On Sunday, July 23, the feast day of Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves, founder of Russian monasticism, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, celebrated Divine Liturgy in New York City’s Synodal Cathedral of the Sign. His Grace was co-served by the cathedral’s senior priest Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk; cathedral cleric), Priest Sergey Trostyanskiy (diocesan cleric), and cathedral Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff and Vadim Gan.
That same day marked the feast of the Placing of the Honorable Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ in Moscow (1625). In the Cathedral of the Sign, to the right side behind the icon of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas the Wonderworker, is kept an icon with a piece of the precious robe of the Savior. This icon and the relic within were ordered and presented to the cathedral by the ever-memorable Monk Joseph (Lambertsen).
That Sunday, the holy image with the piece of the robe was placed on an analogion in the center of the church for veneration by the faithful. The hierarchal choir, under the direction of Peter Fekula, sang hymns by Boris Ledkovsky, including the Cherubic Hymn and "A Mercy of Peace." A multitude of parishioners prayed at Liturgy, as well as pilgrims from Toronto and St. Petersburg. Many communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of the service, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon. His Grace, in part, spoke about the history of how a piece of the Lord’s robe wound up in Russia. It is known that the fragment was at one time in Georgia. In 17th century, the Persian Shah Abbas I attacked Georgia, carrying away its treasures, including the piece of the Lord’s robe. In 1625, hoping to win the good graces of the Russian Tsar, he presented the fragment as a gift to Tsar Michael I and Patriarch Philaret. Once in Russia, the fragment was divided: part was placed in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Sophia) in Kiev, another (in time) was placed in St. Petersburg, while another part was kept in Moscow’s Dormition Cathedral.
Bishop Nicholas called on the faithful to treat this holy relic worthily, and noted that, "It depends on us whether we will venerate and pray before the robe of the Lord, or whether we will tear His raiment by our sins, as the soldiers did while they mocked the Savior."
His Grace congratulated the namesday celebrants bearing the names of Olga and Vladimir, including the Synodal Cathedral’s longtime warden, Vladimir K. Galitzine.
Interaction between the clergy and faithful continued at a luncheon organized in the church hall by the cathedral sisterhood.