Donskoy Monastery

Approaching Donskoy from the road.

Donskoy Monastery, founded in 1591 on the Russian army line of defense against the invading Mongol Tatars. It is said that Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy, son of Ivan the Fair, had taken the Our Lady of the Don icon with him to the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. Subsequently, the Tatars left without a fight and were defeated during their retreat. Dmitry became known as “Donksoy,” meaning “of the Don River.”

The Old Cathedral features a copy of this Donskaya Virgin icon on its outside, but the original 14th-century icon now resides in the the Tetrakov Gallery in Moscow. The monastery has seven churches and 12 towers.

Even the fresco-lined tunnel leading to the monastery is stunning.

Mosaic inside the tunnel.

Fresco telling the story of St. Tikhon.

Fresco of soldiers venerating the icon of the Donskaya Virgin icon, which was taken into battle against the continuously invading Mongols at the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 to strengthen, bless, and protect Russian soldiers, who were resisting 100 years of oppression, coercive tribute, and Golden-Horde invasion.

The outside of Old Cathedral shows a copy of the Donskaya Virgin icon.

The monastery’s bell towers and onion domes are also topped with half-moon crosses, which many say is meant to symbolize Christianity’s ultimate victory over Islam.

Monastery ground abound with beauty.

Fascinating architecture as far as the eye can see.

A shadowy Gabriel in the cemetery behind the main cathedral.

Glimmers of light enable some nice shots.

My friend says this looks like the swirled foam on top of a cappuccino.


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s grave.

Another snuck photo in a very dark church since it was only illuminated by candlelight.

The body of Patriarch Tikhon, saint and New Martyr. He established the Diocese of the Aleutians and North America, encouraged the translation of the liturgy into English, resisted the Bolsheviks, was imprisoned in Donskoy after the Revolution, and was never flinching in his faith. He said, “Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!”

We got to venerate another icon of St. Nicholas at this spot. When we entered, we were met with visitors singing hymns and got anointed with oil by a Donskoy priest.

Leaving Donskoy.

Novodevichy Convent

Church of the Dormition

Novodevichy Convent, built circa 1524. Many of the 15 buildings on the fortress grounds were being renovated, so they were inaccessible, as was much of the cemetery. Buried there is Yeltsin, Khrushchev, Chekhov, and Stalin’s wife. Peter the Great banished his half-sister and first wife to this convent. Napoleon tried to blow it up before he fled the city, but a nun diffused his canons. We visited on the feast day of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker, some of whose relics are there in Church of the Dormition, as well as relics of the Optina Elders, whose prayer is our of my favorites.

Pretty chapel in the park across the street as we’re entering.

Cool shot by Aleksandr right inside the monastery.

The 3 Amigos, Trisha, and Seraphim.

Beautiful grave in the monastery center.

Houston snaps a shot of Mom and Dad.

It’s a no-no to take pics inside the churches, but I snapped this quickie of St. Nicholas’ icon with relics when Stephen and Aleksandr were behind me and the serious lady “bouncer” was looking away. No such luck with the Optina Elders relics, though.

Wide view of the Church of the Dormition.

The Virgin of Smolensk Cathedral is the main cathedral of the convent, but unfortunately, it was under renovation. Good for the monastery, bad for us. It is said that it’s modeled after the Kremlin’s Uspensky Cathedral.

One of the tower walls surrounding monastery.


The “Perfect” and Prominent King

The “Perfect” and Prominent King
By Houston
October 17, 2016

Alfred the Great is thought to be the most prominent ruler of the Anglo-Saxons. He was king of the West Saxons in Wessex, England, from 871 to 899. Amazingly, Alfred acquired the crown at the young age of 21 because all four of his brothers, who were king before him, died. He was foremost in virtue, so he was the only English ruler to be called “the Great.” Alfred was resolved in his fight against the tenacious Vikings. In fact, it is said that when he was once fleeing these raiders, a woman took him in, asking him to watch her the food she was cooking.

“Why have you burned my cakes, you imbecile?” rebuked the perturbed woman.

“I am sorry. I am King Alfred, and I was distracted because I am planning an attack on the heathen Vikings,” disclosed the contrite and cunning king.

Triumphantly, Alfred did defeat and make peace with them, even converting a Viking king to Christianity. He made education reforms by creating schools and monasteries throughout the land. Extolled by a myriad of historians as “perfect,” Alfred was without a doubt a great and prominent ruler.