, of an octagon form, made of wood, painted and adorned with crosses and pictures representing parts of the history of John the Baptist, is erected on the Admiralty Canal: an inclosure is formed around it, and within is a hole cut in the ice. A platform, covered with scarlet cloth, leads from the Palace to the Temple ; along which the procession advances, consisting of the Archbishop, accompanied by Bishops and Dignitaries of the Church, the Imperial Family, and persons attached to the Court. Having arrived at the Temple, different prayers are recited': after which, the Archbishop descends
(1) The prayers used on this occasion are given by Dr. King, in his account of the Groek Church, p. 384.
a ladder placed within the octagon building, and dips the cross thrice in the water; the benediction being pronounced at the same time. Some of the water is then taken up in a vessel, and sprinkled on the surrounding spectators. The military, with their standards, the religious orders in their different dresses, the presence of the Imperial Family, and the crowds of people assembled together, form a very striking scene. The last occasion on which Peter the Great appeared in public, was at the celebration of this ceremony. He was previously indisposed : a severe cold attacked him on the day of the Benediction of the waters, increased his disorder, and in a short time brought on his death. At the celebration of a ceremony of the same kind, which was instituted in the early period of the empire, at Moscow, an image of the Holy Virgin was plunged into the river ; the water was blessed by the Patriarch; and the Tsar, and the persons of the Court who were present, were sprinkled' with it.
The Monastery of St. Alexander Nevsky is situate on the left bank of the Neva, at the dis
Monastery of St. Alerander Nevsky.
(2) “ Toute la journée on se rendait alors sur la glace : on y faisait des trous : le Patriarche bénissait l'eau pour toute l'année, y enfonçait l'image de la Sainte Vierge, et aspergeait le Tsar et les Courtisans." Histoire de Russie, par Levesque, tom. IV. Note par Depping, p. 15C.
tance of four versts from the Admiralty, in a CHAP. south-east direction: it was built by Peter the Great, in order to receive the remains of one of his ancestors which were brought from the Convent of Godoretch in 1724. When we visited this monastery, the priests were performing the service in a small chapel, and not in the great church. After the singing, a sermon was read, in rather a fast and vulgar voice : at intervals, the people bowed and crossed themselves, some touching the ground with their foreheads. We observed, in general, that the women shewed the most, and the Monks the least devotion. The latter were dressed in black stuff or camlet, with a high cap, and a black crape veil over it. After the service, we went into the great Church; were we remarked three Monks before the Shrine of St. Alexander, saying a mass for a particular person who was standing near them. The prayers were read by one, in a singing tone; and the two others joined at intervals, and made responses, taking a second or tenor at a particular part of the service. The head of the devotee was covered, for some time, with the mantle of the reader, and the book placed upon it: the person then kissed the book and the hand of the priest, paid his devotions to the shrine, gave a certain number of copeeks, and retired. We observed others, afterwards, ap
CHAP. parently negotiating for a mass at a certain - price, and sometimes unsuccessfully. A gentle
man with a cockade, accompanied by a servant in a silver-laced hat, seemed to be more fortunate, and had a mass said, and some water blessed for him. The latter part of the ceremony was so long, that we did not stay to see the conclusion; but were told, that he either carried the water home, or left it with the Monks, to be added to that which was already consecrated in the church. He did not appear to go through his part with much devotion; and instead of bowing his forehead to the earth, in general only touched it with his band. He afterwards, however, knelt down once or twice, and kissed the shrine. While they were saying the masses, many people came and paid their devotions to the shrine; always putting some money, at the same time, in a little box placed there for the purpose.
The shrine is very handsome: religious emblems of various kinds, candelabra, reliques from Palestine, and a pall adorned with gold and jewels, form part of its decorations. The silver in it is said to weigh eighty pouds and eight pounds; or 3208 pounds'.
(1) We were vot in Petersburg at the time of the year when the great Festival occurs in honour of the Saint to whom the Monastery is dedicated. The author is indebted to a friend for permission to transcribe