5020Some Help Where it's Needed
- Jul 7, 2001While I was making a pilgrimage to Russia, my hostess insisted that I go to
the small city of Murom on my way from Moscow to Diveevo. I knew nothing of
Murom or its saints, and many (!) Orthodox were happy to enlighten me about
them, often from personal experience of their intercession.
I was particularly instructed to venerate the shrine of Sts. Peter &
Fevronia. How could I be an Orthodox priest and not know them, many asked.
And so they taught me. Now I can say that Sts. Peter and Fevronia are two
of the most remarkable people that I "met" while there.
Peter came from the noble family that ruled the city-state of Murom. He
married Fevronia, a native of Ryazan and a woman noted for her wisdom. The
people of Murom were initially resistant to the marriage, perhaps because
Fevronia was not a local girl and in addition, came from an area known (at
least to the Murom- ites) as a center of witchcraft and dvoeverie/syncretism.
The young couple had to live on an island in the middle of the Oka river
for a while, but ultimately were accepted by the people. It seems that
Fevronia's charity, discretion, and deep piety played a big part in the
city's acceptance of her. He was as reknowned for his fairness as a prince
as his wife was known for her kindness to the poor. They had a famously
happy, satisfying, and full marriage.
After a full civil and family life, and having "seen their children's
children," the royal couple retired to monasteries by mutual consent. He
took the name "David", she - "Ephrosynia"; they are commemorated as saints
under their secular names, however. The monasteries, next to each other,
exist to this day (both were closed at least briefly under the Soviet
persecution). The relics of Sts. Peter and Fevronia are now preserved
together, enshrined in the women's monastery. The men's monastery enshrines
the relics of three other sainted princes of Murom.
It is said that when St. Peter lay dying in his monastery, he asked to see
Fevronia. She learned of this while working at some kind of women's
handiwork, and replied that he would have to wait until she had finished her
obedience! At its conclusion, she went to bid her much-loved spouse
farewell, and he died peacefully.
The two are much invoked in Russia for happy married life, and especially for
making a wise decision in choosing a marriage partner.
Their feast day is June 25/July 8 - the same day as the Martyr Fevronia.
Here is my clumsy translation of their troparion:
As a most honored scion of a pious root wast thou, /and didst live well in
piety, O blessed Peter; /thus with thine helpmeet, the wise Fevronia,
pleasing God in the world, / you both were vouchsafed the life of monastic
saints. / with them, pray to the Lord that your fatherland may be preserved
from harm / for we honor you ceaselessly.
Through their prayers may God bless the marriages (and the marriage choices)
of all the readers of this list.
priest Michael Carney
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