With these photos from the Feast Day of my Monastery in Moldavia, I can finally breathe in peace. These ten days have been an immense blessing for me, and I am certain everyone on the pilgrimage shares my gratitude to Christ, his Holy Mother and His Saints for everything we experienced in Bucovine.
I cannot imagine a better group or a most beautiful pilgrimage.
After SUCH a wonderful time together, I am now confident to announce that we shall lead a new pilgrimage to the Moldavian Monasteries between September 5-16, 2020.
‘If Sihla does not surpass earthly imagination, it is about as harsh, lonely and wild a place as one could possibly conceive’
This is a nineteen century description of the forests where St Theodora of Sihla lived as a hermit for close to six decades. She had lived there in late 1600s, mostly in a cave, at a time when no other humans except the hermits dared to venture so far in the forested mountains of Bucovine.
St Theodora had been married, but – very early into their marriage – she and her husband decided to become monastics, so they each entered a monastery. He went to a men’s monastery, and she started on her own path to holiness. At first, she entered a women’s monastery, but she was soon given a blessing to live as a hermit in the harshest Moldavian forests.
Today, there is a small monastery where she lived, a wooden church in the forest, which had been used by the hermits in the area, and the cave where she spent most of the life in the wilderness.
It was towards the end of the day when we got to Sihla, the monks had started Vespers in church, but the entire group slowly made its way into the forest and prayer in St Theodora’s Cave and the old wooden church of the hermits. We were dead tired, but strangely happy and light at heart.
By the prayers of St Theodora of Sihla and of all the holy hermits who lived and continue to live in these forests (known and unknown to us, but known to God in His Kingdom), may we all be blessed beyond our wildest hopes.
And so, our first annual Pilgrimage to Moldavia has begun. Please keep us in your prayers – myself and the sixteen wonderful (potentially mad) pilgrims who have flown over one (close to two, in some cases) continents and on ocean to join me.
For seven night, we shall stay at the Skete of my Monastery, fifteen kilometres into the forest from the big Monastery of St Nicholas in Rasca. This is the monastery where I was received as a novice, I was tonsured a monk and ordained as a priest – this is the home of my monastic childhood.
Apart from the seven nights here, we shall also spend three nights in Putna, at the very North of Moldavia. This will allow us to visit and pray in the most ancient and beautiful Monasteries of Moldavia, including the world-heritage Painted Monasteries of Bucovine.
By the grace of God, my Abbot has given me the blessing to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in English in the week we are at the forest Skete, so we may all participate in the service (we can even join their choir) and develop a personal relationship with the Skete. This is the greatest gift they could have offered.
As possible, I shall try to keep you updated with how the pilgrimage is progressing. As is the case with our Monastery on Mull, there is no internet at the Skete either, so do forgive me if I fail to post as frequently as I would like to. Being silent online does not mean we are silent in our prayer.
May we ALL be blessed