It’s me, Jessica. Busy day today. Our day began with ringing with Father Roman during a festival service at the Danilov Monastery (check out the video of Father Roman and a few of us ringing the bells!*) The service today, August 19th, celebrated the Feast of Transfiguration. We followed the ringing with a delicious lunch – a feast, perhaps – at the monastery.
Then it was off to Moscow’s city center. We went to Tretyakov Gallery, an art museum with Russian art dating from the 11th to 20th centuries. Some of the oldest art work in the gallery are paintings of icons. These icons were actually painted on wood, but despite being several hundred years old, the images of the icons are still well preserved thanks to a base layer made of eggs and gelatin. This interesting method for preservation allowed us to see how the images of the icons evolved over time – initially straightforward, the images become more ornate and life-like over the course of a few centuries. The other parts of the museum contained seemingly endless amounts of gorgeous art as well. So much to see!
After Tretyakov Gallery, we were invited to ring at a church in the city center. This church is the Russian Orthodox Church for Chinese people in Moscow. During the Soviet era, the church was used as a warehouse, but after the Soviet Union collapsed, this church was revived and filled with many images of icons. We climbed up the tight spiral staircase up to the bell tower, where we rang the bells with both the church’s bell ringer and one of Father Roman’s students, Anton. The bell ringer also played a peal that he composed based on the psalm that was read at today’s service. The peal was not only a complicated cascade of bell sounds but also definitely an impressive sight of flying hands!
Our squad of bell ringers then went with Anton on a walk around Moscow’s city center. We visited the Temple of Reverend Hermit Maron of Syria, a historical site where the famous bell ringer Konstantin Saradzhev would play in the first half of the XXth century. Next, we went to a sculpture park known as the “Fallen Monument Park” in English (it’s simply known as “Sculpture Park” in Russian). As an exhibition for the sculptures scattered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the park is literally a graveyard for the sculptures.
Our final stop of our walk in the city center was Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was absolutely incredible. The exterior of the church is so beautiful already, but the interior of the church was even more breathtaking. Words can’t describe how ornate and vibrant the walls and ceilings are! There was a service going on at the time, and as we looked around the inside of the cathedral, we were able to listen to the choir – truly the voice of angels.
We returned to Danilov Monastery, where we played the final peal of the evening service. We wrapped up today with dinner at the monastery with all the Lowell Bell Ringers, Father Roman, and some of Father Roman’s students. Today was a lot of fun, filled with beautiful sights and amazing sounds. We’re excited for tomorrow, so stay tuned: we’re going on a trip to St. Sergius Lavra!!
*video and more photos coming soon