After having arrived in Moscow the night before, early this morning we headed out of Moscow and to Sergeev Posad, the site of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. But first, we had a masterclass in the art of Russian Matryoshkas. Here, we learned about how the first matryoshka was made as a toy resembling all the siblings in one family. It was named after the eldest sibling, a girl, whose name was Matryona.
After, our successful masterclass in matryoshka painting, we toured the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. St. Sergius supported Prince Dmitri Donskoi in his aim to unit the local Princes against the Tatars. This lead to success at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. St. Sergius also made toys for children that were very cute. At the Trinity Lavra, we walked through the refectory with the Church of St. Sergius. In this beautiful church, the current patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church was selected. We saw the Trinity Cathedral which was built in the 14th century and decorated with frescoes painted by the greatest icon painters of medieval Russia, Andrej Rublev and Danill Chyorny. Andrej Rublev’s masterpiece, “Trinity,” was painted for this church but now lies in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. We toured the Assumption Cathedral where we saw the coffin of St. Sergius which he made himself. The coffin is 187 centimeters long, so we came to the conclusion that St. Sergius was a tall man.
Since it was cold in the Trinity Lavra that day, we warmed up quickly with some lenten pirog which were delicious and then headed to Rostov. Here, we toured the Kremlin which was built in the 17 century by the Rostov Metropolitan of the time, Iona. We toured the Assumption Cathedral which was currently in the process of being remodeled. We then got a tour of the museum where we learned about the Rostov art of enamel. While we were there, we had to be careful not to walk into the paths of sledding children. There was much joy and celebration in the central courtyard due to Orthodox Christmas Eve.
We finally made it to Jaroslavl that night where we enjoyed our first Russian dinner. Some of us were even able to make it to church service in observation of Orthodox Christmas Eve. All in all, we had a very busy and beautiful first day in Russia.