Переводчик: Татьяна Суханова
Иргень – место святое издревле
Тайны святого озера
Перевод на английский Татьяны Сухановой
Lake Irgen Has Long Been a Sacred Place
Secrets of the Sacred Lake
Lake Irgen is the only place
in Transbaikalia which has long been known as a holy place for the people of
Transbaikal region, thus it has been a pilgrimage shrine from times immemorial.
From the second half of the 17th century rumors about the holy lake
have been travelling fast both within Transbaikal region and well beyond it.
In their brochures “In Memory
of Irgen” and “Irgen is a Holy
Place”, archimandrites Pavel and Yefrem tell the
story of Irgen, as well as popular legends which have been cherished by the
local families year in year out. Archimandrite Yefrem specifies that “only
those data and stories were subject for publication which had been submitted by
the local old residents whose religious and moral standing had never been
questioned. Historical considerations were also reckoned with”.
It is doubtful if the Irgen
Ostrog has ever been a reality. And though Lake Irgen
was not mentioned as a holy place within the church boundaries from the year of
1653 through 1726, legends have it a lot of palmers from both nearby and quite
remote places found their way to the lake never making distinction between
either religious beliefs or nationalities. There public prayers and
icon-bearing processions towards the waters of the lake were held. “Not only
Orthodox Christians were walking there, but also old-believers,
Buddhists-lamaists and shamans were not uncommon on the pathways leading to Lake Irgen.
Especially crowded the place looked after the Week of All Saints and on the
Ninth Friday”, recalls Archimandrite Yefrem.
During public prayers and
other church services one could observe quite an unusual sight: an Orthodox
believer from Siberia saying his prayers and
crossing himself next to an old-believer “vigorously making the sign of the
cross with two fingers”, and a Buddhist counting his beads while whispering
“om-mani-padmehum”, and a shamanist “reverently taking his palm-to-palm hands
to his forehead”.
Amazing totality of worship and ancience of tradition makes
one wonder at the reason of the reverence. Why did Lake Irgen
draw religious people like a magnet? What was this “holy” place famous for?
Evidently, local legends kept
up stories about unusual phenomena and miraculous signs that had taken place in
the immediate vicinity of the lake. There in the 50s of the 17th
century voivode Afanasiy Pashkov tortured to death Orthodox warriors Simeon,
Kiprian, Iosif and Vassily with their druzhina (comrades-in-arms of the
medieval Russian princes). Their burial place is said to be somewhere close to
the lake. A miracle-working icon named after a revered great woman martyr Paraskeva
Pyatnitsa has always been held sacred there. Lake Irgen
is famed as holy land aspersed with blood and sufferings of Orthodox martyrs
who suffered for their faith and piety and also as a place shrouded by the
great woman martyr Paraskeva Pyatnitsa and hallowed by some special signs of
God’s divine grace. There were no more places of the kind in Transbaikalia.
In 1861 the first Orthodox
antipagan ecclesiastical mission, also known as Daurskaya mission, was
established, it was located in Posolsky monastery near Lake Baikal.
One of its goals was to spread Christian religion among yasachnye people
(people of Siberia and the Far East who were
made to pay a tax – yasak - in the form of natural products). To christen the
indigenous people of Transbaikalia Bishop Veniamin, Head of Transbaikalian
Ecclesiastical mission of the time, established the first ten missionary
stations during the period from 1862 till 1868. Irgensky Stan (Station),
founded in 1866, was one of them. Before that time, in the first half of the 17th
century, there used to be “a monastery residence” or “Monastery” there which
part of Uspensky Monastery near Nerchinsk. I. G. Gmelin, a researcher of that
time, stayed there for a while.
In the early 17th century the Holy Synod forbade
religious pilgrimage to Lake
Irgen, but the
prohibition was of no avail. According to Archimandrite Yefrem “a great number
of people used come to Irgen either on foot or by horses.”
Irgensky Stan was made up of a small church and a house for
a missionary and a psalmist. There was also a dilapidated wooden chapel to mark
the burial place of the warriors Simeon, Kiprian, Iosif and Vassily. Hiermonach
Gerasim, later promoted to Hegumen, did a lot to transform a common wooden
house into a chapel. According to Archimandrite Yefrem: “The house was moved by
the villagers of Shaksha located near Lake
Shaksha to the shore of Lake
Irgen, for this they had to cover 17 versts (old Russian measure of distance
equal to 1.6 km).
Legend has it that Metropolite Arseny lived in this house during the reign of
Empress Anna Ioannovna (17th century) and Biron’s time. He had been exiled and
then was sent back after his case had been reconsidered. His burial place was
in a town cemetery in Verchneudinsk”. Thus the house was not chosen randomly
and then moved to Lake
Irgen thanks to the
believers’ efforts. It was done because a high-ranking churchman had lived
there sending his prayers to God.
For a long time the chapel
towered above the grave of the tortured warriors and in 1862 it was converted
into a church. In written documents it is referred to as ‘the old church”. But
in 1877 on the day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin the church was
burned down while the revered remains of the warriors were not touched by the
fire. A new small church was then built to replace the one that had been
destroyed by fire in honor of the saints whose names happened to bear the
warriors Simeon, Kiprian and Iosif. The warriors might be not only Christians
but old-believers too. It can somehow account for the fact that both Orthodox believers
and old-believers worshipped these shrines.
Later by June 12, 1881 “a big
wooden church with a stone foundation had been built in the name of The Holy
Sign and other saints” which was often referred to as the cathedral.